2016 marks an instrumental year for Americans and those like myself exist whom outside the “American” label but live here. This year proves inevitably sad for those swept up into the symbolism of President Obama. This symbolism allowed many the visibility deprived of them throughout their lifetime. This visibility is of course farce as the black body has yet to seize it’s true greatness in existence beyond the error thrust upon it by western society. Perhaps under President Obama’s deductive symbolism blacks faced a new form of terrorism. While millennials rejoiced over prolonged medical coverage, and the world buzzed over The First Lady’s outfit, blacks simultaneously watched Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Renisha McBride, Sandra Bland amongst countless others, die prematurely. Their deaths symbolized a dissolving of the hope displaced without the nation on November 4, 2008. On that date, the black diaspora saw the power of the ballot. In the years that followed we’d become reacquainted with the power of the bullet.
The bullet in its physical and metaphysical fatality, shocked the black body into a realization most pair with denial. Flash forward to 2016. The once inspirational Dr. Ben Carson fizzled into the coonery that undoubtedly fostered his advancement, as the nation returns to an all too familiar palette —an all white palette. Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump remain the most popular and talked about contenders for the 2016 candidacy. Throughout the campaign, Clinton and Trump portrayed oppositional stances contrary to their previous comradery. As a guest to Chealsea Clinton’s wedding a few years prior, Trump was a valued supporter of Clinton’s past endeavors.(The Clinton’s were also in attendance at Trump’s 2005 wedding to 3rd wife Melania) Thus, while the political tide presents them as antithetical, conversely both Clonton and Trump wish to “make America great again.” After learning this phrase was the slogan for Trump’s campaign I was not surprised but it did make me wonder-when was America great?
America, the stolen daughter founded by the indigenous but nurtured by the Africans brought to America in free, back breaking labor. Is this “greatness” referencing the theft of land or the theft of labor? Is this greatness pertaining to the emasculated black male and the sexually abused and mutilated black women? Is this “greatness” referring to the poor sharecroppers and lack of resources afforded to blacks after slavery? Or is this greatness referring to the Jim Crow South that invigorated racism to physical lines of demarcation marking the inferior and superior? Is this greatness referencing the college students beaten and abused as sit-in participants advocating for their rights? In considering these queries it becomes obvious that the referenced “greatness” speaks to the white privilege issued at the horror of the disenfranchised. And since we are referencing America, the disenfranchised are those of the African diaspora.
At first glance the Clinton’s seem intertwined with those of the African diaspora. However, if given a second glance, these dealings provoke a resonant askance. Overtly, we see Hillary Clinton attending events in various black communities within and beyond the Unites States. However, to those that contest Clinton’s alignment with the “make America great again” phrase, consult the “super predator” law implemented in the late nineties. The super-predator law links repeated offenders with a mindset that warrants a life sentence. While the law does not outline its targets directly, the law targets black males—who make up the minority outside prison but are the majority within prison. Young black men in impoverished neighborhoods often obtain offenses for simply existing while black, as opposed to their white male counterparts who are too often overlooked for petty crimes. Thus, in designating those with a certain amount of crimes life sentences, black males suffers most. Those who refute Clinton’s coded language conveniently overlook that whites created The Constitution and corresponding laws in their interest the same ways that the educational, media and every other system operates in upholding the interest of whites. Thus, this law was NOT put in place to censor white behavior, but to eliminate those of a darker hue. In implementing this law Clinton works to “make America great again” demonizing black men by maintaining the imposed criminality caricature established during slavery. Yet, despite Hillary Clinton’s direct involvement in robbing young black men of an equitable life experience, she maintains favor in the black community. Somehow Clinton’s appearance at countless churches adopting drawls incongruous to her regular diction, erases her cryptic behavior in Haiti where promised jobs fail to manifest despite generous donations. Hillary’s popularity reveals a collective amnesia reflective of the African forgiving spirit which far too often strives for white acceptance. This collective amnesia allows Clinton to “win over” blacks in implementing hollow gestures that imply that she as a white woman appreciates or admires black culture. Thus in consummating a journey to white acceptance, some blacks willingly overlook any information that suggests that Mrs. Clinton feels otherwise.
