Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton unless she's the only option.

This has been a very long primary season.
And I am weary.

I am an Obama supporter.

I am an Obama supporter who when this all began was grateful for Ms. Clinton’s competition. Indeed, I thought that it would be useful for The Party (if not America) to see two strong candidates for The Nomination duke it out over policies and their hopes for America.
I like a good fight.
I cry over Rocky movies.

This has not happened.
Both of the candidates have had to contend with an unfavorable media and, unable to fight the media, the candidates turned their sights on each other.

What has become increasingly troubling (and disappointing and angering) for me is the way Ms. Clinton’s been running her candidacy and allowing her close supporters to show their support for her.

It started for me with an Op-Ed that Gloria Steinem wrote in which she posited that gender trumps race and that not only is it farFAR easier to be a Black man in America it is, in fact, an advantage because a Black man is still a man.

Now, I must admit that I have never been a fan of Ms. Steinem.
(I find her regressive, myopic and dismissive and this Op-Ed really cemented for me my feelings about her brand of so-called Feminists. Ms. Steinem has outlived her usefulness to any progressive movement and should just go to her little glass house and wait for the stone throwers.)
But I will say that the underlying comment about the shameful use of misogyny in this primary season is correct. I will agree that is seems that the use of overt misogyny and sexism are still more palatable to the American media (and it seems, public at large) than racism. But it is a fallacy, a GROSS fallacy, to assert the theory that because sexism is more palatable racism no longer exists (Ms. Steinem). I will also put out there that I found Ms. Steinem’s comments about the younger female Obama supporters to be downright distasteful and I wonder if there isn’t some twinge of misogyny there as well.

And then there came this gem from another Clinton supporter, Ms. Ferraro.

Here’s the thing that really bothers me. One of Obama’s advisors, Samantha Powers, called Ms. Clinton a “monster.” No, I do not believe that Ms. Clinton is actually a monster; I believe that throughout this campaign she has allowed her people to behave monstrously. But the thing is that when Ms. Powers said that the Clinton camp was enraged and called for her to be fired. Ms. Powers both resigned AND apologized to Ms. Clinton.

Ms. Ferraro has since resigned from the Clinton campaign, but has she been made to issue an apology? No.
Not unless you count the half-assed: “I am sorry that people think this was a racist comment.” Yeah, well, I’m sorry that you think that’s an acceptable response Ms. Ferraro. I’m sorry that you felt like your white-privilege (to say that kind of fucked up shit on a national stage AFTER the Steinem madness) was being attacked.
Speaking of which has Ms. Clinton addressed the grievous hurt and animosity that Ms. Steinem’s Op-Ed piece contributed to many Americans? No.
Has Ms. Clinton even addressed what her husband recently said? Has he been removed from the campaign? Has he apologized? No.

I’m swinging here, as you can probably tell, to the Reverend Wright fiasco. [No link. Just google it. It's too easy.]
Fiasco not because I necessarily disagree with him -I actually giggled when I heard the God Damn America line (What? It was fucking clever and parts of it were maddeningly true)- but fiasco because of the boiling down of a man’s life’s work into 30 second sound-bites. Fiasco because of the media’s and (White)America’s inability to speak intelligently about race and their fear of the anger of Black Americans. Fiasco because people were so wrapped up in how hard the media has been on Ms. Clinton because she’s a woman that they’ve been completely willing to chalk up the the impact of race in this campaign season (and in this country) as a fiction in Black people’s minds.

Why? Because we’re all post-racial now.

Post-racial, when I first saw that diagnosis I thought, “Well ain’t this some shit.”
What does that term even mean? After-racial?
What comes after race? Ethnicity?
America isn’t and never will be post-racial. Some would say that there’s just one race, the Human Race (or the Rat Race if you’re a smartass like me), in America. To that I say, “Shut up, hippie.”
America is a country that for hundreds of years considered people of darker complexion to not even be a part of the human race.
America is not homogeneous. Neither in thought, nor in deed, nor in socioeconomic position nor in melanation. I posit that one of America’s greatest struggles, the colour-line, is also one of America’s greatest strengths. To erase that history and suggest that that past has no bearing on our future is disingenuous if not downright dangerous. Dangerous to America.
A post-racial America is a post-America, America.

So, anyhoods, Reverend Wright said some things that got people all riled up. It even got some people (Pat Buchanan) to claim that they have no idea why Black people
(1. Reverend Wright is but one man not an entire race. 2. I would say that it is America’s history of systemic disenfranchisement and racism that creates a dynamic where anytime a person of colour achieves any moment in the spotlight they immediately become THE spokesperson of The Race.)

are so upset and that they should instead be grateful:

“First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.
Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.
Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans.”

The media descended upon Reverend Wright and his association with Obama by storm, calling for Obama to renounce his pastor and mentor of 20 years for the few 30-second sound bites that had been leaked to the press.
Obama instead gave the most inspiring speech of my lifetime and showed himself to be a real statesman (and, dear I say) patriot.

And then, Wright said some more stuff and Obama was forced to publicly renounce him. In fact, just about anytime that Obama or his campaign say something unsavory there is an apology issued.

