Sure, some will say, that was then, this is now. But how different are the two people who will both be moving into the White House?
The woman that was supposedly married to America's first black president is now hoping that it is Black America that buoys her campaign. The problem is that regardless of whether Bill Clinton believes, as he has recently stated, that"we are all mixed-race people...", he is white and the Clintons were far from good for Black America in their last go around in the White House.
Whether we look at "The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act " signed by President Clinton in 1994, a piece of legislation which led to more black men being incarcerated than we had seen in all of America's dark history, which is saying a lot. Or, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which nearly gutted black media ownership by removing caps on corporate media ownership. The Clinton era was marked by a reality of setbacks for African Americans that are too often understated, and are best summed up by Michelle Alexander, author of the bestseller "The New Jim Crow".
We have come a long way since the days of slavery and Jim Crow, and we do have a black president. But institutional racism is unfortunately alive and well in the United States. Mass incarceration, racial profiling, infant mortality and lack of access to quality education and health care all disproportionately affect African-Americans.
As we ponder whom to support in the presidential primaries, let us ask ourselves which candidate will passionately and tirelessly fight racism on the institutional level. That means creating jobs, implementing universal health care, ending the militarism of the police and advocating legislation to reduce the draconian sentences that disproportionately impact African-Americans.
It is commonly thought that Hillary Clinton is more committed to the black community than Bernie Sanders is. But in the 1980s, when Clinton was the first lady of Arkansas, she vilified public school teachers and their union. Many or most of them were African-American, and as legal scholar and “The New Jim Crow” author Michelle Alexander has pointed out, the U.S. prison population increased more under Bill Clinton than any other president. He supported racial disparity in sentencing and the heavy-handed “three strikes.”
When Hillary Clinton advocated for the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which created 60 new death penalty offenses, provided $9.7 billion for prisons and eliminated inmate education programs, “she used racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals,” Alexander wrote in The Nation. Clinton said at the time, “They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended that way, but first we have bring them to heel.” Bring them to heel. …
When civil rights icon John Lewis announced that the political action committee of the Congressional Black Caucus was endorsing Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, he said he had never encountered Bernie Sanders during the civil rights movement. But as Tim Murphy points out in Mother Jones, Sanders was very active in the movement at the University of Chicago. As president of the University of Chicago’s Congress of Racial Equality, Sanders organized pickets and sit-ins. He was arrested for resisting arrest when he protested segregation.