Hillary Clinton vows to end institutional racism, but appears to lack the moral authority to accomplish it.
You’ll get no argument from me that the former Secretary of State is uniquely qualified to serve the country as President of the United States. Whether she’ll exceed expectations or fail to meet them as the nation’s chief executive remains to be seen. But can Mrs. Hillary Clinton, based on her skill set and lived experience, fulfill the responsibilities that accompany the position of President? I would say yes, indeed, she can. Now, whether she can uphold the oath of office with fidelity is a matter that I’m not as bullish on, for a reason that boils down to her moral authority, or lack thereof.
Simply put, Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has a problem being perceived as honest and trustworthy, which, to a degree, disqualifies her from exerting moral authority in society to solve a problem like institutional racism, which is a promise of hers made on the campaign trail. Institutional racism, moreover, hate and contempt for a human being not like one’s self, can’t be solved by appealing to other politicos to enact meaningful legislation, but rather by appealing to the hardened hearts of those for whom racism is a culture, a way of life that desires no interruption or augmentation. Appealing to one’s heart with a desire to change behavior requires the individual advocating newness to be of good character, judgment, and nature. Or, at least, to be perceived as such.
Mrs. Clinton, whose national lead over Mr. Bernie Sanders has, as of late, narrowed to single digits, is devoid of the luxury of trust. According to The Washington Post, “just 37 percent of people believe Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy while 57 percent say they don’t think she is.” As the article in The Washington Post notes, though the “desultory scores” aren’t “impacting her broader appeal to the electorate in any meaningful way,” it could be characterized as “terrible news” in the long run.
The long run, as I see it, would be when Mrs. Clinton attempts to mount a defense against institutional racism, an issue that doesn’t appear to have been a long-held interest of the former First Lady who staunchly supported her husband’s 1994 crime bill, which was the catalyst for mass incarceration. No matter, though, the length of her anti-black racism allegiance, what is of the utmost importance is whether Mrs. Clinton, unable to accomplish her radical feat solely through legislation, can change the hearts and minds of white supremacists and those who recklessly indulge in white privilege through moral authority. And if she can’t, what can she offer black voters as a replacement? And in the bigger frame, should black voters seek someone else?
Though the term institutional racism is somewhat subjective, the byproducts of it, as documented in the aggregate by U.S. News and World Report, are rather concrete in their existence and impact: black children make up 18 percent of the pre-school population, but represent almost half of all out-of-school suspensions; black children are 18 times more likely to be sentenced as adults than white children; black college graduates are twice as likely as whites to struggle to find jobs; a black male is three times more likely to be searched at a traffic stop.
None of the aforementioned maladies can be mitigated through policy alone, a lesson Philadelphia is currently learning. Last year, Philadelphia became the first big city to decriminalize marijuana, thanks in large part to the activist-like legislating of then City Councilman, Mr. Jim Kenney, who in January of this year was elected to be the City’s 99th Mayor. Mr. Kenney, a week or so after announcing his Mayoral campaign, sat down with Techbook Online for an exclusive interview to discuss race and policing. He told me that the reason he pushed for the decriminalization of marijuana was not because he’s pro-pot, but because of the racial disparities in which blacks and whites were being stopped and search by police for drugs.
The intention behind the 2014 policy was well, but its impact is questionable. As Mr. Chris Goldstein noted today in the Philadelphia Daily News, “black residents are still almost five times more likely to end up in custody for small amounts of weed,” though the bill did lead to an “overall decrease in marijuana arrest in 2015; down 84 percent for adults and down 74 percent for juveniles from 2013 levels.” The situation isn’t perfect and clearly police training could be pointed to as a factor, but the real issue lies in how police see blackness and their definition of criminality and suspicion. Moreover, police, in addition to better training, need to be re-socialized. I believe Mr. Kenney, who weeks ago had a private meeting that I co-organized where several #BlackLivesMatter activist attended and spoke well of the new Mayor, has the moral authority to lead on this local issue.
On similar issues that play out nationwide, Mrs. Clinton doesn’t appear that she can leverage moral authority to bring forth resolve, even though she may be the most qualified for the job as President. To be fair, the job of the President has never been to eradicate institutional racism, though those who’ve held that position over the years have exacerbated it.
CLICK HERE to listen to ‘Why the Black Vote Matters,’ a podcast from The Dr. Vibe Show featuring a panel of black male thought-leaders, including the co-founder of the ‘Vote or Die’ movement.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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