Ms. Clinton has yet to publicly respond to any of the shit that her campaign has been stirring. Dirty dirty pool. And despite all of that I was really still ready to give it to her for sticking to her guns and her fight.

And then, she said this here:
"Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.
There's a pattern emerging here."

She’s right, the pattern emerging is this: Ms. Clinton cannot keep herself above the fray. She’s a dirty fighter, an Us vs. Them fighter and we’ve already had that in the White House for 8 years now.

Speaking with the paper, Clinton rejected the notion her comments were racially divisive in any way.

"These are the people you have to win if you're a Democrat in sufficient numbers to actually win the election," she said. "Everybody knows that."

Ms. Clinton just cannot keep herself from resorting to low blows. Low blows to the community that helped overwhelming sweep her husband into office in the first place. Low blows to a community that she has oft-repeated her love and respect of.

Ms. Clinton’s campaign has simultaneously tried to court me because I’m a woman but dismissed me because I’m a Black woman. I’ve been told by Clinton supporters that it’s my duty as a woman to vote for Ms. Clinton and that if I don’t vote for Ms. Clinton it’s simply because I’m Black. And now, Ms. Clinton herself is saying that I, as a middle-class Black woman who’s had some college education and is holding down an office job, do not count at all.

And she’s not apologized for it.
And this, this is the kind of behavior that makes me incredibly angry when my white female friends tout their support for Ms. Clinton. This is the kind of behavior that has left me wearied and battered and ready to explode.

This is exactly what I do not want in any President of my country and yet… if she gets The Nom, I’m going to be forced to swallow all of the wrongs that she has done to me so that the White House doesn’t go to McCain.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Surprise! The first post is not about how Sondra was useless.

I'd planned to start this blog with some deep reflection and then a wise crack about the Clan Huxtable. That'll have to just wait until later.
Instead, I'm posting as my first post here my most recent post from my NYC Blog.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the Sean Bell acquittal.

Mostly I’ve been thinking, as AngryBlackBitch puts it, about “my brother, my cousins, my uncle, my friends and was my father and my grandfathers and others who have gone to be with God.”

I’ve been thinking about “…what the murder of Sean Bell translates to for me…how my mind instantly redirected to the black men I know, the weddings I have anticipated witnessing…to real people who could have and would have been shot dead as that night merged into morning because of what police officers thought was about to happen.”

My brother is unwell. So unwell, in fact, that he refuses to go to doctors or seek counseling to find out what the imbalance is so that it might be corrected. He has a history of making bad choices and finding himself in unfortunate situations. He has a familiarity with paranoid thinking that often borders on diagnosable. He hasn’t been able to answer a question without grandiose allegory since 2000. I have, on one scary occasion, gotten a called from Bellevue’s psychiatric wing about him.

He is young. He is angry. He is Black and he lives in America.

(I'm going to take a moment to let ya'll know that I was in highschool I made the, I thought, rather bold statement, "The only thing that I like about America is the fact that I don't have to like it." [As I'm sure you can surmise this did not go over well in my liberal New England highschool.] Since I've gotten older -more specifically since I began reading The Audacity of Hope one Christmas holiday at Girlfriend's mother's house- I've liked America for a few more reasons (which I won't get into right now) but I've also become, I think, a bit more aware about the America
in which I live. Every day is a movement towards clarity and generosity of thought.)

A friend of mine posed the following question on Facebook:
Are police and law enforcement ever good for black people?

I replied with the following:

I am not sure that the police are good for anyone.

As per the NYPD website, their mission is to “enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide for a safe environment” and apprehend those who offend the law so that they might be brought forward to receive punishment.

Their job is not to protect or help us. This fact already puts all of us as citizens at a disadvantage as far as the system goes.

The fact that the NYPD is powered human beings who bring to it a host of their own prejudices complicates the matter.
This is a complication that greatly impacts people of colour.
America has done a good job of systematically teaching us to fear people with brown skin. America has done an exceptional job of mythologizing Black people, specifically Black men, as threats. This doesn’t go away when someone joins the NYPD. In fact, due to profiling, it probably increases.

Didn’t the officers in the Sean Bell trial admit that they were scared [SCARED. Ain't that some shit. The police, the only people in the vicinity known to have guns were scared] of Mr. Bell and his associates? One could argue that those officers got off because the judge decided that their fear of Mr. Bell due to the colour of his skin was justified.
Judge: “They shot him because Black men are scary and (of course) carry guns and so that’s okay with me (and the system). Suck it!”

This is not to say that I am not for the enforcement of laws, preservation of peace and reduction of fear. This is not to say that I think that all police officers are bad. I just think that they’re human and they’re doing what is still a pretty dangerous job. It’s just that for most people with brown skin, a lot of the time the police officers are the danger.

I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to post this first in my NYC Blog.
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
What happened to Mr. Bell happened in The City so it is fair game.
It’s fair game because it says a lot about The City and it’s important to openly confront what it says and how we feel about what it says.
What happened to Mr. Bell says a lot not only about The City, but the America in which we live… so I’ve started this blog in which I will work on thinking critically about the America in which I live.