#WhichHillary: Activists Respond to Clinton’s White Feminism

By Baheya Malaty (FGS ’18)

Which HillaryAt Hillary Clinton’s most-recent lavish private fundraising event in South Carolina, Black Lives Matter activist Ashley Williams interrupted the event by holding up a sign which read, “We have to bring them to heel.” The sign was a reference to a speech made by Clinton in 1994 in support of a crime bill that caused an astronomical increase in the mass incarceration of Brown and Black Americans. In support of that bill, Clinton referred to young people of color involved with gangs as “super predators.” In the aftermath of Williams’ direct action, the hashtag #WhichHillary has become a popular one for activists who seek to critique Clinton’s campaign, which has championed itself as dedicated to the fulfillment of women’s rights. Utilizing the frameworks introduced by Bushra Rehman and Daisy Hernandez in Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism will illustrate the contradictions and hypocrisies of Clinton’s brand of feminism, which she has used to great effect in her campaign.

Bushra and Hernandez write, “When the media vilifies a whole race, when a woman breaks the image of a model minority…or when our neighborhoods are being gentrified, this is… where our feminism lies” (378). Thus they articulate the concerns of young feminists of color who initially felt partially liberated by white feminism, but who also felt uncomfortable with and excluded by white feminist analyses and spaces. On Twitter, @erniesfo echoed this tension: “The Hillary Clinton who says she supports Latinos or the one who supports a coup in Honduras? #WhichHillary.” Political commentator and journalist Ali Abunimah wrote, “#WhichHillary, the one who claims to be a lifelong child advocate or the one who never saw an Israeli massacre she didn’t applaud?” Rehman and Hernandez can help illuminate the tension between Clinton’s seemingly advocating progressive policies while simultaneously upholding oppressive ones:

We’ve grown up with legalized abortion, the legacy of the Civil Rights movement and gay liberation, but we still deal with sexual harassment, racist remarks from feminists and the homophobia within our communities. The difference is that now we talk about these issues in women’s studies classes, in classrooms that are multicultural but xenophobic and in a society that pretends to be racially integrated but remains racially profiled. (378)

Clinton and her supporters have thus celebrated her dedication to women’s rights without recognizing the many ways in which her policies been anti-feminist and extremely harmful to women and children.

Activists using the #WhichHillary highlight the ways in which Clinton’s pro-women agenda is not pro-all women; rather, it specifically pertains to the concerns of Western, white, middle and upper class women. In this way, they illustrate how Hillary is not much of a feminist at all, and her championing of women’s rights is more of a marketing scheme than a legitimate political platform. Along these lines, Astrid Henry examines what is lost when people attempt to market feminism:

Without its critiques of white supremacy and privilege, heterosexism, and capitalism—not to mention its continued insistence on examining the ways in which sexism and misogyny continue to operate in the world—feminism becomes nothing but a meaningless bumper sticker announcing “girl power” (390).

Clinton, who has advocated for women’s rights but has also supported legislation which contributed to the mass incarceration of Black Americans and worked with neoconservatives to derail a democratically elected government in Honduras, is emblematic of this brand of feminism. Clinton’s feminism ultimately does little to address actual feminist concerns; therefore, it operates as a “meaningless bumper sticker” through which Clinton can draw support by presenting as a “pro-woman” candidate.

#BlackLivesMatter All over the World: Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh

By Samantha Gilbert

IMG_8809Why is it that Michael Brown, an 18 year old black man who stole a few packets of cigarettes, can be shot on the spot by a white policeman, but James Holmes, a young white male, can shoot an entire movie theatre and kill 12 people, yet still be able to go to trial? This is a question that ensued after an emotional and eye-opening discussion we had today with Nadine Saeed and Mouctar Bah, extremely passionate activists part of the Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh.

To start off our session, Nadine shared with us the story of Oury Jalloh. 10 years ago, three women cleaning the streets called the police because they claimed that a young black man named Oury Jalloh was “harassing” them. Though he was only asking to use one of their cellphones to call his girlfriend, the police showed up immediately, eager to arrest any person of color, especially a migrant. At 8:15 am, Jalloh was aggressively arrested and thrown into a police cell. Four hours later, he was chained to a bed and burned alive. The police claim Jalloh set himself on fire, and without any further investigation of the crime scene, this became the concrete story. But there was no possible way for this to be a suicide. For one, Jalloh was tightly cuffed by each arm and leg to the mattress which made any movement of his hands impossible. Secondly, the lighter “found at the crime scene” had no traces of fibers from Jalloh’s clothing or the mattress, and was not turned in as evidence until three days after the burning took place. And finally, the extent to which Jalloh was burned was only capable through the use of a combustive agent and the absence of the anti-flammable mattress cover. However, the courts didn’t care. Even with this evidence, they ruled Jalloh’s death a homicide, and only charged a 10,800€ fine to one police officer for not saving Jalloh when the fire alarm initially went off. They also charged the police chief for turning off the fire alarm despite his excuse that the fire alarm was broken. As this case continued to be appealed, video evidence disappeared and police stories kept changing, but the verdict stayed the same.

IMG_8811Hearing this story physically made my heart hurt, and it reminded me of the contemporary Black Lives Matter (also referred to as Black Life Matters) movement in the United States. The Brown vs. Ferguson case brought needed attention to this issue, but there are dozens of cases just like Brown’s. Take for example the story of Victor White. He was a young Black man who police claimed “shot himself in the head” in the back of a police car in Louisiana after being arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Despite being handcuffed with no ability to move his hands, his death was ruled a suicide. There are countless other Black men and women who have similar stories, so I am very aware of racism in America. However, racism in Germany is brought to a whole different, unique level.

