Saying Goodbye to Feminism in 2016

Saying Goodbye to Feminism in 2016

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I have written numerous times both here and on twitter about the issues that people of color face and how those issues are being heard, represented, co-opted, ignored and more throughout this election cycle.

Time and time again one theme has consistently brought me into a rage. I called myself a feminist when I said I would vote for the old white guy. I called myself an intersectional-feminist when I denounced Hillary Clinton’s use of the word super-predator, her Gandhi joke, her insults toward undocumented laborers during her time as senator of NY. Throughout these months though I have learned that Latino voters like myself and many of those closest to me are set to vote for Hillary.  I have learned that African Americans are also a huge voting bloc of Hillary. People will vote how they choose and that is part of what makes America amazing.

What bothers me though is not that American’s willingly are voting for a candidate that wants us to go to war with Iran, or one that plans on regulating Wall Street with people that have made their fortunes on that mumbo-jumbo. What bothers me is how her campaign has co-opted intersectionality to the point that much like the Republican critique, liberals are engaging solely in “Identity Politics.” Look I take no offense at the SJW title, in fact I have called myself that in the past. I will always fight for mental-health care and comprehensive sex-ed funding. Free universal education, abortion-rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, survivor rights, affordable housing, and all the things that I am passionate about.

But let me clear, I will not hand over my battle to white feminists who say that millenial females voting for Bernie are doing it for the boys, going to hell, or “have had it too easy.” You can’t have it both ways. You cannot co-opt our struggle and then deny its existence when we don’t fall in line. You don’t get to use rape language in referring to politicians keeping their word about a debate. You don’t get to erase the millions of black,brown, asian, etc voters that have found a messenger in Bernie Sanders. This agenda is evident when David Brock says Black Lives don’t matter to Bernie Sanders because of his campaign ad. He ignored the millenial brown woman cheering and engaging in politics. He ignored the black woman smiling and hugging Bernie Sanders. He ignored members of the crowd who could be black, brown, Arab, Indian etc because it did not fit his narrative of the Bernie Sanders campaign. He ignored the beautiful image of the Latino father and daughter supporting their choice for president together. This image resonates with me because too often Latino and Black men are portrayed as deadbeats so I appreciate the campaign taking the time to show this father daughter duo. Could the campaign do better? Absolutely and they have but its been a genuine growth rather than simple pandering.

#Notmyabuela

We do not need a white savior of any gender. Bernie Sanders is not the movement but he is the loudest voice right now. He doesn’t quit when the media tells him to stop talking about economics. He doesn’t shut up when the DNC wants him to quit. He keeps talking even when the media all but ignores him. His stance on private prisons is why Hillary Clinton stopped accepting direct donations from them. He has visited the border and spoken to veterans who have been deported. We the people publicly financing his campaign do not want him to quit.

I do not see in Hillary Clinton a true ally in the struggle for clean water, affordable housing, $15 min wage, or an end to fracking. Hillary Clinton has not won me over because her campaign has whitewashed the Sanders campaign in a way that benefits themselves. Every disagreement engenders a feminist critique that is as self-serving as it is obvious. Hillary Clinton may be a woman but let’s not forget that this is the woman who said she was “dead-broke” after leaving the white-house. This is the same candidate who employs David Brock as the head of her super-pac. This candidate has no issues benefiting from her wealth, her connections, and her control of the media.

Her campaign weakens feminism when they attribute all critique to sexism. When we talk about her inconsistency on the issues we are discussing facts. When we point out her support for fracking around the world we are not attacking her gender we are questioning whether or not as president she will make it a point to ensure the needs of the people over corporations. She did not do this as Secretary of State in Honduras, Colombia, Haiti, or Libya. Time and time again Hillary Clinton has placed the needs of the powerful over the needs of the average America.

She does not support free public colleges at a time when students are saddling themselves with large amounts of debt trying to just get out of the neighborhoods they were born into. To say that she does not support it because rich people will take advantage is disingenuous at best and bullshit at worst. The fact of the matter is that the Clintons and Trumps of the world do not attend Rutgers University. I don’t say that because Rutgers is not a great institution after all it is my alma mater but because the fact of the matter is that the elite don’t choose their children’s school based on finances and that argument quickly falls apart.

