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Hillary Clinton’s most recent campaign is focused on systemic racism and a broken criminal justice system. According to the ad, Clinton is seeking to end the school-to-prison pipeline which occurs frequently among African-American communities. While some have hailed it a brilliant campaign strategy in hopes of courting minority voters, others believe it is nothing more than that. As she struggles to gain support from young voters, she is reaching out to the black community to remind them of her constant support. In efforts of maintaining stride with opponent Bernie Sanders many now are asking, “Is Hillary Clinton running with the race card?”
In a time where the country’s problem with racism is at an all-time high, Clinton promises to rectify many of the wrongs that have prevailed. In the ad, she denounced a justice system which she called “fundamentally broken.” The current design of what carries the label justice is anything but. The Democratic hopeful referenced the way African-Americans are unfairly treated when doing many of the same things Caucasians do. She said the black community is more likely to be arrested and sentenced to longer prison terms when the crime is no different from those committed by whites.
Clinton was the first candidate to head to Flint, Michigan to speak to the community crippled by a chronic water crisis. Outreach to the African-American population and criminal justice reform have been central to her campaign. She has met with black leaders and been a frequent visitor of black congregations. To discuss “breaking down barriers” relative to African-Americans, the former Secretary of State recently met with several prominent civil rights leaders to discuss a wide range of public policy issues, including Rev. Al Sharpton and Benjamin Crump.
Sanders has made an impact on Clinton’s once broad support base, but as she moves on to states with a more diverse population the candidate is banking on minority communities to show their support as in times past. African-American voters are central to the Democratic presidential nomination. Although the Clintons have always had a special appeal to the black community, is Hillary running solely with the race card?
When speaking about race, voters get a revealing view of how Clinton apprehends the notion of change, power and politics. When expressing her passion about the disproportionate state of the country as it relates to economic opportunity, housing, education and the criminal justice system, she stresses the existence of systemic racism. This is a fundamental truth that African-Americans understand far too well and at times is met with great resistance from the Caucasian population.
Systemic racism is a problem which is historically grounded in politics and ignorance. Clinton’s acknowledgement of this massive problem confirms that it is an issue leaders of this country can do something about. If racism is a crisis that imposes itself on people’s lives systematically, then the way to attack it is to change the way those systems operate, through policy and law. This indicates that the fix lies with leadership, but the responsibilities are heavily weighted on voters getting to the polls and electing those who have like beliefs in this area and courage to invoke change.
It is not hard to believe that a politician cares about racism, but it is doubtful that this is her primary concern. It may, however, be the strategy necessary to gain traction in this upcoming nomination, but the will she deliver? It is no secret that criminal justice reform and outreach to the African-American community are central to her candidacy, but the question remains, “Is Hillary Clinton running with the race card?”
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
MSNBC: Hillary Clinton calls for ‘facing up to the reality of systemic racism’
Washington Post: Here’s what you need to understand about how Hillary Clinton views race
NY Times: Hillary Clinton, Seeking Black Vote, Cites ‘Systemic Racism’
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