By now, everyone is aware of the comments made by Geraldine Ferraro last week, but in case you missed them, here they are:
“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” she continued. “And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”
Since making those comments, Ferraro has added fuel to the fire by defiantly defending them. Until stepping down Wednesday, Ferraro, 72, had been a fundraiser for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Recall my earlier statement:
Anyone who thought this contest would not end up being about race and gender is neither black nor female
And, unfortunately, there are far too few black females amongst the media and the blogs.
To say I’m disappointed in Ferraro would be an understatement. But then again, I understand where she’s coming from. She is, after all, a white female. (Before I go any further, let me get my flame suit on.)
We all know that white women have been the largest group to benefit from affirmative action. They would like us black women to think it was women that made those strides but the real truth is that black women remain at the bottom of the totem poll. We are last to get anything, almost invisible.
When white women were making strides, they left us behind. Look around you. See more than the token black woman in a position of authority? Name me one black female political commentator other than Donna Brazile. How many white women are there? The whole “sisterhood” thing of the women’s movement never embraced women of color, at least not in any large way. White women, particularly ones who came of age during that time, truly believe that they are #2. And they believe that being female is a whole lot worse than being black. Read Ferraro’s statement and tell me she’s not saying that.
Which brings me to playing the victim. I think it’s funny that white folk say that black folk play the victim all the time. Have they ever looked at how often white women play the victim? I daresay it happens more for them than it does for us. I don’t deny that misogyny is a major problem. But white women, as they have moved up the ladder, have gotten real power. Unfortunately, it is not power shared with their sisters of color, only with each other.
As for this election, for the very first time, black women matter. Early on, black women supported Hillary Clinton, some of them, no doubt, because she was a woman. Slowly but surely, through boneheaded missteps of this campaign, she has lost this important voter group. I suspect in many minds it was a pretty easy transition to make. Because, you see, I think black women think of themselves as black first – and women second. It is hard for us to see the injustices of being female when we are whacked over the head daily for being black.
So I think I understand where Ferraro is coming from. But any person of color, me included, is going to see her remarks as over-the-top, in-your-face racism. And fighting sexism by injecting racism is a lose-lose proposition all the way around.
As for Hillary – I think she needs to take a long, hard look at the women (and men) in her campaign. I still support her, because I think that she’s the best person for the job. But she’ll not have the opportunity to do the job if she keeps people like Ferraro around her.
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