Hillary Clinton, Black Girls Rock!, And Her Failed Attempts At Pandering To Minorities

Hillary Clinton took to the Black Girls Rock! Stage last week to emphatically declare that Black girls do, indeed, rock, but left many wondering if she was merely pandering to black women for their vote. While the non-profit Black Girls Rock! has been around since 2006, offering girls guidance, mentorship throughout the year and celebrating their achievements during their annual, televised awards ceremony, it seems that Clinton conveniently just caught wind of the event, right in the nick of time for her presidential campaign run! During what will likely be her final run for the Presidency, the support and votes of women – especially black women – is crucial to the success of her campaign. But who’s in charge of these attempts at outreach to black folks? If this were the first blatantly opportunistic effort to appeal to black and minority people, it would be easier to let it slide. But since her campaign’s inception, these juvenile attempts to get support from minorities have just been far too much.

It is hard to forget the absolutely ridiculous Twitter campaign that began a few months ago, featuring a cartoon version of  Rosa Parks sitting on her “H” logo,. This prompted a swift drag by Black Twitter who wondered why any candidate would use such an important legacy to garner a few likes or retweets. And if that attempt at social media pandering didn’t turn out poorly enough, Clinton wished Twitter a Happy Kwanzaa by releasing another version of her logo, featuring Kwanzaa colors and candles.

Then, only a month later, Clinton was accused of Hispandering, or pandering to Latino supporters. To reach Hispanic voters, Clinton’s content strategist thought it would be a great idea to compare Clinton to Hispanic grandmothers or “abuelas. A piece called “7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela” pointed out similarities between Clinton and an abuela, including but not limited to her fondness for talking about respeto or respect.  Many on Twitter failed to find the humor and called Clinton out for her attempt at trying to appeal to young Hispanic voters.

Yet, none of these gaffes were more embarrassing than when Hillary tried to Whip and Nae Nae during an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. After listening to a  discussion about  Clinton’s age, viewers were forced to watch her bust out the most elderly, senile looking Whip and Nae Nae. Oh Lawd, Hill, no girl!

Out of all of these failed attempts at securing the minority vote, Clinton’s use of the Black Girls Rock! platform to pander to black women still seems the most unsettling to me. As a young black woman, I know how seldom black girls receive praise or recognition for achievements that typically fall by the wayside– either overshadowed by those of black men and boys or other more dominant groups. So it is particularly hurtful and demeaning that Clinton did not understand the sanctity of that space. Black Girls Rock! is more than just a venue to take advantage of to further a political agenda. It is one of the few safe spaces where black girlhood is celebrated.

I am also particularly sensitive to the slights of white feminists who often co-opt black female struggles and platforms and this looks precisely like an example of just that. It would be one thing if Hillary Clinton supported the endeavor in any way, shape or form in the past few years that it has been around or even donated funds to ensure the longevity of the project, but there is no conclusive evidence that she has done either of these things. Why is she so quick to jump on the platform black women worked hard to build for themselves?

Hillary Clinton should try to have more tact when attempting to reach out to the minority community. And she most certainly should think twice before using the cultural property of minorities or the platforms created for and by minority people to try to garner their support. Hillary cannot reach out to a community or earn their support by disrespecting their spaces or culture. Hopefully her campaign strategist will catch wind of this fact and try a different approach.