At Monday’s Black and Brown Forum at Iowa’s Drake University, Hillary Clinton got put into the hot seat when a student asked her to talk about white privilege.
Broadcasted by the Fusion Network, the Black and Brown Forum challenged Democratic presidential candidates in talking about issues facing America’s communities of color. During the event, Thalia Anguiano, a junior in the university’s Law, Politics & Society and Communications departments asked Clinton to define white privilege and to cite life experiences in which she’s benefited from it.
Clinton’s response touched on Anguiano’s question, but she stumbled and started beating around the bush right when she captured our attention. The former Secretary of State started off by saying:
“I was born white, middle-class, in the middle of America. I went to good public schools. I had a very strong, supportive family. I had a lot of great experiences growing up. I went to a wonderful college. I went to law school.”
Clinton went on to explain that while growing up she wasn’t aware of her privilege, and she felt that she was lucky to have the life she had. She stated that there were two major experiences that later showed her how much she was advantaged by her whiteness and her stable economic standing.
However, because of her rambling on the topic, Clinton only had time to cite one example. She detailed a childhood experience in which she was asked to babysit the children of migrant workers by her church in Chicago. Clinton explained that seeing the children interact with their parents showed her the difference between the kind of labor and societal pressures that migrants (and their families) are subject to, versus the kind of opportunities and resources her own family had that directed them towards upward mobility. While speaking, Jorge Ramos, one of the forum’s hosts, interjected and told the candidate that they had to move on to the next question.
Anguiano told Fusion after the event that she wasn’t pleased with the response to her question.
“I feel like she didn’t answer it.” She said that she was initially thrown off by Clinton’s anecdote and didn’t understand where Clinton was going with her story.
I personally disagree with Anguiano on this one. I myself was struggling to understand what Clinton was trying to say when she first started telling her anecdote, but I don’t have a problem with Clinton’s comment. After all, Clinton did blatantly admit to being privileged as a white and economically advantaged woman. She also gave us a personal account that made her aware of this. I just think she needs to learn how to speak more directly and concisely about race in a way that will resonate with millennial voters. In other words, Clinton (and the other presidential candidates) need to learn how to express their thoughts on whiteness and privilege that will translate to the way we as younger adults talk about race.
So I’m giving Clinton crickets at her response—not so much because she missed the mark on the topic. I say this because I want her to speak at greater length on it in an even more transparent and personal way. I’m very critical of other things that Clinton has said in the past about race as it regards to Blacks and Latino people, but I’m also highly intrigued. If she could find a way to just cut the crap and deal with the generational divide that’s already standing between her and her younger voters by having more transparent and heartfelt conversations about race and how her privilege has gotten her to where she is today, I think it could only bolster her in this campaign cycle.
What say you, beauties? Check out the clip and sound off below.