Black America, Brown America, & the Clintons

For the life of me, I do not understand Hillary Clinton’s popularity with African-Americans and Latin@s. Her positions (which apparently change according to the dictates of focus groups) and her husband’s presidency was, when you examine the numbers, not very good for us. Let us put aside the bullshit concerns regarding “realism” and “electability” aside for just one moment and look at the hard facts:

Under the Clinton justice department, the black incarcerated population rose by more than 250,000. The Clinton years marked the greatest growth in black incarceration in U.S. History — discounting slavery. It was the war on the drugs, initiated by Nixon and put on steroids during the Reagan administration, which ignited the flame. Under the Clintons, it became a full-on raging forest fire. The devastating impact of that on black families today, and on the economic viability of the black community in 2016 cannot be overstated.

clintons-bill-hillaryAt a time when we needed a so-called progressive to stand up to the racist stereotypes fueling America’s insatiable hunger to jail black and brown people, the Clintons instead capitulated and used the backs of Blacks and Latin@s to advance their political careers. Remember the coming of the black “superpredator”? The Central Park Five? The looming “epidemic of crack babies” born of sexually promiscuous black and Latin@ women giving birth to litters of future cop killers? You might think I am exaggerating, but these were the tropes that were used to step up efforts to incarcerate a whole generation of Black and Latin@ youth. The Clintons, confronted with an opportunity to stand on progressive principles, instead threw our people under the bus.

The federal welfare reform bill, The Personal responsibility and work Opportunity act, worked out between Bill Clinton and conservatives in Congress in 1996, has also left major lingering damage. A number of experts agree it has left “a gaping hole in the safety net for poor folks.” While the number of people in poverty fell by 6.4 million under Clinton, welfare reform led to a big spike in extreme poverty. In fact, some research shows (here) that the effects can be measured in lives lost.

In 1995, about 70 percent of poor families with children got cash assistance. By 2010, fewer than 30 percent did. And with federal entitlements gone, eligibility requirements in many states were tightened significantly. Only 11 percent of poor blacks lived in states with the least stringent programs. 63 percent were in areas with the toughest eligibility requirements.

The irony here being that, truth being stranger than fiction, her husband’s policies might have the unintended effect of her candidacy as we in Black and Latin@ communities forget the roots of modern day racialized social control and stand with a woman who advocated for the policies that helped create our situation. Watch here as Hillary does a full=throated endorsement of her husband’s crime bill.

In addition, her flip flops on immigration and her advocacy for more “secure borders” (code for anti-Mexican prejudice) and her support for TPP might be problematic for her Latin@ supporters. Oh yeah, let us not forget that it was Bill Clinton who signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and crafted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for gays in the Military.

I could never, in all good conscience, vote for Hillary Clinton and feel good about it.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…