Melissa Harris-Lacewell's essay about Hillary Clinton on the new WaPo site "The Root" claims that many black women did not vote for Hillary in the primaries because of what she deems Hillary's "Scarlett O'Hara Act." Harris-Lacewell, an associate professor of politics and African American studies at Princeton, goes further, arguing that wealthy white women (like Scarlett) have forever been getting ahead by stepping on the backs of "Mammies," or "faithful, feisty, loyal servants of white domesticity," adding, "Hillary cannot have black women's allegiance for free."
There are so many infuriating things about Ms. Harris-Lacewell's argument that it's hard to know where to begin. But here goes! One, Lacewell labels Hillary "Scarlett" simply because she's white and wealthy and does not mention one iota of Clinton's policies concerning African-American women, writing,"black women need health insurance." Well, one of the main pillars of Clinton's policy is now, and has always been, a more universal health care plan. "Black women need decent schools for their children," Lacewell continues. Thing is, as a New York Senator, Hillary strongly supported the bill that would give Head Start $7.350 billion in funding for the 2008 fiscal year. You know what else she did for kids? Clinton introduced the Kinship Caregiver Support Act, which makes sure that children who are living in grandparent-supported households have easier access to payments from the government. According to the 2000 census, "more than half of... Black coresident grandparents were responsible for their grandchildren."
"Black women need help caring for their aging parents," Lacewell continues. Hillary co-sponsored a bill to increase social security benefits for public servants.
"Black women voters are rejecting Hillary Clinton because her ascendance is not a liberating symbol. Her tears are not moving. Her voice does not resonate." That obviously, I can't argue with: it could be entirely true that black women voters do not find Hillary a liberating symbol and prefer Barack Obama, for, among other reasons, the feeling of liberation he imparts. That doesn't mean that Hillary doesn't care about black women; calling her a racist without backing it up with anything substantive is just an intellectually cheap way to ruffle feathers. But I'm just a wealthy, white Scarlett O'Hara. What do I know?
Hillary's Scarlett O'Hara Act [The Root]