The Democratic and Republication presidential nominating conventions have concluded and the billowy haze of disillusionment still lingers in the hearts and heads of Americans.
In light of this being a Back-To-School special edition and the ongoing need for good news, I thought I might reveal the silver lining that may have gotten lost in the media shuffle. Hillary Clinton became the first woman to earn a Democratic Party (major party) presidential nomination. This is a fact that lives outside of any ideological commitment or party loyalty. You may have missed it considering a number of publications ran the headline but failed to provide a picture of Hillary. Oddly enough, her husband’s photo was plastered across the front pages announcing HER nomination. Needless to say, this historical moment has had its challenges and her nomination has been met with harsh criticisms that have little to do with her qualifications. We can go ahead and chalk some of that up to patriarchy. It is a fact that women remain underrepresented in government and a subhead of that fact is that women of color are even scarcer. All of this lives under the umbrella of the fact that sexism still exists. So I guess on the hierarchy of plights, sexism falls somewhere behind racism and classicism and that is why the critique of Hillary continues to fester.
Hillary Clinton never claimed to be the first woman to run for president, and there are plenty of women who have also secured nominations for their respective parties. In this moment and in this day, the parties that hold the most political influence in the U.S. remain the Republican and Democratic parties. So, within that framework, this achievement is uniquely Hillary Clinton’s. She has a record of public service and a tangible history of government experience after serving as the senator of New York, and the Secretary of State under the presidency of President Barack Obama…etcetera, etcetera. Did seeing Hillary accept the nomination evoke the same feelings I had in 2008 and 2012 watching President Barack Obama? Not necessarily. Though they are two completely different conversations, they both had to navigate scrutiny over legitimacy because of pretty much all of the “–ism’s” (racism, sexism, etc.) running rampant in the nation. President Barack Obama said it himself, “I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.”
Does that mean it will happen? No. Does that mean she isn’t accountable for her missteps politically? No. Does that mean that she is guaranteed the Presidency and doesn’t have to earn the trust and votes of the American people? No. We all have different needs and plights that influence us politically. Black women in particular have a tendency to get pushed out of the conversations of racism and sexism and that has led to an unenthusiastic acknowledgement of this historical moment. I should also mention that there is a group of Black women who, in spite of the odds against them, ran for the office of the presidency. That group includes Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan (who received a delegate vote), Lenora Fulani, Carol Mosely-Braun, Isabell Masters, Monica Gail Moorehead, Cynthia McKinney, Angel Joy Chavis Rocker, Charlene Mitchell, Margaret Wright, and Peta Lindsay (who was too young to run but ran anyway). All of those women chipped away at the glass ceiling and that matters, just as this nomination matters if you think about what it represents. Hillary’s nomination means that we as a nation are one step closer to having the position of ‘Leader of the Free World’ be an equal opportunity position. The moral of the story is we all face “ism’s” and plights specific to our lot in life, however, if you want to run for President of the United States, and all of the odds are against you, run anyway.