by Africa Jackson
After Shonda Rhimes and the #TGIT broke my heart with a Hillary Clinton endorsement I had to take a break from social media. Viola Davis had been my #WCW for the last year, so I felt a little salty. Though the betrayal was mostly in my head, it still felt real. We all have to play politics in any job –I get that. I rationalized it, telling myself that there was some overlooked clause in their contracts that mandated such an act.
Eventually I let it go.
Fast forward to April 2016. After being told by my white male hetero supervisor (again) that my big, wild hair and edgy attire were not professional, I was eager to get home. L.A. traffic was as dense and soul crushing as usual. By the time I walked in the door of my messy apartment and melted into my couch full of half read manuscripts, the Black Girls Rock Award Show was in progress. I turned on my fat back TV and saw my best friend (Rihanna), among a big, beautiful, diverse group of Black women who look like me. That happiness was interrupted as I realized that the crowd was already in the midst of a roaring applause.
Inside I lightweight panicked. What did I just miss? Was there an exclusive Anita Baker/Lauryn Hill duo? Had S. Epatha Merkerson just delivered a life changing performance of Audre Lorde’s work? Please don’t tell me I missed our beloved First Lady Michelle Obama shaving her head to join #TeamNatural on live television. Just as I was about to post a Dis Tew Much meme on Twitter, I saw why they were clapping.
Hillary Clinton was on stage.
Yes, Hillary Clinton. The same Hillary Clinton who, when confronted by a young Black woman about the Democratic party, said “Why don’t you go run for something, then?” The same Hillary who ignored and subsequently removed a Black queer activist from an event in South Carolina.
This is the same Hillary Clinton who takes superficial interest the Black culture (#CwanzaaClinton) to garner support. The same Hillary Clinton who injected a rainbow into her logo even though she didn’t think we deserved the rights of so-called traditional couples until 2013. She is the same Hillary Clinton who considered my little brother a super predator and endorsed legislation that targets non-white and low-income families.
I could go on, but if you have stayed with me this long, chances are you feel me.
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Yes, she was invited to Black Girls Rock. But I was still taken aback by the fact that Hillary showed up and occupied a space created by and for us. The audacity!
But then, something magical happened. As the camera panned across the various shades of Black, my faith in humanity was restored. A room full of beautiful Black women from a range of hues, lip sizes, hair textures, and sexualities silently showed their solidarity with my anger. Arguably, at least how I saw it, every single Black woman in attendance was giving a collective and definitive ‘no thanks’.
Clinton’s false advocacy for Black women was the lie that launched a thousand side eyes. Flashes of the 1851 “Aint I a Woman?” speech by Sojourner Truth erupted in my mind and Eartha Kitt’s immaculate level of self love. This was what I had been waiting for. The crowd’s nonverbal reaction was the anti-endorsement to end all anti-endorsements.
Black Girls Rock has never been about white women. It is not about politics or pandering. It is about loving our natural Black selves and celebrating our contributions to this world. It is a safe space for chocolate jubilation, not a platform for vanilla backsliding. We sat in solidarity on this issue and never before has anything on television warmed my heart in such a meaningful way (including The Wiz Live).
The congregation has spoken and this is my message for the Hillary campaign: NOT TODAY, SATAN.
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