Black Lives Matter has been focusing on the potential presidential candidates in an effort to force them to address the issues plaguing the Black community such as the enduring brutality from police officers. In a meeting with Hilary Clinton, Black Lives Matter members were able to ask her a few questions and Clinton’s response has caused a maelstrom of polarized opinions about what she said.
Hilary Clinton is a 67 year old rich, White, female politician and for a number of reasons is far removed from the principles and ideals that are driving the Black Lives Matter movement. Clinton’s demographics are important to understanding her views because in her first response she sidestepped the question just as any seasoned politician would do. She neither confirmed nor denied her responsibility for legislation that she supported and that was passed during her husband’s presidency and shifted the conversation to an abstract rhetoric about what “we” should do to address the issue. From a political/PR perspective it was a smooth move; however, what I love that Black Lives Matter is doing is that they are counter sidestepping that bullshit and forcing politicians to confront the tangible realities of peoples lives – Black lives in particular.
Clinton comes from a generation, a social class, an ethnicity, a professional industry that believes that policy is what changes the world. She believes that the way to fix an unjust system is by working in and through the rules of that system but, then, why shouldn’t she? The system serves her in most every way and it is only fitting that she serve it.
Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not gonna change every heart, you’re not. But at the end of the day we can do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities…
– Hilary Clinton
I have often questioned whether it reasonable to think or expect for White allies to the struggle to be able to go as far as we do in pursuit of equality and justice. Our victory for them will result in an extreme life change. I guess only time will tell. However, Clinton’s stance speaks to that question because while she says she’s in support of the movement – and maybe she believes that she is – the truth is that even in her explanation she has already made room for compromise, which is something we cannot accept.
If we have learned anything from the mistakes of the Civil Rights Movement is that we cannot allow the movement to eclipsed, diluted, and appropriated by other struggles. It is completely okay to stand in solidarity with other movements: LGBTQ, women’s rights and others but this movement has even while not encroaching on the space of those movements must have its own space. The other thing that we have learned is that we cannot compromise. We cannot accept less than exactly what we are demanding: a radical change in the system that oppresses us and the philosophies that feed it. So when Clinton states that she doesn’t believe in changing hearts but in changing policies it lets us know that she is not a champion of the cause and through her there will be no change. It’s just business as usual.
That is why it will be difficult for people from a disenfranchised population to trust an advocate like Clinton. Her demeanor and response like that of many people from the privileged class has an imperialistic tone that disregards people. How can she suggest that we ignore people and instead manipulate the system that controls them? That is how this country got to be in the state that it’s in. Because we ignore the will of the people and the circumstances of their lives to play chess with the systems and processes that dictate the state and quality of life in which people live.
Hilary did nothing wrong. Actually she did what we should want all the presidential candidates to do and that’s let us know exactly what they believe and where we stand. I have always said it is better to hear the devil speak than to wonder if it’s the devil you’re dealing with. We now know, at least, exactly where Clinton stands on the issues that matter most to us and we will respond accordingly at the polls.
So while Clinton’s typical political posturing is the polished best, the battle field has changed. She must realize that “business as usual” is no longer the standard and the future leaders of this country will have to do more than just master the motions to office because this generation of voters and citizens are looking for something else. They are looking for a message, a philosophy, a dream that will change this country and not just a law, a policy, an amendment to the system that will be so thoroughly diluted in the traditional, antiquated politics and bureaucracy that have made American politics a minstrel show for power.
Whether or not there will emerge a candidate that will be any better than Clinton is yet to be seen and maybe this term none will but Black Lives Matter is beginning to expose some of the truth about the problem with American politics and especially with the presidential election process. The biggest problem there is that most of the candidates see this as as a race that the candidates make for the most powerful position in the country when it actually is a challenge to the people to put into the greatest position of power a person who truly believes in change. There needs to be a president that can admit that the laws, the allocation of resources, and the way systems operate in this country are inherently flawed and need to be radically altered. Surely one president and 2 terms won’t accomplish that but the changing of the hearts of people who may one day hold that position will. That is why as Black Lives Matters stated, it is significantly important to change hearts and minds and to build a mass commitment to seeking the changes this country so desperately needs. One of the first steps is to change the hearts of the leaders of this country or at least expose their true feelings to the American public to whom the power to choose those leaders belongs.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man