Photo: US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan
THOUGH STRONG BLACK WOMEN in the public eye like Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis recently released an ad endorsing Hillary Clinton, as a 26-year-old black woman, I cannot stand by their endorsement.
The Democratic frontrunner self-describes as a “proud modern American progressive” and a “feminist,” yet she has a long history of putting the needs of black women and the black community on the back burner. She has jeopardized the progress and well-being of black people indirectly through her enduring political relationships and support of inequality in the justice system. This history reveals one very hard truth to swallow: Hillary Clinton does not care enough about black lives.
No such relationship demonstrates this more than Clinton’s enduring pact with David Brock, who raised millions of dollars to support Clinton’s presidential bid and runs several groups supporting her campaign, including the super PAC Correct the Record.
David Brock was the right-wing journalist responsible for the character attack on Anita Hill (an AA senator) after she accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment — accusations that were supported by multiple other testimonies and a polygraph test. Brock’s attack began as a 17,000-word article and expanded into a book entitled The Real Anita Hill, which Brock later admitted he completely fabricated to protect Justice Clarence Thomas. A 2001 New York Times article published details on that admission, quoting the journalist saying he did everything to “ruin Hill’s credibility,” using “virtually every derogatory and often contradictory allegation I had collected on Hill into the vituperative mix.” Brock also admitted that he never even interviewed any of the Democratic senators, their staff or Anita Hill’s supporters before demonizing and vilifying them in his completely unfounded take down of Hill.
As a woman who has been a victim of sexual harassment, I find it rather offensive that Kerry Washington is rallying to support Hillary Clinton’s bid — in spite of her connection to David Brock. Especially considering Washington just recently starred in the 2016 movie Confirmation as Anita Hill herself. What kind of statements are Kerry Washington and Hillary Clinton both making to young women, and even more specifically to young black women? Multiple studies have found that 40-60% of black girls experience sexual abuse at the hands of black men by the age of 18. Is the dignity of such girls and women like Anita Hill secondary to politics as usual?
Hillary’s continued relationship with a man who smeared the reputation of a black woman for merely trying to defend herself from sexual harassment and victimization — and Kerry Washington’s support of it — most certainly seem to say just that.
And this is not simply a matter of guilty by association. Though Clinton’s enduring relationship with David Brock does call to question her loyalty to black women, Hillary Clinton’s disregard of black lives and black issues is further demonstrated by her treatment of protestors and her history of supporting bills that lead to mass incarceration.
Two Black Lives Matter activists — young black women — interrupted a private Hillary Clinton fundraising event in South Carolina, one holding a sign that read “we have to bring them to heel,” which is one of the controversial statements Clinton made in 1996 in reference to at-risk youth.
“We want you to apologize for mass incarceration,” the young activist, Ashley Williams, demanded. “I’m not a super predator, Hillary Clinton.”
The two women were promptly escorted out to the tune of anger, moans and groans, as Hillary skirted around the issue.
Whether or not Clinton confronts the reality, her husband’s crime bill — which she vehemently supported at the time of his presidency — was responsible for an increase in the incarcerated population, which disproportionately affected black communities. An analysis of the U.S. Justice Department statistics by the Justice Policy Institute, found that more federal inmates were added to prison under President Bill Clinton than under Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan combined. Black women now account for 30% of all incarcerated women, despite only representing 13% of the female population in the United States
Thus, prison reform is now among the biggest priorities in Clinton’s campaign agenda. In a 2015 statement released by the Hillary for America Campaign, the former Secretary of State said that she plans to, “end private prisons and private immigrant detention centers… [and] believes that we should not contract out this core responsibility of the federal government.” It went on to say, “when we’re dealing with a mass incarceration crisis, we don’t need private industry incentives that may contribute — or have the appearance of contributing — to over-incarceration.”
Yet, Hillary Clinton accepted $133,246 from the biggest for-profit corrections companies up until 2015 when activist groups confronted her on the matter, at which point Clinton claimed that she would donate the money to charity. The specific charities were never disclosed.
Actions speak far louder than words and Clinton’s actions have time and time again demonstrated that she is not honestly on the side of “justice” reform. The presidential hopeful recently gave a pass to Rahm Emanuel — the Chicago mayor who allegedly tried to cover up a video of a 2014 police brutality case in which a Chicago cop shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times as the teen could be vividly seen walking away.
When pressed about Mayor Emanuel’s credibility, Clinton told reporters that she was, “confident that he’s going to do everything he can to get to the bottom of these issues and take whatever measures are necessary to remedy them.”
The former Secretary of State has far more confidence in Emanuel than the people of Chicago do — they’ve repeatedly called for his resignation. Back in May 2014, Emanuel hosted a fundraiser for Clinton and endorsed her for president. Some of Hillary Clinton’s closest allies are clearly enemies of the black community and the continued perseverance of those relationships speaks volumes more than any proposed agenda truly can.
As a black woman, I cannot turn a blind eye to the blatant disregard of the black community exhibited by Clinton’s camp and those that support her with their dollars. For some, the abuse Anita Hill faced at the behest of Clinton’s biggest supporter, David Brock, may merely be a thing of the past. But for black women, such abuse remains stubbornly persistent. Where we are constantly victimized and yet seldom supported or protected. As does police violence and mass incarceration, which has claimed the freedom and lives of thousands of our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends. Hillary Clinton has consistently displayed that she is not ready to confront those realities that we are forced to endure every single day — which she directly had a hand in creating — and thus, that she is no true ally to black women or the black community.