The Finish Line of Faith
Not too long ago, a friend asked me to attend an event at which she was to have a role. I had intended to go, but life got in the way. I'm not sure of the specific events of the week, but there was ugliness in the right-wing media about women (I'm one of those); immigrants (guilty again as charged) and people of color (three for three!) that week and frankly, it had the effect of laying me flat. When I wrote to my friend and advised her that I wouldn't be available because I wasn't feeling right, she responded, "I'm so sorry you're feeling bad again (still?). Feel better." I replied making clear what all was causing my upset. Her response to my articulation of my issues? Silence. It wasn’t the first time I’d felt misheard or ignored but it was to be the last in that particular dyad. The willful deafness to my story told me everything I wanted or needed to know. It told me that I needed to guard my soul, my self. I have done so.
A couple of weeks ago, when the whole Taylor Swift/Kanye West/Kim Kardashian's receipts story broke, Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas wrote a terrific piece about White feminism and its performative feature(s). Specifically, Damon referred to it as "White female performative faux melodrama". After I had cackled, I thought to myself, "Hm! Hm! Hm! Hm! Hm!"
I am not for a moment claiming that Swift doesn't have a just cause against West against his petty ugliness on his latest CD, but I am saying that it is interesting that in every exchange, Ms. Swift manages to paint herself as the damsel in distress in need of saving, and in the very next breath, she calls herself a feminist. That crap gets old. At this point, it's performance art and it is tired and tiresome.
As much of a feminist as she is though, I never heard a mumblin' word out of her and her like-minded so-called feminist friends when actor Leslie Jones was being brutalized on Twitter not too long ago. What I've come to accept is that feminism, much like the 19th Amendment when it was first passed, really doesn't have my needs in mind. I'm an afterthought to 'mainstream' feminism. When today's feminists act in defense of women, it ain't women who look like me. I get it.
Taylor makes me wonder about the long history of the deft use (wielding, really) of delicate 'please protect me' White womanhood to brutalize men of color and by extension their families and to raise up the reptilian passions of White men against those same groups. I think it’s that understanding that causes me to have a bit of a disconnect with Hillary Clinton. Whether she wants/ed to or no, her super predators remark stands, for me, as a strategic inflection point in my understanding of who she is and who she's working for. I don't hate her. I don't think she should go to jail. I don't have especially strong negative feelings about her, I'm just not quite convinced that when she speaks for women, she's actually speaking to or for me. Perhaps, my disconnect is not so much with Hillary as it is with American feminism which very casually and routinely excludes women of color.
I read something some time ago about women and the KKK and realized as I was reading, that it was a narrative with which not only was I not familiar, it was something I simply hadn’t considered.
We know that early twentieth century lynch mobs were primarily comprised of men. It was they who did the actual lynching, but Sunday after church lynch attendees included a good many nice Christian women and their children. No one had to beg them to show up. They attended of their own volition. More important still, lynchings frequently began with a White woman claiming that some Black man had somehow offended the ‘natural order’ by making advances towards her. Frequently, the entire story was more of what Young referred to as “White female performative faux melodrama” but no one knew that in the moment did they? Nor did they care.
These women are ever taken at their word when they claim that something has occurred and White men race off and handle it. No need for Olivia Pope, it's handled! That is still the case. Surely, we all remember the case of Susan Smith? She who strapped her children into their car seats and rolled her car into a lake. When questioned by the police, she claimed that a Black man had stolen the car and her children. It was several days before she broke down and told the truth. Until she did, the police were out searching for a Black man and her two White children. And it ain't only White women who excel at this type of performance. Surely we remember John Crawford, shot dead in a Walmart carrying an air rifle he was seeking to purchase? Ronald Richie called 911 and claimed that Mr. Crawford was threatening shoppers with the gun. No such claim has been proven but Mr. Crawford will threaten no one ever again.
So forgive me if former FLOTUS Clinton's claim, in the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, that some of us were super-predators (a term, hithertofore used only to describe animals) who needed to be brought to heel (a term hithertofore used in reference to animals) casts a long ugly and dark shadow which I can't shake. Since those days of super-predation, folk have been routinely bringing young Black men to heel, courtesy the school to prison pipeline, Stop & Frisk, three strikes laws and the granddaddy of 'em all, extra-judicial executions on the streets.
I admire Secretary Clinton, the work she has done and the folks she has chosen to help but I just have a really hard time crossing the finish line of faith with her. This ain't about Benghazi. This ain't about an email server. This ain't about Bill or his peccadilloes, neither is it about how she dealt with Monica Lewinsky, Jennifer Flowers or whomever else Bill was allegedly messing around with. I'm sure she's great and while I feel that she has a wee bit more awareness of her privilege than The Donald, I remain wary, kinda like I'm wary every time Taylor Swift drops a new CD. I know she's about to diss somebody. I know somebody's going to get hurt. I know the passive aggressive claws are going to come out, I just don't know who will be on the receiving end of her next swipe.
I'm sure Sec'y Clinton is a wonderful mother, but does she comprehend that maternal wonderfulness is directly related to resource availability? I just don't know.
I'm sure that she regrets the unintended consequences of the 1994 Crime Bill signed by her husband, but I'm not sure that either she or Bill will ever admit to the unintended consequences of the 1994 Crime Bill.
I'm sure she wants women around the world to make a better living, but I'm not sure that she took that into consideration when her State Department sided with billion-dollar garment companies to limit wage growth for Haitian manufacturing workers or that she will give equal weight to workers when faced with a TPP bill.
I'm sure she decries the horror that is the for-profit prison industry but I'm not sure that she refuses their contributions to her campaigns or that she will ever call out the industry for being what it is: entirely odious and an abomination.
Is she qualified? Hell yeah that goes without saying. Am I a fangirl though? No. I'm not. I don't know that I ever will be.
Damon Young, in his article on VSB, describes Taylor as the coworker who manages to parlay the smallest slight into a raise and a promotion through Oscar-worthy performance of faux melodrama. I am not convinced that Taylor and Hillary aren't kissing kin. Hillary is guilty of her own form of faux melodrama, her own form of crying wolf.
I won’t soon forget Madame Secretary of State on the debate stage with Bernie Sanders claiming - with a straight face - that she couldn’t possibly represent the establishment because she’s a girl. A Clinton? Not establishment? I don't see it. The former Secretary who holds every establishment position that it is possible to hold and who is supported by a good two-thirds of the House and Senate claims to be an outsider? Um, k. The Secretary is as establishment as it's possible to be and at the same time gets to claim "I am woman hear me roar" privileges.
Not too long ago, a friend asked me to attend an event at which she was to have a role. I had intended to go, but life got in the way. I feel much the same way about Hillary. I want to be all in, I want to be a fan but life keeps getting in the way, history keeps getting in the way.
I know better now than to expect the Secretary of State or any politician to have me on their mind when they make their decisions as president. I know that I must guard my soul, my self. I know that whomever wins in the fall, I'm on my own. So I'm with her, but I'm both weary and wary. As we say at home, Tom drunk but Tom eh no fool. Tom knows that drunk or sober, he'd better mind his business.
I'm with her but I'm watching my step and my back.
About the Author - Elle Sagar
I am a strategic thinker and problem solver. I have a knack for seeing the heart of an issue, clearing away all the noise and nonsense and hopefully making cogent arguments that go to the central issue under consideration. Nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you try. That's a lyric from an Ella Fitzgerald song and from the songbook of my life.