It was the last Wednesday in April when Stacy Abrams, in an interview with Don Lemon, defended Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden against rape allegations. Biden, of course, recently faced lukewarm censure for allegations of sexual assault from former aide Tara Reade. Abrams’ words
“I believe Joe Biden”
undercut her assertion that “women deserve to be heard.” Placing speculation as a bridge female accusers must cross to accrue validity, the referenced validity proves partially, if not wholly, undercut by a refutation present in Abrams’ eyes as she spoke. Abrams’ eyes wore the expression of black retail associates that veil theft accusations with an offer to start black shoppers a fitting room, their eyes admitting a wrongness their paid personhood must deny in action. Abrams does not believe Joe Biden any more than she believed the words that came out of her mouth. Her sycophancy, however, while not delineating belief, does underscore function.
What I mean here is the actions delineated by those who, like Abrams, align themselves with western gender norms, specifically, the term “woman,” betray whiteness as an unwavering national priority. Thus, the woman’s groups that appear to crumble in the face of Biden’s accusations are merely revealing their allegiance to a whiteness veiled by a seemingly all-encompassing label “woman.” The term woman, as employed in a Western climate, is not biologically based, but a label invented and applied to maintain whiteness through the non-male white. Thus, the women’s groups supporting Biden remain espoused to their default configuration.
Tarana Burke, the black woman who started #metoo before white female abduction, elucidates this prioritization in her claims that Biden could be both “accountable and electable,” a statement supported by appropriative activist Alyssa Milano.
“Instead, he could demonstrate what it looks like to be both accountable and electable.”–Tarana Burke
I want to solicit a moment of reflection to ask when, if ever, those elected have ever been held accountable to the black collective? Those elected remain accountable solely to white supremacy, a fact Abrams and Burke’s tokenized presence illuminate in the democratic party’s poor efforts to posit a shift in national interest.
What proves most significant in discussing this dynamic, is the role black women continue to play in maintaining whiteness as a national priority. One of my former professors profoundly stated that he believes black contribution to American democracy remains vastly under-discussed. With this in mind, the role black women play in maintaining whiteness through democracy remains a contentious praxis. My assertion does not function with ambitions to subscribe to western gender ideology but to note that black women keep culture and nurture nation in a fashion idiosyncratic to their indigenous cultural roles. Thus, weaponizing the black female presence functions as a conspicuous attempt to wound a people.
In this sense, Abrams in her behavior and her proclamation “I believe” engenders memories of Anita Hill’s role in challenging Clarence Thomas’ supreme court nomination.
History, as archived in the 2016 film Confirmation, remembers Hill as a hero—one who made sexual harassment in the workplace viable. If this were true, it would be lovely, but it’s not.
Hill functioned as a white proxy meant to expose the black man espoused to his traditional compartmentalization—sexually perverse and unfit. I depart from Thomas supporters that believe that these allegations functioned as a threat to Thomas’ position. The entertained accusations worked as a double blow to blacks in America in appointing the black elite to delineate black debasement. The hearing functioned to ensure that Thomas assumed his position with the public defacement necessary so that even though he held a high place, he would still be on his knees. For Anita Hill, her sycophancy, designates the black woman as the binary opposite to her Black male counterpart, a division that betrays a intra-racial divide that strengthens whiteness. Accurately, Hill represents the black woman as a stone cast against the black man at the expense of the black collective, a dynamic that epitomizes whiteness as a national priority.
Moreover, Abrams and Burke illuminate the Anita Hill effect, as props used to veil America’s intractable connection to whiteness. They function, as Hill did decades ago, to posit America as caring about black women and regarding the black female as a woman at all. This “care,” of course, could not be more false, as Hill, Abrams, and Burke illuminate ornamental status where their personhood is a non-factor as their sole function is to present the illusion of diversity. Additionally, Abrams and Burke, illuminating the Hill effect, depict black female sacrifice as integral to positing a democracy that does not exist.
Hill, as a black woman, functioned as an embodiment of democratic liberalism set to battle Thomas’ conservative allegiance. Hill’s treatment is, of course, no different from the general way the democratic party treats black people. The democratic party takes the black community for granted and appoints the occasional black person to symbolize an initiative only democratic in name.
It is the term “democrat” and the illusion of democracy that produces the millions of democratic votes cast without even the slightest consideration for what the party will do exclusively for the black community. These votes, and an underserving allegiance to democracy and this white settler country, say what Abrams did the other day. Specifically, “I believe Joe Biden” basically means “I Believe in the democratic party.”
I would be remiss to not align this silent proclamation with a statement Anita Hill made last year regarding her dealings with Joe Biden during the Clarence Hill hearings. Hill states that though not satisfied with what Biden’s treatment meant personally or for those who have and will experience sexual harassment, she does not believe that Biden is beyond reproach. In short, Hill too, “believes” in Joe Biden, or believes in a mythic democratic ability to incite change.
My words do not function to castigate past voting tendencies, but to state that it is not about whether anyone believes Biden, Anita Hill, Tara Reade, or anyone else.
For the black collective, it is about whether we, as a collective, believe that the needs of the black collective should be an American priority. It is about whether we believe that we deserve this prioritization, and whether we believe in our collective power to actualize this belief. The Anita Hill Effect, illuminated by Burke and Abrams, functions to ensure that the black gaze and discussion remain espoused to the idea that white people can or will solve and prioritiae issues specific to black people in America. This misplaced faith guarantees that the black collective remains a systemic and political oversight superficially mollified with the occasional token shined with the false promise of a democracy that our enslaved ancestors decry in memory.