As a Black Woman, I Didn't Believe Hillary Clinton When She Declared "Black Girls Rock!"

This is the white feminism which co-opts our platforms and seek our support without providing adequate representation or reciprocity.
Publish date:
April 6, 2016
politics, black women, HIllary Clinton, Throwing Shade, Black Girls Rock

Last night, Hillary Clinton showed up to BET's Black Girls Rock! 2016 to deliver a speech to a room full of Black women there to celebrate — for a single night — the magic, beauty, strength and resilience of Black girls across the nation.

Her speech was met with a standing ovation, but as a 26-year-old Black woman, I am far from inspired by Hillary's words. Despite the warm reception she received, don't think for a moment that Black women are not shading the hell out of Hillary Clinton for her misguided attempt at pandering to us for our vote, which she so desperately needs.

Black girls having been rocking forever. Their achievements were left uncelebrated, to a large extent, until the non-profit youth empowerment and mentoring organization Black Girls Rock! started in 2006 and began having an annual televised award ceremony to celebrate Black girl magic. Yet, Hillary only decided to show up during the year she is campaigning for president?

Her blatantly opportunistic appearance at the award ceremony last night only solidified my belief that Hillary Clinton is more interested in using Black women to further her own agenda than she is in advocating for the very Black women she seeks support from. And I rebuke the white woman who believes she can use the platform created, inspired and funded by Black women to do so. Not today, Satan!

As a woman campaigning to become the next president of the United States of America, it is undeniable that Hillary Clinton is facing tons of backlash and sexism in politics. Naturally, the success of her campaign hinges on her support from the female demographic, which theoretically should align itself with her as a woman and a feminist. For this reason precisely, it should come as no surprise that Hillary spearheaded an initiative a few years ago — No Ceilings: The Full Participation Projectto tackle gender-based inequality and "inspire the full participation of girls and women around the world."

Yet, a perfunctory gander at both her website and the No Ceilings website reveals one hard to miss fact: the issues facing Black women and girls are completely absent and not at all featured. The same goes for the accomplishments of Black women in 2015.

While the Clinton Foundation's website featured "ceiling-breaking moments from the past year," including headlines like "Malawi and Guatemala raised the minimum age of marriage to 18" and "Hollywood actors advocated to close the gender wage gap," not a single celebration of Black female achievement can be found on the entire page, despite the fact that Black women were responsible for bringing awareness to police brutality via #blacklivesmatter and Bree Newsome climbed that damn high ass pole to decry confederate flag racism (among the dozens of other examples of "ceiling breaking" Black female activism and excellence).

Should I also remind everyone that 2015 was a historic year for Black female actors, with Viola Davis becoming the first Black woman to win the Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy and other ladies claiming awards, despite the overwhelming whiteness of industry? I suppose these moments are not “ceiling-breaking” enough, by Clinton’s criteria, to be worthy of acknowledgement.

Additionally, Clinton's No Ceilings website features multiple statistics about the global fight for girls' right to education, worldwide female entrepreneur numbers and the fact that, globally, there aren't enough women in executive positions. But why was there no mention of the fact that America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, an issue that disproportionately affects Black women, men and Black children and an issue that was exacerbated by Bill Clinton’s crime bill, which Hillary Clinton vocally supported back in 1994?

And while Hillary continues to highlight the workforce gender gap, Black women's incomes are most affected by racism — a very important impediment to the progress of women of color that remains absent on any of these pages meant to address women's issues. I made the case, sometime ago, that the race-based wage gap are even bigger than the gender-based one, so refusing to acknowledge the impact of racism on wage does a grave disservice to women of color.

Black women are absolutely fed up with this brand of feminism. This is Hillary Clinton's brand of feminism. This is the white feminism which co-opts our platforms and seek our support without providing adequate representation or reciprocity. Why, precisely, has Hillary Clinton never created her own platform to stand upon and declare how much Black girls rock? Did Clinton donate the $133,246 campaign contribution she received from the prison lobby (which she claimed to give to charity) perhaps given to the Black Girls Rock! foundation? Doubtful.

The Black women who were a part of the Black Girls Rock! award ceremony studio audience were kind enough to extend Hillary Clinton applause, but the only actions that will stir such a response from myself and many other Black women is when Hillary steps the heck off the platforms Black women have painstakingly built for ourselves and puts in the work to promote, uplift, support and be a good ally to Black women and girls.

Not just to win the Black female vote, but to earn Black women's respect.