AN OPEN LETTER TO WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON
Wow, you’ve become quite the comedian haven’t you? At a rally in Memphis this past Friday you made some “funny comments,” and I’ve got to tell you, they truly were worth a chuckle.
But before I get into why I found pieces of your speech to be so comical and frankly, unbelievable, I must first let you know that I truly do respect you as an individual. You overcame what by your own account was a tough upbringing in an unstable home environment. You went on to have a meritorious record at some of the most admirable academic institutions the world has to offer. Your political career (though marred by a few questionable decisions) was one that gained you massive popularity, much of which you still enjoy today. And your foundation’s work towards alleviating health issues and poverty on a global scale is, without question, quite remarkable.
Over the course of the past several weeks of this election cycle, you’ve started getting more involved with Hillary’s push for the presidency. As a result, it has been debated across almost every media platform whether your assistance is advantageous or detrimental to her campaign. Could you be the most impactful first spouse in the history of this nation? Will the Lewinsky scandal come back to haunt you once again? Can you rope in more of the black vote your family has always assumed will come to your aid?
All of these may be intriguing questions — especially to the uninformed voter. And that’s fine; this demographic seems to be one that your family has taken advantage of for years (as have the vast majority of politicians). That’s not your fault, it’s up to us as citizens to do our research and be reasonably au fait with both the platforms on which our candidates of choice run, and their records as elected officials.
If I had been of voting age during your presidential campaigns in the ’90s, I likely would have voted for you each time you ran. I can’t say that with complete certainty, but there is a high probability that I would have recognized you as my candidate of choice. Similarly, I was still two years away from being eligible to vote in a national election when Hillary ran in 2008. But I can say my family gave her a fair chance; in fact, I might even argue that we were leaning heavily in her favor early on in the race. Though there are conservative pundits that might suggest otherwise, many people of color (like my mother and I) did in fact engage in research rather than just voting for the guy whose complexion most closely resembled their own. Ultimately, we settled on Obama for a number of reasons, but one of the main factors that swung us to his side was his message of hope and recognizable change. Don’t get me wrong, Hillary ran on a platform that was intended to be similarly inspiring. The major difference for us was that Obama came across as far more genuine.
Now it is the better part of a decade later and Hillary is running again. Yet again, I’ve given her a fair chance. I haven’t capitulated to those who imply that we should vote for her simply because it’s time this country elects a female president. As a feminist, I hope we do elect a female president in the near future, but she must be one that we as a people feel is most suited for the highest job in the land. Sadly, I fear Hillary is not this figure.
You see Bill, not only is your wife a documented liar, but she now has you going state to state sputtering half-truths yourself. Don’t believe me? Let’s analyze just a couple of the statements you made at Whitehaven High School late last week.
Just under 40 minutes into your time on stage, you spoke about how Hillary went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund 40 years ago. You noted that she posed as a concerned mother and gulled an officer of admissions at an all-white academy into admitting that the school did in fact enforce a racial bias when accepting students. Pretty clever stuff, I have to tip my hat to her for that one. But according to you, that revelation was then used in a report that “changed the world.” Seems to be a bit of an exaggeration, right? You might have realized this because you stumbled on your words after that declaration. Well actually, maybe not. You followed that statement up by implying that your wife’s work began to weaken the foundations of these racist institutions, as they were no longer able to claim tax exemptions. Ok so now we can be sure, both you and Ms. Clinton absolutely missed the goal. How can I say that with such conviction? Because the issue you spoke of happened 40 years ago and those same problems persist today. The root of the issue was never whether or not those institutions received tax exemptions. The problem was that those academies were part of a system that was, and still is, inherently racist.
Next, you lauded Ms. Clinton for going to South Carolina to determine why the state was jailing such a large number of young African Americans. You said her work resulted in reforms in incarceration programs as well as in the Senate. You even went on to call her “the best change-maker” you’ve ever known. After reviewing her current policy on criminal justice reform, I’ll agree, the potential is there. But even if I were foolish enough to believe any of Hillary’s promises at this point, I’d realize she’d be working to clean up a mess towards which your presidency actively contributed. Though you’ve since apologized, you must realize that an apology does very little for those who were never given the chance to achieve the American Dream (a dream which some now view as dead). Furthermore, you must understand how laughable it is for you and your wife to suggest that if we unite behind a new Clinton administration, we’ll all be in a position to “give the American Dream back to everybody regardless of race, income, region, or sexual orientation.”
And finally I come to a statement that really irked me on a personal level. About five minutes into your speech you addressed Steve Cohen’s introductory remark that you were just a stand-in for the first black president. You responded by reminding us that unless we come from a pure bloodline, we’re all mixed-race people. As someone who identifies as mixed-race, I’m aware of and thankful for the Human Genome Project (HGP) and its benefits. However, I’m disappointed that you seem to think that identifying as a mixed-race individual will win over the hearts and minds of people of color. Let me be the one to inform you Bill: AMERICA DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR HERITAGE.
That may come as a surprise to you. What? Isn’t America a melting pot, a land where people of all backgrounds and walks of life come together and live as one? No, it isn’t, and it never has been. We tolerate each other, yes, but we aren’t a unified group.
Still skeptical? Tell me Bill, as a mixed-race person, have you ever witnessed a white woman adopt a noticeably tighter grip on her purse as you walk past like I have? Have you ever had a friend (let alone multiple friends) whose parents refused to meet you because of the color of your skin? Have you ever had someone tell you that you should still be enslaved like your ancestors were? Have you ever gone to counseling in hopes of working through such issues, only to be assigned to a white person who couldn’t possibly understand your problems? Have you ever been called a nigger Bill?
I understand the point of your message may have been one of unity. I’m sure you recognize racism is still a major problem in contemporary society. You even encouraged us to focus on the 99.5% of our genome that makes us similar rather than paying so much attention to that other .5%. The reality that you don’t seem to completely grasp is that there are no quick fixes to the issue of race in America. Saying we’re all mixed-race is not going to be the band-aid that closes the proverbial wounds minority groups work towards healing every day. The HGP may recognize us all as mixed-race, but racists in America do not.
My evidence? Well, there have been two men who’ve called me a nigger this month alone and they clearly recognized me as black — I’m willing to bet they wouldn’t have made the same “mistake” with you.