Hillary Clinton for Prez in 2016.
Jada Pinkett not here for it in 2015.
Former First Lady Hillary Clinton announced recently that she was coming for the Oval Office in 2016, and while feminists and supporters of Hill everywhere were jumping for joy and prepping to campaign, Miss Pinkett was not so quick to jump on the bandwagon.
Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith has always been outspoken about women coming together and uniting on the womanist front, but in an open letter titled "Race & Gender" she posted on her Facebook page, the 43-year-old wife and mom says that Hillary running for POTUS has left her confused and anxious.
In the post, Jada explains that while gender issues usually unite women as a whole, other political issues deeply divide white women and women of color. Jada questions whether or not Hillary's political agenda will include the concerns of all women- regardless of race- or will it successfully exclude black women in these movements as history has shown us before?
Hillary Clinton is running for President. When Hillary made her announcement, I was more confused and anxious than excited. Her announcement conjured many old hurts and scars.
In the past, I have been criticized for suggesting that black women extend our media platforms to white women in the way in which white women are making strides to extend their media platforms to us, but Hillary’s announcement reminded me that the relationship between black and white women on the political platform has been deeply complicated, disappointing and painful. The only question I have been asking myself is if I’m suppose to vote for Hillary because she is a woman; will she take us to the mountaintop with her or will women of color once again be left out and left behind?
Jada also goes on to drop a little history lesson about black women being excluded from the Suffrage Movement (a fight and legal right for women to vote that took place in the late 1800s-1920) before sharing that she has personally had to endure racism within the feminist movement while 14-year-old daughter Willow has to deal with "ageism."
For example, during the Woman's Suffrage Movement, black women were specifically excluded because Northern white women feared of losing support of Southern white women if black women were included. What made it even more offensive is that the two women given the credit of pioneering the woman's movement were at first abolitionists. Those were complicated times, but as time has gone on it seems as if that sentiment of separatism did not let up and permeated through the feminist movement as a place to facilitate and empower white women only. I personally suffered the racism and classism of the feminist movement and now have had to watch my daughter battle even ageism as she journeys to participate in the feminist movement. But she continues to fight the good fight referring to herself as a feminist while her mother refers to herself as a womanist who supports feminism and feminists. You can imagine that Willow and I have had some “spirited" conversations about this topic that's uneasy for even a mother and daughter to talk about at times which simply illuminates how volatile a subject it could be for a nation of women to explore...but we must.
How will we reconcile the past to move into the future? Can Hillary, whether she becomes President or not, heal the broken political ties of the women of this nation? I know it takes far more than the idea of being the first female President of the United States to run this country, but as a woman, it sure is an exciting idea. Women of color and white women have been taking on the majority of their fights on the political platform on separate lines; can Hillary Clinton change that legacy through her journey to become president? Because if she can...she would not only have my vote...but she would have my heart.
To all my women friends of all colors and creeds, this is a great opportunity for healing and reconciliation… let’s woman up in the spirit of compassion to gain more understanding of one another and the issues we face. Let’s get the conversation started…
Jada Pinkett-Smith isn't the only one with reservations. Anti-violence activist Wagatwe Wanjuki says that she has some concerns as well, telling TIME Magazine:
I am waiting for evidence that she gets how we women of color are affected by issues in ways that are different from our white counterparts. What are her thoughts on the Hyde Amendment? [The amendment that prohibits public funding for abortions, making the procedure inaccessible for low-income women of color.] As president, how is she going to use her bully pulpit to address the high rates of gender-based violence in our communities? What plans does she have to reduce our unique barriers to achieving quality health care?
According to the Center for American Progress, “In 2012, Black women voted at a higher rate than any other group—across gender, race, and ethnicity—and, along with other women of color, played a key role in President Obama’s reelection." In knowing this, it seems as though Hillary Clinton is well aware that addressing issues that concern women of color will help her win, and has already prepared herself to target those concerns on the campaign trail by recently hiring law professor and former senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, Maya Harris as her Senior Policy Adviser. Why does this matter?
According to Vox:
Harris, the sister of California Senate candidate Kamala Harris, isn't a known member of Clintonland. She didn't hold a key position in Bill Clinton's White House, or on Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, or in Hillary Clinton's State Department. She's a law professor and, most recently, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where she published only a single paper — but it's a paper that may prove key to Clinton's 2016 efforts to hold, and even expand, Obama's coalition.
The paper's title is "Women of Color: A Growing Force in the American Electorate," and in it, Harris criticizes politicians and political strategists for only addressing the concerns of women of color "as a part of broader efforts aimed at women, youth, or a specific racial or ethnic group." Women of color, Harris argues, are their own, incredibly fast-growing voting bloc, and any politician who wants to win them needs to make sure "their interests are priorities on the policy agenda."
In a nutshell, it seems as though Hillary Clinton is already rolling up her sleeves and ready to tackle the concerns of Jada and women of color. She has to if she wants to win the presidential race.
What are your thoughts?