Recently an article was published that attempted to smear Bernie Sanders as a rapist. If that sounds appalling to you then we are definitely on the same page. The fact of the matter is that 1 in 4 college age women are likely to be victims of sexual assault. This stat is based on reported assaults and I can tell you from my work experience that the vast majority of assaults are not reported. Poor women, women of color, native women, trans women, and sex workers are much more likely to be abused. To treat Hillary Clinton as a victim minimizes their struggles and takes away from the fight to teach consent, to establish a survivor’s bill of rights, and minimizes the work that so many therapists, social workers, etc do with survivors of trauma. It also makes any critique on her an assault which serves to deflect away from the issues. You delegitimize feminism when you posit men as intrinsically dangerous and victimizers.

I have been told that I am a minority among minorities for my support of Bernie Sanders. Other prominent women of color Bernie supporters have been told that they owe their vote to Hillary Clinton and feminists without acknowledging that many in the suffrage movement were virulently racist. In fact it was Elizabeth Cady Stanton who fought to keep Black men from the right to vote.

“Asked straight out whether she were ‘willing to have the colored man enfranchised before the woman,’ she answered ‘no; I would not trust him with all my rights; degraded, oppressed himself, he would be more despotic with the governing power than even our Saxon rulers are.’”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Hill and Wang, 2009)

We will not hand over our movements to anyone. Women of color have fought for thousands of years around the world for their right to have a voice and we will not stay silent in the face of such appropriation of our movements, our voices, our justice. To see Hillary Clinton suddenly decide to support the #fightfor15 was a clear example to me of how her campaign will take every opportunity to spin something in her favor. Even every critique of President Obama has turned into hatred and rejection of his presidency rather than a conversation among people who support the man but do not agree with certain of his policies. I have mentioned before how disappointing it is to know that President Obama has been dubbed our “Deporter in Chief.” This is a legitimate critique and one that is worthy of discussion to see what can be done and how to move forward. Rather than acknowledge her role in the Mexican drug war, Honduran coup, and U.S. Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and how that has affected migration to America she has instead attempted to appeal to the right by stating that the immigrants mainly children should simply be sent back.

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In trying to treat Hillary Clinton as a true candidate and opponent that she is Bernie has been attacked as sexist time and time again. While I can agree that Bernie lacks a certain political finesse that is one of his appeals to voters. We feel so disconnected from politics not just because of the vast sums passing hands but because there exists a sense of deceit among politicians that voters have simply had to accept.With Bernie Sanders it is different. He is responsive to different voices without flip flopping. He takes into consideration dissent rather than decry it as sexist or make himself a victim.

The reality is that his campaign has been an uphill battle from the beginning. In this instance the woman in the fight was much better prepared to go to work. She had the support of the party and super delegates long before any votes were cast. The problem is not that she benefits from this preferential treatment but that she refuses to acknowledge that this is being done on her behalf. How does she expect us to believe that she will tackle institutional racism when members of her own party are standing with Payday Lenders over poor and working class American people?

The problem for me is that while her campaign is very effective at making her the victim they are also blatantly dishonest and this has turned me off of not just Hillary Clinton but feminism. The reality for me is that feminism is too often synonymous with white-feminism as evidenced by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Latinxs, Africans Americans, Native Americas, Asian Americans, etc deserve a space to tell our stories, to contribute to policy discussions, and to control our narrative. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has shown me that traditional feminism is not the place to accomplish that. Until and only if that changes I will continue to support mujerism, and womanism and the remarkable people looking to create change in our nation of inequalities. Throwing around Bernie Sander’s #white-privilege without looking at the privilege that come with being a first-lady, senator, secretary of state, multi-millionaire, mother-in-law to a hedge fund manager, attorney, and presumptive (WHITE) nominee of the Democratic party is lazy thinking and I am officially over all of it.

I am a Latina and I am not her firewall

I am a Latina and I am not her firewall

For months the pundits have decisively stated that Latino’s and African Americans are in the bag for Hillary Clinton. This statement is generally said as a way to detract from the success of the Sander’s campaign. Recently the campaign has gone so far as to call black and brown voters her Firewall.

