Hillary Clinton’s feminism doesn’t speak to everyone

Her poor track record when it comes to race makes a difference.

by Kemi Giwa, Staff Writer

According to polls, Hillary Clinton is likely to be the next President of the United States.

Even more noteworthy, the first woman President of the United States.

Should I feel guilty I am not jumping for joy?

I recognize the historical impact of her nomination and what it means for young girls and women, that they have the ability to be anything they want to be, even the leader of the free world.

After scrolling through congratulatory Facebook posts and tweets hashtagged “#ImWithHer” from my peers, I tried to match their excitement, but I could not.

Something I noticed about the demographic of her supporters was that they were overwhelmingly women, more specifically, college-educated white women.

That makes a difference.

Whereas many of the white women I go to school with and surround myself with see Hillary Clinton as a pioneer breaking the highest glass ceiling, I see her candidacy differently.

When electing a president, it is important that voters look at the candidate’s track record as an indicator for how they will govern. We look at how a candidate’s viewpoints and previous work will impact our life. It becomes personal.

Hillary Clinton supported policies that contributed to the mass incarceration of black men, such as the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act. During her husband’s presidency, poverty in the black community rose with legislation that she supported. Furthermore, during her time as First Lady she referred to black youth as “super predators” — a racist term that was never used for white kids when they committed crime. Rather than exploring how poverty and social exclusion led them to make certain decisions, she urged the need for them to be brought to “heel” as if they were wild animals.

Clinton’s nomination represents the success of the growing mainstream feminist movement — a movement that has largely left black women out and often fails to be inclusive of us.
These are just a few reasons why I am ambivalent toward Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination. It does not feel like a victory for me.

I feel as if Clinton’s nomination represents white women. Neither her policies nor her words have alienated white women. They see themselves in her. I do not.

As a black woman, it is difficult to see myself as just a “woman” like many white women do. They do not have any burden associated with their skin color. Their whiteness is the norm.

Not mentioning that not all women were able to act on that right in 1920 is indicative of her blind spot when it comes to race.”

This is reinforced when one takes a look at policies pushed to improve conditions for women and how rarely they included women of color. While white women gained the right to vote in 1920, black women had to fight for decades more before being assured the same right nationwide.

Clinton has often put her achievement in context of woman’s suffrage, suggesting that her nomination is a victory that should resonate with all women. Not mentioning that not all women were able to act on that right in 1920 is indicative of her blind spot when it comes to race.

This is not an endorsement of Donald Trump, and there is no truth in the assertion that Clinton and Trump are equally as dangerous. Rather, this is an analyzation of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy from the perspective of a woman of color who has yet to see the benefits of her or her husband’s policies.

As we continue to fight for visibility, it is imperative that we pay close attention to those who promise to improve our conditions and work to fight against being pushed to the sidelines.