Some pundits are saying Killer Mike should not have used a quote about gender, drawing parallels to the 2008 campaign of Barack Obama and the use of his ethnicity, by others, in order to advance or push back on his candidacy. Using race, gender and class to divide the electorate is ugly. It was done in 2008 and, as the Clinton campaign gets desperate again, it is being done now and defended under false assumptions and with false equivalencies.
Hillary Clinton has been running her 2016 campaign as a woman candidate and as the first woman president. She has said it on plenty of occasions. Here are two:
But even if Clinton hadn’t been using gender as a part of her platform as a candidate, the expectation of a first woman candidate had been building up as of the prelude to Election 2008 and in the run-up to Primary 2016. Even without Clinton’s full embrace of gender politics, the media-generated public expectation for almost a decade now makes Killer Mike quoting what another woman said perfectly appropriate and not sexist in the least. If Killer Mike’s uttering of those words gives him ownership, it remains appropriate:
There are those who claim that this is reminiscent of the arguments that were lobbed against then Senator Obama that he was using his ethnicity to his advantage. But Barack Obama never presented his candidacy as that of the first Black man to run for president. Hillary Clinton bills herself as running “as someone who is qualified to be president and the first woman” to do so. Clinton’s frequent references to gender, whenever answering unrelated questions, both open the door to criticism of her use of gender and statements like Mike made, through a feminist, pointing out that one’s gender doesn’t, in and of itself, qualify anyone for the job of president.
“I think the reaction is because a man said what I said. If a woman had made that statement there would have been no problem, but because a man said it, it becomes a sexist statement. It’s a ridiculous thing to be upset about,” Elliott told The Huffington Post. “It should be a fact of life that neither gender nor skin color should determine whether you are appropriate for leadership of the government of the United States of America.”
What Elliott points out is true enough, but there is more. Killer Mike is an easy target for cynical accusers. After all, don’t we all know that rappers have a terrible reputation for misogyny? Don’t we also all know that Black social justice activists in the past had a terrible problem with including women at the top echelons of the civil rights movement? These arguments might have been valid had we been living in the late 60’s or 70’s. But Killer Mike is very much a part of today’s new civil rights movement and Black Lives Matter, a movement founded by Black women, whose platform is inclusive of queer, lesbian, gay and trans Brown and Black people; something that Mike included in his fiery speech.
To gain a deeper understanding, watch Nina Turner’s six minute speech. She talks about being a woman and making choices. She also talks about why she made her choice, switching her support from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders. Be warned! Nina Turner, as a public speaker, is a force of nature!
Right on the heels of two major faux-pas by Clinton surrogates, it is mighty fishy that, all of a sudden, a Sanders surrogate is accused of the very thing two feminists did. Both Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright got caught up in sexist firestorms. I wrote about both just a few days ago. Bill Clinton was recorded while making comments in defense of his legacy as the “first Black president” just last week. This is just another tempest in a teapot.
Killer Mike was intentionally taken out of context by a campaign that has been eagerly stirring up old divisions between the genders, races and classes. A campaign that has been pitting one group against the next using surrogates and pandering directly to different groups using racial and cultural triggers. It takes a lot of cynicism to be a Clinton and do what she and her campaign have been doing, with the full tacit support of a press corps that has been purposely remiss in reporting on certain bits of news, reporting less than was there, or out and out promoting one candidate over the other.
Much of this Killer Mike brouhaha was stirred up by former MSNBC host Karen Finney, who is working for Hillary Clinton. She was a part of Clinton’s first presidential campaign.
— Karen Finney (@finneyk) February 17, 2016
This campaign is no less dirty than 2008 was, with almost the same timing for attacks. Keep your seat-belts fastened. We’re only halfway through the primary process. Clinton feminists seem to need to take bell hooks’ words to heart:
“As all advocates of feminist politics know, most people do not understand sexism or if they do, they think it is not a problem. Masses of people think that feminism is always and only about women seeking to be equal to men. And a huge majority of these folks think feminism is anti-male. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media.”
If you’re not familiar with Killer Mike, you should really get familiar with him and his sometimes strongly worded but always powerful message. You can start with this:
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