So I’ve been neglecting my blog – not on purpose, but neglecting nonetheless. Although I haven’t been posting, I’ve somewhat been following news/blogs about the U.S. presidential elections, specifically, the Democratic party contest for the presidential nominee between Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton.
One of the biggest reasons why this is such a fascinating contest is because it’s between two historically marginalized groups of people in America. Specifically, it’s a struggle between an African-American man, and a white woman, neither of which group has ever held the presidential position. Both individuals are privileged (being male, and being white), although at some point, Senator Clinton has used her status as a white woman/victim to leverage some votes for her campaign.
This isn’t to say that Obama hasn’t done it. I just haven’t seen him use the fact that he is Black to his advantage. Not publicly anyway, but I may be blind to it and you’re more than welcome to point it out. In fact, Obama has tried his darnest to stay away from the issue of race (until Rev Wright), to portray himself as a highly qualified individual for the presidency, as opposed to receiving handouts often perceived to be “provided” to minorities. He tried anyway, and no matter how much he attempted to portray himself as a qualified person, he was still seen as just another minority benefiting from affirmative action (as if that in itself is a bad thing).
The fight between these two has been escalating and it’s really intense and ugly. Should senator Clinton concede to senator Obama since he is pretty much ahead of her in virtually EVERYTHING? Is that fair especially since there are still more states waiting to vote, even though there is little chance of her bypassing him anyway? Should Senator Obama just drop out since Clinton is more electable in the general election and more experienced and more likely to handle the GOP machine? And why won’t Bill Clinton just shut up?
No matter which way you look at it, there is no way of escaping the racism and the sexism that exist within this presidential contest. And while I’m not arguing that the racism against Obama is more damaging, which of the two is worse, and more damaging, I do have to examine some of the subtle and blatant racism arising from the Clinton campaign.
First, the most obvious being the “race card” that was supposedly pulled on Bill Clinton by Obama. Come on…seriously? Bill Clinton became the victim after he tried to dismiss Obama’s victory in South Carolina as *just* another Jesse Jackson win. There is nothing inherently wrong with what B Clinton said, but it did and does have implications that Obama’s win was nothing of importance or significance. We all know this, and have seen it analyzed many times. But what about the new claim that Obama is the one who pulled the race card?
Was the Obama campaign really the ones who pulled the race card and racialized the contest? Well by being too “ethnic”, Obama pulled the race card by default. If he wasn’t Black, would Bill Clinton have been forced to “call a [black] spade a [black] spade?”
Then most importantly for this blog post anyway, is the constant insistance from the H Clinton campaing that Hillary is more experienced and electable. And this is where the subtlety and and beauty of racism is lost to many. How you may ask, after all, isn’t she more qualified and more electable?
Besides the fact that I don’t think she’s more qualified (which I’m not arguing in this post), I have a huge problem with that particular language. I’m sure we’ve all (or some of us) have heard Black people complain that there aren’t enough movies made about the Black experience, to which hollywood execs respond by saying that those movies don’t sell therefore they aren’t being made (or that they are usually about one particular subject therefore not diverse enough for general audiences – a very false notion about the diversity of Black people and experiences in reality that they’re blind to).
If you haven’t heard of this, well, take my word for it, it does happen. What about in general sales and advertisement, isn’t the whole reason why less “ethnic” models are used because they don’t sell? They don’t appeal to a wider general audience but to an “ethnic” audience instead? Same reason why stories about Black people aren’t published in books and magazines? They are all just sooo “ethnic.”
This is what the Clinton campaign is essentially saying when they continue to assert that she’s more electable. Basically they’re saying she’s more white. Which means, more likely to be accepted, supported, and not feared. It’s subtle but it works well and to their advantage.
It’s sick and it needs to stop. So Obama is just a little bit too Black, and he might just have to pay for it by losing the nomination (to someone who is trailing behind him). Many people think he is generally a good guy, and his policies sound kind of okay, but there is just something about him that makes them feel uncomfortable voting for him.
But when looking at Hillary even as they might not agree with her policies, she just seems so much more normal. Appealing. Electable. Maybe it’s not because she’s white, but actually because of her accomplishments, right? That maybe but racism has a large part to play in it. Because Hillary will appeal to general audiences everywhere, she’s universal you know, and Barack, well he’s just appealing to the Black population. And the GOP will tear him to pieces, but pointing out that he is – that which must not be nam – BLACK!
And there it is people. The subtlety. It’s racist.