With regard to feeling, Clinton and Trump are portrayed dichotomously. However, the only difference between the two is their approach. Trump is overtly imprudent, small-minded and a white supremacist. Clinton upholds the same morals, but does so in a covert fashion. Commonly Clinton and Trump appeal to blacks seeking validation from whites and as a result become pawns in the white plight back to the White House. Clinton visited “The Breakfast Club” radio station in April 2016 to appeal to the young black and brown NYC voter. Host Angela Yee asks Clinton what’s in her bag, to which she responds “hot sauce.” The exchange seems straight out of a sitcom, possessing a seemingly scripted dynamic where political candidate Hillary Clinton appears to accidentally quote pop star Beyonce’s then latest ( and culturally poignant) single “Formation.” Yet, despite the attempt at concealment, the obviously scripted line revealed that Clinton was indeed getting into formation. This formation comment reflects the ability of political candidates to evoke textbook attributes of blackness to appease the need for white validation. Even if Hillary Clinton does have hot sauce in her bag and enjoys the black church and events she frequents during election season, does this negate all she’s done to disenfranchise blacks? Does it recover all the seemingly dissolved funds donated to Haiti? Does it free all the young black men deemed super-predators from racial profiling and jail sentences? No. Clinton feels the same way about blacks as Donald Trump feels about immigrants. However, despite his imprudence, Trump garners more valor in his honest and overt hypocrisy. By overt hypocrisy I am speaking to Trump’s argument against immigration. If you’ll recall, Trump initially requested President Obama’s birth certificate to prove what Trump felt was fraudulent citizenship. Overtly Trump seemed to refute immigration but his demand poorly veiled a racially motivated attack. The same racism fuels Trump’s attack on immigrants as everyone other than the indigenous and black American slave journeyed to America willingly. Thus, Trump’s Irish origins make him an immigrant and his wife’s Slovenic origins make her an immigrant as well. Considering these two facts, it becomes obvious that it is not immigration that Trump is against
but migrants of color.
Black as the chief color of oppression compose the backs in which Clinton, Trump and members of the white elite stand on to consummate the American Dream. The black experience endures nightmare-like experiences so that the American Dream epitomized in Clinton and Trump’s lifestyle is possible for those of a lighter persuasion. I write this piece not as a means to subversively suggest Sanders or any other candidate not directly referenced in this article is the superior candidate. I do hope to bring light to the reality that no candidate–past or present has made black issues central. Tus, whether trying to “make america great again” or striving for any kind of “greatness” any and all candidates generally strive for a “greatness” outside black interest. As a black women in America, it has not taken me long to realize that the law does not and cannot work to maintain black interest unless the laws much like the country itself is entirely reconfigured. The
suggestion that America was ever great and the idea that we must return to yesterday’s horror proves that any reconfiguring is far beyond the horizon.
The same horizon that once held the bodies of our ancestors amidst conditions far beyond our imaginations, encompasses our contemporary existence in their image. Just as the ships seized and carried Africans with purpose, black perception is obtained and sought with similar strategy. As Africans in America, we must learn to discern the coded language that can and will hurt us if misunderstood. In aligning a difference where it does not exist, blacks become seduced by approach. The difference between Trump and Clinton mirrors the dynamic of the white neighbor or coworker that won’t even look at you who instantly seems worse than his or her’s personable counterpart who will smile in your face and even attend your functions but laughs at any hint of equality and abruptly changes tune if you wish to move to their neighborhood or marry into their family. Approach doesn’t alter oppression, so it shouldn’t alter your vote.
Voting with a blossoming or elevated consciousness acknowledges those who died for our right to vote. However, an elevated mind knows that voting is an act of freedom but does not make us free.