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25 de Mayo, 2008

Hillary Clinton's "Assassination" Remark & Why It Matters To Me

Categorized under Guest Blogando , Kevin , Política Estados Unidos , Race for '08 | Tags: , ,

[Kevin Andre Elliott, sometimes known as the Thin Black Duke, is a guest blogger at The Unapologetic Mexican, and can be found blogging away on weekdays at A Slant Truth.]

[Update: I've added several more blogger of color reactions below. I post these reactions to show the breadth of thought on the matter from bloggers of color. I don't necessarily agree with everything that is said.

Oh Wait! You mean not all black people and other people of color think alike? That one black blogger doesn't speak for ALL BLACK PEOPLE EVERYWHERE THAT HAVE EVER LIVED, ARE LIVING, AND WILL LIVE?.

Yeah, I know. It's a crazy concept, but it's true.]

I traverse a wide range of blogs, and there's something that I've noticed concerning discussions of Sen. Hillary Clinton and her recent "assassination" remark. At the primarily white blogs, there is much debate over whether or not what she has said is offensive (I won't bother repeating it here since it's been posted everywhere) and yet when you look at black bloggers, and other bloggers of color, there is an almost unanimous agreement that her remarks were reprehensible. I also noticed that in the links being provided by blog authors and commentators at the primarily white blogs, to support their agreement or disagreement with the offensiveness of Sen. Clinton's statements, all are to other primarily white blogs and white bloggers. I find this problematic because I've seen a lot of comments on these blogs to the effect of "anyone who thinks that her statement was truly offensive is paranoid, a nut case, delusional, incapable of rational thought, etc," and this leads me to think that a lot of people just aren't taking into consideration, let alone even reading and listening to the black and other bloggers of color that Clinton's statement has affected not only on a political level, but on a deeply personal level.

Let me tell you a story.

As a child, I once came home, after hearing the standard "if you work hard enough, maybe one day you can be President" spiel at school, and quite happily informed my grandmother that all I had to do was work my butt off and maybe one day I could be President of the United States. My grandmoms, not one to harbor any illusions, informed me (this is obviously a paraphrase) that "no black person can become President of the United States. A black person would be killed before white folks would allow that to happen." True story. Now, as a black woman that grew up in the Jim Crow South, her reasoning was not out of the question. I don't believe that that's true today, but from her vantage point, from her life experience, she had every right to believe what she was telling me, and that to tell me this was good advice. This is the context within which I hear Sen. Clinton's statement. The context of my elders, the generations that came before me. And so while I no longer believe what my grandmoms told me oh so many years ago, I am still influenced and I still reverberate with her experiences and what she tried to teach me based on those experiences.

I was not alive when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Yet, when I hear the words "1968" and "assassination" in the same sentence, I cannot help but to think of Martin Luther King, Jr. I cannot help but to think of the racial unrest of the period. I cannot help but to think of the struggles that my people have had to undergo in order for a black person to be seriously considered for the Presidency of the United States of America. I cannot help but to think of the numerous civil Rights leaders slain.

This is my history.

And let it be known that this is not solely the history of black folks. People of Color across the board share this history in the United States. We may be invited to the dinner table now and again, but don't even think we will get anything until the establishment has had their fill.

I don't think that Sen. Clinton's statements can be divorced from several events that occurred in 1968:

The assassination of Robert Kennedy.

The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The riots at the Democratic National Convention.

Maybe it's just me, but when I learned of her remarks (which she has made before, but I was unaware of), that's what came to mind. It was offensive to the Kennedy family, especially given Ted Kennedy's illness (Sen. Clinton did apologize for that, however). It unnecessarily brought up the specter of black folks getting killed for being black and standing up for their humanity; and it also, for me at least, brought up the 1968 Democratic Convention riots, given all the talk these days about a "civil war" at the Convention, talk that I'm sure she is aware of.

I can't say whether or not she intended for me to hear her statements the way I do, but as y'all should know, I'm not one to care much for intention, and that's how I hear it. I will continue to speak out against sexist attacks against Sen. Clinton, but I will do so because I believe that sexist, racist, classist, disablist, homophobic, et. al. attacks should be condemned under any circumstances; but just as I will speak out against racist attacks against Condoleeza Rice and still never support her politics or career, I will speak out against sexist attacks against Sen. Clinton and still never support her or her career because she is using racist tactics to win an election.

Other Folks of Color on the matter (I'm sure there's much, much more, so if anyone can point me to other Folks of color's opinion on this matter, I'd appreciate it and will update the post accordingly):

Electronic Village

Jack and Jill Politics

The Unapologetic Mexican

Pam Spaulding at Pam's House Blend and Pandagon

My Private Casbah

African American Political Pundit

All About Race

Ultraviolet Underground

Sylvia at Problem Chylde

Liza at CultureKitchen

Lower Manhattanite at Group News Blog here and here


Francis L. Holland. And again here.



