Ruminating On Gender And Race (Again!)


I really said I was going to stop talking about this. But I just read through the convo over at TNR between Amanda Fortini and Michelle Cottle, as well as Isaac's response, and I just want to throw in a couple notes.

1.) Picking up on Isaac's great point about "excitement over a woman/black president," I think so much of this has to do with the candidate themselves. This whole notion of masses of people "excited about a black president,"in particular, ignores the fact that since 1984, we've had a black person at least declare for president every year. In 2004 we had two--a black man and a black woman. I don't recall there being much excitement around the notion of President Al Sharpton, amongst blacks or whites. It's true that there is a great deal of excitement now about electing a black president--but that's because the prospect is Barack Obama. Ditto for Hillary. This sort of reductionist thinking that focuses only on her gender--independent of much more mundane factors like ignoring caucus states--is myopic. It misses, and greatly diminishes, the power of the individual.

2.) If there is one thing that all this gender/race analysis has taught it's this simple lesson--There Are No Black. Women. Anywhere. Ever. There's been great handwringing over an alleged schism between younger and older feminists. But if that's a schism, I don't know what you call the chasm between black and white feminists. We all are very interested in how the campaign would have unfolded if Barack Obama had been a woman. But we could care less how it would have unfolded if Hillary had been black, mostly because the answer is much simpler--there would have been no campaign to begin with. She would, most likely, be hooked up with a black dude, and thus likely would never have been First Lady of Arkansas, much less of the United States, and much less a Senator from New York. An inability to even consider other worlds explains why every time I see some writer attempting to assess the interplay of race and gender, it's rarely someone who actually has to, you know, deal with race and gender. That of course includes yours truly.