As a Latina Bernie supporter I reject this notion. It bothers me, not only because people of color are not a monolith group that can be sold wholesale but because I truly believe that Hillary Clinton is NOT the best candidate for people of color. Politicians in general need to stop objectifying people of color. We are not hypersexual jezebels, mammies, thugs, illegals,or mami’s. We are human beings and “dabbing” will not cut it. We are not single issue voters and our cultures are diverse enough to encompass us all.

I will admit that name recognition has been an issue for Bernie Sanders, I did not know about him myself until this primary began. BUT, this assumption that Latinos have some sort of rosy opinion of the Clinton’s neglects the fact that Hilary Clinton has repeatedly made statements that make me doubt how much she truly cares about Latino’s.

She called for the deportation of the minor’s fleeing Central America.

“They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who the responsible adults [are] in their family. We have to send a clear message that just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean your child gets to stay. We don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/hillary-clinton-deportation-border-immigrants-217210#ixzz3z8Ck2oML

This call for order in immigration and for sending a message came after Hillary Clinton delayed in calling the military coup of Honduras exactly that, a coup. It comes after further destabilization in the region after the president of Honduras Manuel Zelaya raised the minimum wage for the country’s workers. We could have demanded his reinstatement and allowed the country to democratically elect a new government at its given time. Instead the US under Secretary Clinton’s leadership threatened to withold aid if an election was not immediate. So while Secretary of State Clinton may not have had a role in the coup itself, our countries interests were not in looking at what was best democratically but what was best for the minority who controls the wealth in the country.

Sound familiar?

Another failure is that Hillary Clinton’s campaign fails to address the intersectional issues that are of true importance to Latinos.

“I find it offensive when people talk to Latinos as though they’re one-trick ponies, like [immigration] is all they care about, I think you’re going to see significant percentages of people of color voting for Bernie on the economic message, the immigration message, and the climate change message.” Raul Grijalva

Therefore while immigration is important, and Bernie Sanders has been an advocate in that arena for a long time, he also has a stronger platform to handle racial injustice, income inequality, and healthcare. In fact, his position on single payer is especially important as I have seen many people of color struggle to afford the high premiums that are still dictated by insurers under the Affordable Care Act.

Data show that blacks and latino’s are more likely to be arrested, charged, and convicted for low level drug offenses. They are therefore less likely to get their education, and support families with employment. This is going on right alongside studies that show people of color use drugs at the same rates as white people. In fact for a black person there is a 1 in 3 chance of being locked up, for Latino’s it is 1 in 6 and for whites it is 1 in 17.

One  of the options thrown out there by different advocacy groups has been to decriminalize marijuana. This is a policy that Bernie Sanders supports but that Hillary Clinton does not. They also differ on their views of the death penalty. Secretary Clinton reiterated her position supporting the death penalty in the the New Hampshire debate.

“I do, for very limited, particularly heinous crimes, believe it is an appropriate punishment, but I do deeply disagree with the way that too many states are implementing it.”

“What I hope the Supreme Court will do is make it absolutely clear that any state that continues capital punishment either must meet the highest standards of evidentiary proof of effective assistance of counsel or they cannot continue it.”

This response ignored the fact that people of color are more likely to be executed by death penalty.

Amnesty International has stated that:

  • Even though blacks and whites are murder victims in nearly equal numbers of crimes, 80% of people executed since the death penalty was reinstated have been executed for murders involving white victims.

  • More than 20% of black defendants who have been executed were convicted by all-white juries.

This statement comes at a time when there is a clear divide on what is a humane execution, and on the heels of some governors calling for a firing squad or even a guillotine to be used.

A study conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln  found that white jurors were more likely to recommend a death sentence for Latino defendants than for white defendants in CaliforniaUNL study examines racial bias in death-penalty decisions

The point being made here is one that Bernie Sanders has made throughout his campaign. The system is rigged against the poor and working class, but especially people of color. This system has failed us not just in equal access to justice,but in access to employment, education, housing, and more. Therefore I disagree strongly with the Secretary that there should be any support for the death penalty as long as some Americans are less likely to receive good counsel, and more likely to be executed just for the color of their skin.

