Hillary Clinton Addresses African American Voters

2 years ago

I am voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton for president.

There. I said it.

Assuming Clinton wins the Democratic Party nomination, I intend to cast my vote for her in the general election. Until now, I've felt rather reluctant to throw my support behind any of the candidates running, because I did not feel a genuine connection to their politics. In fact, I'm quite jaded with America's political process because I do not believe it fairly serves the majority of American citizens. However, I do believe in the power of my vote and as a Black woman, and as such part of the most powerful voting block in the country, I believe it is my duty to vote in each election for the candidate that most aligns with my personal values and beliefs.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is that candidate.

Hillary Clinton attends the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting at The Shertaon New York Hotel on September 25, 2013 in New York City.
Image: JStone via Shutterstock

Clinton recently gave a speech at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, N.Y. As a native New Yorker, I was honored to be invited to attend by political analyst, Zerlina Maxwell, one of the newest members of Clinton's digital outreach team. She focuses on African American and women coalitions and, as a member of the SheKnows Media family, I took her up on her invitation and attended the speech live.

Clinton appeared on stage with former Attorney General, Eric Holder, Governor Andrew Cuomo and his wife Sandra, NYC mayor, Bill deBlasio and his wife Chirlaine McCray, and was introduced by congressman Charles Rangel. Her strong speech touched on key issues affecting the African American community and it was clear by the audience response that her thoughtfulness resonated with them.

Some of her key remarks:

"This is not just an education issue, it is a civil rights issue." Clinton spoke about the school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects the African American community. Her plan includes investing more resources into getting ore guidance counselors and social workers into the schools "so instead of labeling them as problem children, they can help them".  There are approximately 500 students per guidance counselor in schools across America.

"I will ban the box in the federal government." Clinton spoke on employment struggles for ex-offenders who face discrimination when they have to indicate their past convictions on job applications. Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, recently made it the law to ban the box in his city, a monumental act that will help thousands of families lift themselves out of poverty. Read more about the "Ban The Box" campaign here.

"Let's end the epidemic of African Americans dying at the hands or in custody of law enforcement." Clinton spoke directly to the current movement to end police brutality and the disproportionate killing of African Americans by American police forces across the country.

"We're seeing an over-reliance on suspensions and expulsions." Clinton addressed the unreasonably high presence of law enforcement officers in schools across the country and spoke about how strongly affected she was seeing the horrific video of school officer, Ben Fields, throwing an African American female teen across a room while she was still in her chair. In my hometown, NYC, African American female students are 10 times more likely to be suspended than White female students, and are suspended and expelled at a higher rate than any male student demographic. The national figure is that they are 6 times more likely, and that is abhorrent. We must address the insidious racism and sexism affecting Black female students inside of America's classrooms.

"White Americans need to do a better job of listening to African Americans when they talk about seen and unseen experiences." Clinton acknowledged the problems that arise when African Americans speak about their painful experiences with racism and are dismissed by White people who feel personally offended or accused of being racist.

I thought this was one of Clinton's strongest speeches and the focus on key issues that have major impact on African American families and communities was important. There are candidates who refuse to even acknowledge racial disparities and it was refreshing to see Clinton zero in on those issues. She even went so far to admit that she has made mistakes in the past and doesn't want us to erase or forget them; she is calling for us to work together to make changes for the future.

As a Black mom raising a Black son in a tumultuous time in this country, as far as race relations go, I want to know that the candidate I'm voting for acknowledges our struggles and at least outlines a plan to improve the condition of many of our communities. While no candidate is perfect, and we owe it to ourselves to educate ourselves thoroughly about their past actions and current views, we can at least support someone whose politics most align with ours. For all intents and purposes, Hillary Clinton is the most viable candidate for me and I am finally comfortable saying that I will absolutely vote for her to be the next president of the United States.

Learn more about Hillary Clinton's plan to break every barrier in America here.

Feminista Jones is the Love & Sex editor for BlogHer.com. She is also mental health social worker in New York City.

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