Call Out Racism in Presidential Race… and not Sexism?
September 14, 2008
So, I 75%-heartedly support This open letter to white progressives and activists to take on racism in the Obama/McCain race, to call it out both from dems & republicans, the left and the right.
The other 25% of me is like, WTF? Reading this letter, you get the impression that sexism has had no impact on the race. The only context sexism is mentioned is in DV shelters, and only once, and only in the context of other work you do.
Because “Obama’s Baby Mama” isn’t sexism as well? Because the supposed PUMA’s are not only an astroturf ploy to hurt Obama through racism, but also the democratic party through sexism (in the “white women are whiny, racist, self-centered, and can’t get over sour grapes” sense)? Because the sexist bullshit about Clinton and now Palin isn’t alienating women/feminist voters who would otherwise be a lot more enthusiastic about the Obama campaign and the democratic party in general? Because it would be a “distraction”? Because oppression only matters when it’s convenient to our political agenda to address?
It’s not an either/or. And no, you don’t just get to say that to racist radfems and use it as an excuse for the same behavior. And while I think that focusing on racism is important, the extent to which [frequently white] anti-racist activists seek to divorce it, and in fact oppose it to sexism and use sexism to “fight racism” is extremely alienating, even when it’s done by women. For example, an article on Huffpo linked from above site:
The self-proclaimed ‘pit bull in lipstick’ will claw his eyes out while wearing black boots and clutching a whip …Barack probably won’t attack her, because he is not running against her and he is too much of a gentleman… But is it OK for Biden to be an angry Irishman and attack Catwoman?
Which elephant in the room no one’s talking about? (see quoted article) Totally unscientific research-by-googlesearch sez:
Presidential election racism : 1,210,000 hits
Presidential election sexism: 583,000 hits
Presidential election racism sexism: 139,000 hits
It should also be clear: most of the people on both sides think it’s either/or.
There are entries in the category cloud for: white men, white woman, black men
No entries for: black women [nor POC/MOC/WOC, nor people of races other than black/white] (also notice difference between white woman, singular (specifically Sarah Palin–check out what’s covered) and white/black men, plural)
Entries for: doublespeak dictionary, everyday, fox news, labor, organizing, NPR, policy, rhetoric, terrorism, vandalism
No entries for: abortion, sexism, misogyny, reproductive rights, glass ceiling…
“Bias” entries: “Does Race Matter in ‘08? The View from NPR,” “Sneak Preview: Race and Politics Series on NPR Tomorrow,” “A New Race(ism?) — Unconscious Bias in the ‘08 Campaign”
“Diversity” entries: (aforementioned “Does Race Matter?”)
“Stereotypes” entries: (“”), “DoubleSpeak Dictionary Entry #1: The Race Card”, “‘you cannot go to a 7-11 or a dunkin donuts unless you have a slight indian accent…'”
Focus on race. Rad. We need to. But you’re playing right into the “racism vs. sexism” bullshit, and not only is that not ok, but it weakens our movement.
Also: Palin as a distraction from Obama’s message/speech. That is to say, the misogyny stirred up by McCain’s selection of Palin (perhaps deliberately) killed off focus on and discussion of Obama’s speech.
Update #2: I have a hard time believing that this photo on the AWARE-LA website was selected entirely independently of misogyny.