Not only are police able to get away with killing minorities here, but the secret service in Germany actually funds and organizes the National Socialist Underground, a racist and terrorist group associated with the KKK that has been killing innocent minorities for years. Racism is not only tolerated in this country, but is deeply rooted in every system of power. I am shocked. I am appalled. I am disgusted. As Maureen Maisha Eggers made clear in her article “Knowledges of (Un-) Belonging,” it’s difficult to even achieve a discussion of racism, let alone find a way to fight it and end it. Sandrine Micossé-Aikins, who we met with earlier today, echoes this idea in the introduction of The Little Book of Big Visions, a text she co-edited with Sharon Dodua Otoo (whom we’ll meet with next week). Micossé-Aikins told us that racism is so rarely talked about in Germany that people don’t even understand it exists, even though it is happening everywhere every day. She tightly links racism with nationalism—since the normative narrative is that Germans are white, so if you are not white, then you “can’t be German.”

IMG_8812The Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh has been investigating this case for years, with the hope of finally exposing the truth. They have worked with investigative journalists and have interviewed dozens of people connected to Jalloh and the police officers responsible for this crime. They have also made short films and held conferences to inform people of the situation. Ten years later and Oury Jalloh’s case is still being fought, and I can only hope that this time the courts bring him the justice he deserves. The Initiative is aware that the lawyers involved in Jalloh’s case aren’t activists and that they aren’t concerned about fighting for the truth, but rather doing what is best for them and their reputation. Nadine told us today that although she no longer has any belief in the judicial system, she believes it’s crucial for everyone to try to change the things they see going wrong in the world. Similarly, Philipp Khabo Köpsell gives hope to ending racism in “A Futurist’s Manifesto,” in which he writes, “This poem tells nothing about racism…. / In the future we rap about love / over beats made from smashing laptops against walls / rhythmically in sync with the tapping of / next door’s love birds. / In the future we love too much.” I can only hope that Koepsell’s vision comes true, but until then, the fight for justice and equality will continue. Oury Jalloh may be gone, but he is most certainly not forgotten.


SamanthaSamantha Gilbert is a sophomore who hails from Northern California and loves to be outside. From hiking to snowboarding to just breathing fresh air, nature really has her heart. She also really loves being active, as she runs track and field at CC as the team’s main female sprinter. She also writes for the sports section of The Catalyst, and is extremely passionate about journalism. She hopes to create her own major in Sports Psychology and double minor in Film & New Media Studies and Feminist & Gender Studies. Other hobbies of hers include watching The Food Network (specifically Chopped), going exploring with friends, and developing strong one on one connections with unique souls. Samantha loves traveling and learning, so this course has her super excited!

#BlackLivesMatter

By Nebeu Abrah (’18)

CC BLMHe who witnesses an injustice but stands idly by and allows the injustice to continue is just as bad, if not worse, than the original aggressor. With this belief in mind, last Tuesday, we shut down Cascade Avenue.

Recently, Darren Wilson was not indicted for murdering Michael Brown. As I sat with my fellow peers in complete disbelief following the decision, it became clear to me that the verdict meant that Michael Brown’s life was declared unworthy of trial. This case is relevant because it is bigger than just Michael Brown. This case made an indirect statement on the status of Black men in America. Black Lives simply don’t matter as much. Black lives are disposable, black people are a source of danger, and our “justice” system will allow Black lives to continually be taken without any repercussion and in some case with reward.

It is imperative to recognize the main point to take away from our rally is that we are not just protesting Daren Wilson. We are not just outraged by his freedom. What we are painstakingly frustrated with is the system that makes stripping Black mothers of their teenage sons common place. This specific case is not necessarily all that matters, what mattes is the message that it sends and the legal system that the case was subject to. Although it sure would have helped ease the pain, Darren Wilson’s arrest would not have ended police brutality or bring Michael Brown back to life.

We often become much too concerned with the “facts” of the case, which are often frighteningly easy to skew, when the single truth that we need to focus on is that a life was lost when it didn’t need to be. That’s it. Michael Brown is dead. Black teens are being gunned down in the streets as if it were a national sport. This is the problem. When the verdict came out, I was not concerned with Darren Wilson. In my eyes, it was the killing of Black teens that was not indicted that day. This is the injustice that I see and the injustice that I have and will continue to combat.

Practicality is a luxury that we couldn’t afford. To catalyze the change that we wanted to see, my fellow Black Student Union officers and I had to think big. After spending much of the evening just trying to process the non-indictment of Wilson, around midnight, we began to take action. The march that shutdown streets in the second biggest city in the state of Colorado, the march that had several news stations begging for interviews, the march that had police officers scrambling to redirect traffic and regain control of the streets, was all started by 4 heartbroken students who wanted change. Once one person proposed the idea that we should shut down a street, we ran with it. We were up with the team of student leaders at Colorado College sending last minute emails and speaking to news stations after hours at 2 am. We knew that the college bound Michael Brown would have had a prolific voice if he had lived, but we wanted to ensure, that in his death, his voice would ring out ten times louder than it ever would have.

For the Michael Browns of the past, present, and future, we fight.