Hillary Clinton and the Problem With Well-Meaning White Liberalism

It is well-documented that I am begrudgingly voting for Hillary Clinton in November. She is the defition of a well-meaning White liberal and people like her are the reason why we can’t shake free of our shackles.

Recently, people all over the country have been reacting to the vicious murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two Black men who were killed by police on camera during the week of Fourth of July. These murders were followed by peaceful protests, one which ended in a sniper shootout in Dallas and 5 police officers dead. Essentially, the last two weeks have been nothing short of chaotic when it comes to assuaging tensions between marginalized communities and police authorities.

Ms. Clinton responded to all of these issues in an interview with Wolf Blitzer last week. Here is what she had to say.

“I will call for White people like myself to put ourselves in the shoes of those African American families who fear every time their children go somewhere, who have to have ‘the talk’ about how to really protect themselves, when they’re the ones who should be expecting protection from encounters with the police. I am going to be talking to White people. I think we’re the ones who have to start listening to the legitimate cries that are coming from our African American fellow citizens. And we have so much more to be done and we have got to be about the business of doing it. We can’t be engaging in hateful rhetoric or incitement of violence. We need to be bringing people together…we need more love and kindness.”


While watching herĀ on CNN, I started to feel nauseous. Her rehearsed responses and empty rhetoric left me feeling like I had signed myself up to vote for my own annihilation.

During my first year of graduate school, I wrote a paper where I suggested that, to some degree, all White Americans are racist. My assertion stemmed from the fact that so many White people deny that racism even exists. Many even refuse to acknowledge how our obsession with labor and capital is rooted in anti-Black sentiment and the commodification of people of color. However, there is something even more diabolical than the out and out race deniers. Many White liberals, like Hillary Clinton, know all the right words, they have read the books, and they even do some of the research on racism in America. But, they never actually do anything about it.

On the campaign trail, Ms. Clinton has been rude, dismissive, and hateful towards Black protesters and organizers. She has ignored calls for her to take a real stand on ending racial violence. And, she has avoided offering solutions to the ongoing racial divides between communities of color and more affluent, whiter communities. Not to mention, she is funded by the very corporations and entities, like private prisons, which directly contribute to racial disparity in the United States.

Yet, she continues to deploy language that makes other White people believe she is truly dedicated to making changes to the racist fabric of the country. This unto itself is a form of racism. It is implicit, yes. But, to many people of color, it is also an explicitly facile attempt at resolving racial tension. There is no substance here. Only words like “love” and “kindness” in the face of targeted, murderous violence against Black people.

This is modern well-meaning White liberalism. It is the process by which many Whites have convinced themselves that they are the “good ones” if they only say something about Black people and police. They want brownie points and cookies for even acknowledging the disparities between themselves and others. They want nothing more than to look anti-racist without ever actually engaging with the ways that their “allyship” too, is racist.

Frankly, I’m not with her. I’m desperate. As many of her supporters have noted time and again, Hillary Clinton is the best thing we’ve got to beat Trump. I understand that. But, I also know that I am compromising myself by helping to elect another White person who has no critical eye toward ending White Supremacy or changing the police state.

When Ms. Clinton wins, I won’t be proud. This won’t be a win for me no matter what flowery language she uses to try and convince me otherwise.


Photo: CNN screenshot

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.

1 Response

  1. GreenInOC says:

    What is it that a candidate can do – actual solutions, actual actions? Maybe I’m old and cynical but as candidates I don’t think any of them “do” anything because their words can’t have actions – they aren’t in a position to actually act. I think that all candidates take money that they ideally shouldn’t.. but again – old & cynical.

    Which candidate(s) and action(s) of current or previous candidates that you would point to as actually doing something rather than empty rhetoric, as something candidates should aspire to or emulate?