Thursday, February 25, 2016

Why Can't Candidates Not Treat Black People Like Shit?


I'm having trouble understanding this constant inability of any presidential candidate, including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, to not treat Black Lives Matter protesters like shit. It seems like every time, they're met with annoyance, condescension, or at best, avoidance. I guess I get that having your speech interrupted could be stressful, but you'd think by now they'd be prepared for it and would be able to address it without being assholes.

The latest gross response to a Black Lives Matter protester, who payed $1,000 to get herself and the camera person into a small event and have access to the candidate, was of course, Hillary.

I absolutely hate how Hillary responds to this woman. She seems like she begins to sort of respond, saying, "There's a lot of issues in this campaign. The very first speech that I gave, back in April, was about criminal justice reform..." At this point, the protester interrupts her, saying "you called black people predators."

I'm guessing that this interruption happened because the young woman could see that Hillary was just going to go into her record of talking about or supporting criminal justice reform without addressing the actual issue the black woman is talking about, which is that Hillary Clinton called black youth in the criminal justice system "super predators" and said "we have to bring them to heel" back in the 90's. Yikes.

Before Hillary starts going into some self-serving speech about how she's totally pro-non-specific reform, she once again does the "can I talk?" thing. After the young black woman asks Hillary to apologize, Hillary says, "Well, can I talk? Maybe then you'll listen to what I have to say."

Here's the thing, Hillary. You've been talking. All you do is talk. You talk and talk and talk and then you act like having to listen to this protester for 10 seconds is outrageous. And you put your hand out in that "stop talking" way. Has no one explained to you how silencing and failing to listen to black people is a huge part of your problem?

Hillary also fails to tell the people booing and hissing and jeering this black woman to stop and let her speak. Why don't politicians do that? This woman came forward to address a serious issue that people have already been talking about for weeks now and Hillary lets her followers do the same thing that she herself seems so offended by. I want to see one politician who lets a marginalized protester speak, who gives them the space to speak and protects them from assholes in the crowd. Is that hard?

And then after the young black woman interrupts Hillary in the middle of her stump speech about criminal justice reform, her reaction is so condescending. Her body language, facial expression, and words are contemptuous. Looking down on her with that condescending expression and more flippant "can I talk?" and then when the black woman keeps talking, does that fake composed "oh I'm standing here listening but clearly barely able to keep myself from yelling at you" pose.

And here's the thing. This protester can't just stand there and wait for Hillary to maybe at some point address the specific issue that she brought up. Because some white dude in a suit has already approached her to tap her shoulder and lean in and say something quietly, almost certainly trying to make her leave. 40 seconds later (literally) a Secret Service agent comes up, puts his arm around her waist and then shoulders and pretty much forces her out.

And Hillary Clinton does nothing to stop that, either.

So are we supposed to expect that if she had let you talk, Hillary, you would have gotten to a real answer or apology in less than a minute before she was forced out? She interrupted you because she knew she had precious little time before that happened and you wouldn't have to answer for anything.

It wouldn't be hard for a candidate to show that they actually care about the Black Lives Matter movement and, you know, black lives. When the interruption happens, don't act all indignant like you don't have it coming. Stop, let the individual speak, tell your booing hissing asshole white crowd nodders to shut up, then actually apologize. Would it really be that bad for you to just say, "Yeah I was wrong about that, I shouldn't have said it, it was racist and I apologize"? It's not like Hillary hasn't changed her mind on other things. That's her definition of "progressive," after all.

It was fucked up what she said back in the 90's. It was and is fucked up how she supported and contributed to the mass incarceration that has destroyed generations of black people. And it's fucked up to refuse to directly address that indisputable fact and apologize.

Bernie Sanders hasn't been great about this either, but he's been better than Hillary. I just can't respect a candidate who shows such contempt for black people who aren't there to lick her boots. And I don't understand why it's so impossible for her and so many other politicians to be decent to black people who are unapologetic about their attempts to stop local and federal governments from systematically murdering them for being black.

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