These two positions are ones in which the differences are clear between the candidates. Bernie Sanders supports ending the death penalty and decriminalizing marijuana. These two issues are pertinent for people of color and Secretary Clinton’s positions are ones that I cannot support.

The fact of the matter is that I do not believe Hillary Clinton is good for Latinos because I do not believe she is good for America. We are Americans, we work, we pay taxes, we are a community of different levels of assimilation and shades, languages etc but we want a country where we have a fair shot. The Clinton’s have used people of color as a negotiating tool with the GOP time and time again. So when people say she will get things done that worries me,

On whose back will she “get things done”?

This country was built on the backs of minorities yet we are continually denied the “American dream.” We are told our communities are unworthy despite paying property taxes. We are segregated throughout the country, so when I hear someone saying they can work across the aisle, that sounds good but how? Will we go back to simply being a special interest if she were to get elected?

What reform will she compromise on in order to get her way? She already refuses to support single-payer healthcare, a reform that would provide healthcare access to millions of uninsured Americans.

She also has her own past to contend with. When advocating for the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act Hillary Clinton chose to use racially coded language.

“We need to take these people on. They are often connected to drug cartels. They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about how they got that way but first we have to bring them to heel….”

These are not the words of someone that values the Black and Latino community. You do not bring youth to heel, you bring animals to heel.I teach young black and latino youth in Newark  about sexuality with a program geared towards lowering the risk of STD’s and teen pregnancy. These classes have some rowdy, fun groups of kids. They are not super-predators. They don’t even know about their own body parts as I think they should.  They just live hard lives in one of the most crime plagued cities in the country. And they take in these messages and internalize this racism, and it ekes out in certain vulnerable moments and this is why I cannot support a candidate that has perpetuated this myth. It is not just the mass incarceration, it is the coding that too many youth of color fall prey to. It is the message that they and their communities are doomed to fail and that they are fundamentally broken. As a therapist i routinely see children with behavior issues. A pattern I have noticed though is that when it is black youth the family are so terrified of jail. They don’t have the luxury to simply be rebellious youth. The spectre of criminality and its repurcussions is real in a very distinct way in the black community. I reject the notion that black and brown people are fundamentally bad and broken, and I embrace instead the vibrancy, the innocence, the willingness to learn and grow and be good, intelligent men and women.

Hillary Clinton has also supported multiple trade policies that have hurt America and Latin America. NAFTA, CTPA, Australian free trade agreement, Singapore free trade agreement, Chile free trade agreement and now TPP take jobs from Americans, and ship them overseas oftentimes to countries that lack standards and unions to protect the workers from abuse. Many companies from Walmart to Old Navy have in recent years been accused of slave labor in these countries. Small farmers from Mexico down have lost everything as international conglomerates have taken over.

In the case of the Colombia free trade agreement, the secretary knew about the human rights violations and chose to support the very deal she had initially opposed. (after her foundation received millions)

“As I have said for months, I oppose the deal. I have spoken out against the deal, I will vote against the deal, and I will do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.” (April 8, 2008: Before the Communications Workers of America.

 

“First, let me underscore President Obama’s and my commitment to the Free Trade Agreement. We are going to continue to work to obtain the votes in the Congress to be able to pass it. We think it’s strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States. And I return very invigorated … to begin a very intensive effort to try to obtain the votes to get the Free Trade Agreement finally ratified.” (June 11, 2010

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Hillary Clinton has supported these trade agreements and until pressed by Senator Sanders she reversed course on TPP, after endorsing it 45 times. These job losses are rationalized under the notion of free trade but Bernie Sanders has spoken out about who the “free trade” really benefits from the beginning. Sanders against NAFTA

The notion that there exists a nostalgia for a Clinton presidency when the economy was good and jobs were plentiful is a idealistic one. It is one that ignores the Clintons’ role in mass incarceration and terrible free trade agreements that led to a rise in unemployment for black’s and latino’s.

Much of our struggle is intertwined. We have suffered injustices in the neighborhoods willfully forgotten by many politicians. Civil rights activists and BLM activists have marched with Latino’s against deportations that split families apart and send many to their death. As people of color our experiences are varied and unique but our oppression is similar. The system and institutionalized racism is strong and as we grow we simply have a greater target on our backs. We are scapegoated when it comes to education and affirmative action, welfare, and immigration.

