In 2012, I was all about Texts from Hillary. It encapsulated so much about how I identify as a Millennial. The memes were pure magic mixed in with smart pettiness, top notch wit and an ability to capture the internet’s lightning in a bottle. I was there for all of it. It spoke to how my generation communicated and I was ready for the ’16 election.
When I left my job at a power-player communications firm in D.C. to move to the mid-west for grad school in 2014, I thought to myself that it couldn’t be better timing for my then-aspirations to work all the angles to land a job on the Hillary 2016 campaign to help get her to the White House.
But in 2014, the death of Michael Brown brought out some of America’s hidden demons. Like gutter slime crawling out of the bellows of the darkest shadows of our nation’s most sinister sewers; racism and negative race relations came to the forefront of a national discussion.
Now, I have always considered myself a socially conscious Brother, but in 2014- I became more keenly and acutely aware of my Blackness than I ever had before.
For my own survival, my identity shifted from a Millennial who is Black to a Black Millennial.
I started to speak out both publicly and privately. To me, the most salient political issues became the ones that would allow me- along with other marginalized, criminalized and stigmatized communities to live our full lives and access our full citizenship.
As the 2016 race began to heat up, I watched carefully and critically as the candidates distinguished themselves from each other.
No one on the Republican side stood out. With the exception of Rand Paul who said some semi-woke (emphasis on semi) stuff about criminal justice reform, it was clear the GOP was going to completely throw their 2012 autopsy report, which included the provision to actually listen to people of color, out the window and continue their death march to what is now the alt-right.
The GOP wasn’t about me and I most certainly was not about them. Any of them.
On the Democratic ticket, Martin O’Malley completely lost me when he used America’s favorite silencer of Black voices- “All Lives Matter” on stage. Even though he later apologized, I already hit him with the deuces and so it was between Hillary and Bernie.
Bernie Sanders, said the stuff that raised my eye brows and had me nodding my head a bit, all the while story after story broke about the Hillary that had me more and more disappointed.
Her staff that may or may not have shown up to the Movement for Black Lives summit in Cleveland, the ghost of the ’94 Crime Bill, the “super predator” comment, the silencing of protestors at a fundraiser, among other fumbles not the least of which included her number one surrogate and husband, Bill Clinton trying to tell some protesters how they should live their lives.
Nope. I wasn’t having any of it.
I voted for Bernie in the primary.
But as I saw the Grand Old Party light a big orange dumpster on fire and present it to the nation as something that is somehow qualified to be president- I knew that this wasn’t the time to play around.
As the GOP nominee continues to lie to the country, promise to break the constitution to put people of color back in chains by resurrecting failed and outlawed policies and degrade any and everyone who isn’t a white male, it is time I re-examine where I take my vote in just a few weeks.
Like anyone, Hillary Clinton isn’t perfect. She isn’t my dream candidate by any stretch, but through it all, she has demonstrated an ability to learn from her mistakes. Some would call it pandering to our community and some would say that this is the time to protest by not voting but what we can’t overlook is that Secretary Clinton has left several avenues for us to hold her accountable.
Secretary Clinton has made (and it’s on her website, so we have the receipts) issues that pertain to Black people central to her platform. Her positions on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, ending private prisons, banning the box, and making college affordable are all pretty much in line with the Movement for Black Lives Policy Platform which launched in August. Is it perfect? No. Does it have everything the Movement has put forth? Far from it. But it demonstrates that unlike the goon on the other side, she is willing to listen. Further- it leaves the door open so we can toast the small victories as we continue to build and organize toward our visionary future.
Even more recently, Hillary Clinton paid homage to victims of gun violence and police brutality in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her opponent doesn’t have the class, dignity, or empathy to do the same. He doesn’t have the courage to face the storm of racism his supporters will inevitably bring if he stood up for Black lives and this cycle, if we choose to abstain from voting or toss our vote to a third-party candidate that is precisely what will make it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I just checked my watch, and I don’t have time for that.
A direct product of the policies she has advocated for are the people that Hillary Clinton surrounds herself with. We too often see presidential politics be about one person and this race couldn’t be further from that fallacy. Secretary Clinton has created a circle of good people who truly understand the issues the Black community faces at all levels. And although she hasn’t always demonstrated a complete understanding of the issues herself, the people around her will get her up to speed because they know the issues and more importantly, they are connected to the people that live through them every day.
With Hillary Clinton, our community of Black Millennials will have several seats at the table. And although several seats is nowhere near what we want or need, it is a step forward with the alternative being completely locked out of the process, again.
We can’t stand to have walls and chains separating us from who we are destined to become.
And although she isn’t perfect, none of us are.
In 2016, she is the right choice for our community.
When it comes to the election this November…
I’m with her.