Zuky. Also at The Unapologetic Mexican.

[cross-posted at Slant Truth]

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Comentarios (11)

Dan (Fitness) dijo:


For my part, I was willing to give Hillary the benefit of the doubt, in that she was placing herself in RFK's position, and merely made an incredibly stupid remark.

On the whole I find her candidacy repugnant, and her statement is problematic in that it comes in the context of that campaign. Enough slip ups along the very same line naturally invite suspicion, and her remarks about West Virginia definitely suggest a worrying strategy on her part.

Back at my college, a number of students in student government were caught partying around crude kkk drawings on a wall. Now by itself it would be one thing, but taken as a whole with regard to their own backgrounds and actions, and the actions of the school's administration (which they often sided with), it was part of a larger narrative of racism. That's how OAA (Office of ALANA (African Latino Asian Native American) Affairs) and its allies discussed the problem.

For me the overriding concern has been Hillary's sense of entitlement and lack of regard for any sense of unity. It smacks of the same ruling class mentality McCain keeps tucked away, and Bush, Lieberman and other Republicans wear on their sleeves. But the underlying narrative of racism that Hillary is tapping into, consciously or not, is one that presents some daunting problems for us. Whether or not she meant to, she's further brought that kind of discourse into the mainstream. Historical references aside, claiming one should stay in the race in case someone decides to end the primary with a gun is a psychotic way of yielding power to that very same asshole. Someone as skilled as Hillary Clinton should not have missed that.

peasant dijo:


Convincing me that HRC could "have missed that" would be difficult. With a cadre of strategists, writers, pollsters, and professional political consultants checking, analyzing and breaking down every nuance of word and delivery (before and after every speech) I would suspect that the discussion went more along the lines of "Hey! We got away with it! We can continue using that line!" after it was first used.
In the earlier days of the campaign perhaps the audience was more apt to give her the benefit of the doubt but as the tenor of the race changed another side of her personality began to emerge and her motives came to be questioned more.

To her credit, she did not turn to the camera and wink, and that is part of the debate. From the darkness of her soul, perhaps even unknown by her, did she want to!?

nezua Author Profile Page dijo:


thank you kevin. that is exactly the divide i was talking about, and how she banks those shots in there where she knows certain groups will have much invested in denying that awareness, while others have NO doubt.

she is (quite grossly) exploiting the very chasms of experience that obama speaks of bridging.

kyledeb dijo:


You don't mention the fact that Obama was the first nominee to get Secret Service detail. Assassination isn't a joke or something you refer to flippantly, it's a real threat for Obama.

herm dijo:


my mother works for a hospital in our town. when barack obama came to speak, his secret service were at the hospital hours before he ever arrived, ensuring there was enough of his blood type in stock and adequate resource, should he get shot.

no one did the same when hillary clinton came through town.

symsess dijo:


Though far more direct than Hillary's comment I found this post on Daily Kos showing Liz Trotta joking that she's like to see Obama assassinated. Truly sick. http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/5/25/15389/8576/115/522617

XP dijo:


Now that is interesting, herm. Given the way this government works, you do have to wonder what all this means. Since every ex-President is allowed to get threat reports, it does make you wonder if the Clintons know something, which would explain the remark.

Let's face it, the news will never tell us if there were previous attempts and they most likely will never know. It will always be told years later.

nezua Author Profile Page dijo:


You are right, symsess. I saw that too. It's loathsome that people think this is acceptable. Even FOX people. I'm telling you. It makes me want to choke someone. Gross, vile, ugly souls. But I didn't want to blog on it anymore. In fact I didnt even mean to keep blogging so much about Clinton's original remark (mostly because of this), but my anger grew again when I read so many sites or blogs trying to water down or excuse her very purposeful remarks.

Jennifer dijo:


I still don't get why she said it. It was just so out of the place, so... incorrect...
It was just wrong to bring that up, she knows that people of color will always think of 1968 as a year of assassination, and not just RFK's assassination.

(Well, I guess, it does offend me so much because I'm black. Ha.)

Kevin Andre Elliott Author Profile Page dijo:


Thanks, everyone, for the kind words and insights.

sweetleaf dijo:


really scary. outrageous. completely unacceptable "comment" by clinton. not to make light of this, but has anyone seen/heard bill hicks view on jfk's assassination? he spoke about how - the new president elect was taken into a room to be briefed, and then was shown the 3 min film of kennedy getting shot. the film stopped, the lights turned on, he was then asked, "any questions?".