Day 88 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
Because black lives do matter.
UPDATE — I need to amend this. It hasn’t been sitting right with me ever since I posted it. It feels patronizing and doesn’t say what I really want it to say. What I wanted to say was that Hillary got BLM wrong first, going with the neutralizing “All Lives Matter,” which entirely misses the point. But, after being protested by BLM activists, she did what she does and met with BLM activists. Some of the conversations were very uncomfortable and unsatisfying for both sides.
However, she listened. She processed. (Which is what she does.) And she met again. And talked some more. In light of the oh-too-many misperceptions of what BLM is really about and why — yes — Black Lives Do Matter (no qualification required or wanted), and the conflation with Blue Lives Matter, it is challenging for a politician to align him or herself with the movement. Too few people actually get the point, which means, as a talking point, it’s not an easy alignment. Once she understood it, Hillary not only attached herself to the movement, she made a point of bringing some of its issues to light. She massaged some of her policies to address the issues presented to her. And she tried to find a balance so she could say, “Of course I don’t want cop killings, but I’m also tired of us killing our black citizens and we need to remedy the things that make it a too common occurrence.” [The quotations are mine; I’m paraphrasing her position.] ok, carry on.
And Hillary knows it. She is also walking the oh-so-delicate balance between Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter – which is where most of us live. One of the pictures that spoke to me loudest last summer was that of a young black woman protesting in NY with a sign that read, “Last week I protested killing blacks. Today I protest killing cops.” How about we just stop slaughtering people?
But Hillary’s a funny person. In an exchange that may explain why we respect her, but struggle sometimes to like her, in this emotionally charged arena, she landed on the side of practical reason rather than cultural change.
“I don’t believe you change hearts,” Clinton told Julius Jones (a BLM activist) in a candid moment backstage after a campaign event. “I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts, and change some systems, and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them.”
I’ve already covered many of her plans to train police, highlight police departments who get it right, change sentencing laws and attempt to address systemic racism, so I’m not going to revisit those issues. I’m shining light on her invitation to mothers of black children killed by police and caught in the crossfire of inner-city violence to the Democratic convention.
And I’m introducing her “Breaking Every Barrier Agenda,” to create good-paying jobs, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, and connect housing to opportunity in communities that are being left out and left behind. DeRay McKesson (BLM activist), in his endorsement of Hillary, specifically cited it as an important piece of her platform and his endorsement. Some of its initiatives are:
• Create jobs through programs targeted at inner-city youth and formerly incarcerated people.
• Earmarking money dedicated to rebuilding infrastructure to neglected communities, e.g., Flint.
• Create a matching fund for mortgage down payments for people who earn less than local median incomes.
• “Ban the box.” Prohibit companies from asking about criminal history until after interviews, so those with a record have a chance.
And I don’t mean to suggest that black lives and inner cities are analogous, but — more often than not — the black lives that have been cut way too short have also been economically disadvantaged. Confronting the violence along with the voices that are not amplified by money can change hearts.
So, although these are largely economic efforts, in concert with working with law enforcement and the judicial system to eradicate racism, it’s what’s needed to change, and what she can do to improve the reality facing too many people of color in the US. Hillary does not have Barack’s ability to move people rhetorically. She’s a policy wonk and is playing to her strengths in approaching the issues on policy rather than heart.