By Kelly Hayes
Aug 3, 2016
As an Indigenous woman who organizes in the hopes that both Black and Brown people might know greater freedom, safety and self determination, I am no fan of electoral politics.
I’m a street level organizer and a direct action trainer. I see voting as an act of harm reduction, and even within that spectrum, I am very selective about how and when I engage with it.
That said, I will not be hassling anyone on the left about their choices with regard to the upcoming presidential election. It’s not my area of organizing and I understand that there are hard questions in play. Do I want a Trump presidency? Of course not. Do I loathe Hillary Clinton? More than words can say. Do I understand why people would vote for her to keep Trump out of office? Absolutely.
I likewise understand why a great many people will find themselves unable to co-sign her presidency, regardless of how frightening they may find Donald Trump. While many call such abstention an act of privilege, most of the people I know who have stated that they simply cannot cast their lot with Hillary, no matter what, are people living in the margins who are simply unwilling to feel complicit in their own destruction, and the destruction of other marginalized people.
But I really do understand all sides of the to-vote-for-her-or-not debate. I truly do.
What I couldn’t stomach was waking up the morning after Hillary’s coronation at the Democratic National Convention to a wave of posts about how, despite her flaws, Hillary’s ascension was a victory for women everywhere. When I would correct the people who had composed such comments, reminding them that a victory for rich white women is not a victory for all women, I was told several times to think of all the little girls who may now believe that they too could be president one day.
Well, I have taken a moment to think about them, and I’d like to share what I might actually say to those little girls, if they were listening.
To all the little (white) girls who may now believe that they too could grow up to drone Brown people one day:
May you find better role models and aspirations.
Your country is anti-Black, anti-Indigenous and wages endless wars. A rich, cut throat woman who has committed countless crimes against marginalized people should not be the stuff your dreams are made of. You can be whatever you want to be, but my advice is to be kind and humane in your dealings with others, and to do all that you can to amplify the voices of those ground under by white supremacy — rather than trying to claw your way to the top of some electoral mountain.
You are probably too young right now to understand the harm Hillary Clinton has done to so many, both as a supporter of her husband’s policies when he was president, and as Secretary of State. You may even be shielded from these discussions, because many white liberal families make the mistake of believing that you shouldn’t understand racism at a young age, the way Black and Brown children are forced to.
But one thing you may soon understand is that when your textbook tells you about important milestones for women in the United States, they mean “white women.” You will one day read, for example, that “women” in the United States won the right to vote on August 18, 1920. Your grade school history books will lift up the names of white suffragettes who toiled to make that victory possible. But what they probably won’t mention is that those same suffragettes often invoked racist language to further their arguments, because the gains of white women in the US have often been made at the expense of Black and Brown people, just as Hillary’s gains are today.
As little girls, I hope you are being taught to dream big and beyond anything you’ve been told is possible. I hope you learn to ignore men who order you to smile and write off commercials that tell you to buy some lotion, hairspray or bra to “fix” everything about yourself. I hope you grow up strong, ready to defend yourself against the violence of rape culture and patriarchy. And I hope you grow up understanding that your worth is not altered by the pending coronation of a woman who will bring misery and death to so many who don’t look like you. Your potential is your own. You can do great things. And I hope that you will. Because we need you, and a better world needs you.
What the world doesn’t need is another Hillary Clinton.
And if you’re looking for heroes, there’s no shortage out there. One of them was named Berta Cáceres. You should look her up one day, and never forget the role that Hillary Clinton played in taking her from this world.