As a Latina I support Bernie Sanders. I believe that not only is he more capable of getting things done as president, but that he will actually follow through with his plans. I also believe that to Senator Sanders, we are not just a focus group whom he needs to win. To him we are Americans, that deserve a fair shot in this country.

So feel free to join me in saying #IamNotHerFirewall.If you are a Bernie supporter, know that despite what the media says, we are not “fans” we are supporters. We have agency and with that agency we have made a choice to support a presidential candidate. I reject efforts to limit our movement by calling us “bernie-bro’s” or “fans”.

Welcome to the revolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/08/exclusive_hillary_clinton_sold_out_honduras_lanny_davis_corporate_cash_and_the_real_story_about_the_death_of_a_latin_america_democracy/

The DNC Quagmire

The DNC Quagmire

For those not following the issues within the Democratic National Committee, it appears that there is a shift, or according to some an internal war going on.

You could say there have been issues for years as different factions have promoted their own issues and agendas. This has boiled over now with Independent senator Bernie Sanders running as a Democratic nominee for President. Why is this a problem? Well the Democratic party already had their nominee crowned and her name is Hillary Clinton. So what we have now are Bernie supporters, like myself being presented with a false dichotomy. Progressives versus Centrists, “True” Democrats versus the “New Democrats”, independents, first-time voters, those that are not of the elite and actually make up the working-class America the Dems are supposed to represent being pitted against lifelong Democrats. We are told that unless we want to give up our rights we must vote for Hillary even though she clearly is a centrist candidate that has advocated economic,and foreign policies that have hurt Americans.

The reality is that in America currently there is no true party of the people. Both parties have gambled with our rights, our economy, our environment, and our future. The belief seems to be that the social issues which I concede are highly important are the only issues. Unfortunately that isn’t true. The Democrats and Republicans have sold out to Wall St and big corporations and its happened nationwide. Social issues like abortion rights, access to birth control, the legalization of same-sex marriage are all very important but so are jobs, a lack of generational mobility, student debt, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, healthcare as a right, environmental justice, and so much more. In addition, despite the Supreme Court ruling there are no national anti-discrimination laws. While marriage has been legalized a lack of momentum in state legislatures means that the LGBTQ community is still at risk of legal discrimination.

Also while Obamacare has expanded Medicaid the working poor and small business owners are disproportionately affected. Either because employers are deciding to pay less or because its simply unaffordable to the point that the individual can qualify for an exemption as has been the experience for people in my immediate family. This is again due to a failure on the part of the DNC to elect up and down enough congresspeople to fight the GOP’s attack on healthcare as a right and their failure to advocate for single payer healthcare system. Multiple Democrats even distanced themselves from Obamacare rather than challenge the establishment and convince voters of the importance of Obamacare. They have allowed the GOP to establish a narrative that paints the Democratic party as weak and unrealistic. Voters get blamed when turnout is low as though that is the only reason why nothing gets done but thats talking points and it doesn’t accurately reflect the failure of the DNC to speak to and motivate voters.

The current job market, rising property taxes, unsuccessful wars, a lack of transparency in politics, gun violence, terrorism, educational costs, a lack of immigration reform, the fact that African-Americans continue to die at the hands of police all contribute to the frustration and disillusionment we feel towards establishment politics.
So here’s the thing, the DNC had options, they could have allowed a fair primary to go forward and gain new Democrats that support Bernie Sanders and abhor the rhetoric of the right or they could have done as they have, impeding a fair election and mocking Bernie’s supporters.
Marketing Hillary as the most electable candidate in retrospect seems ridiculous. Even if you look beyond Benghazi, the email scandal, the issues with the Clinton foundation, the selling of weapons to countries with human rights violations, there are still even more things the GOP can and will use against her in a primary. Bernie consistently is more likely to beat anyone on the right when compared to Hillary.

Maybe its time for America to end the two-party system that was never intended by the founding fathers. Until then though the DNC will need to reckon with its image, its leadership, its record, and prove to the American people that it will work for our votes. Until then I will continue to support the only candidate with strong values that can’t be bought. I endorse the candidate with a platform that addresses all of the issues that are important to America.

For more information visit: https://berniesanders.com/issues/