Clinton’s platform reflective of progressive, intersectional feminism

by Anthony Berteaux, Staff Columnist

When Hillary Clinton spoke at a Planned Parenthood Action Fund dinner about the intersection of reproductive rights, economic inequality and systemic racism on June 10, she revealed herself to be what many of her critics fear: an intersectional feminist.

Intersectional feminism is a theory that says women face various levels of oppression dependent upon other factors — race, class and sexual orientation among them.

Clinton has demonstrated that she has evolved to address these issues with an intersectional slant. Her platform has been shaped by the social movements of the 21st century.

Feminists have long seen the Hyde Amendment — a 1976 legislative provision that barred federal funds from being used for abortion — marginalized as an issue.

“We need to fight back against the erosion of reproductive rights at the federal, state, and local levels,” Clinton said at the Planned Parenthood dinner. “Let’s repeal laws like the Hyde Amendment that make it nearly impossible for low-income women, disproportionately women of color, to exercise their full reproductive rights.”

This analysis was surprising coming from Clinton. In the 1990s she supported a crime bill that disproportionately affected communities of color and referred to gang members as “super predators.” During her 2008 presidential run she said that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”

Daily Aztec columnist Kemi Giwa argued that Clinton represented the dying embers of feminism that has historically ignored the concerns and issues affecting communities of color in the United States.

Clinton’s evolution was apparent in her comments in Flint, Michigan on the water crisis. She said that it was not only a public health crisis, but also a one born out of systemic racism and economic inequality.

Clinton included environmental injustice in her “racial justice” platform, and referenced it in the Democratic primary debates.

In her platform, published on her website, Clinton draws lines between issues such as criminal justice reform, mass incarceration, the school to prison pipeline, racial injustice, gun violence and women’s rights.

Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown professor and author of “The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America,” wrote in the New Republic that Clinton could give us what President Barack Obama could not, “a set of political practices and policies that reinforce the truth that black lives must, and do, finally matter.”

Rebecca Traister wrote in New York Magazine that this election is a “civil war” between those that seek to continue the legacy of white supremacy and patriarchy in this country and those who wish for a more just political, economic and social system.

No other interaction demonstrates Clinton’s ability to listen and learn from her constituents than her speech at Clark Atlanta University. When disrupted by a chant of “Black Lives Matter,” Clinton paused and agreed.

“To all the young people today, to those who are listening and those who are singing,” she said, “we need you. We need the promise of a rising generation of activists and organizers who are fearless in your advocacy and determination.”

She acknowledged that Jim Crow never ended, but has manifested in voter ID laws, mass incarceration and police brutality.

Clinton’s embrace of these issues is radical because her approach shows signs that systemic change can happen without dismantling the system, but working within it.

As president, Clinton would not ignore these issues. Her victory would not only break the glass ceiling, but would usher in a new intersectional era of politics.