Michelle Alexander (above), the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, has concerns about African-American support for Hillary Clinton.
Moving forward into South Carolina and other southern states, Clinton is expected to be highly reliant on securing the Black vote. After basically losing (but for a coin toss or six) in Iowa, and getting stomped on in New Hampshire, and seeing the demographics from both places show she does not have the wide and deep support from women she thought she did, the Black vote is pretty much all that Hillary has left to beat Sanders with. It’s that important.
Despite Clinton’s confidence, many African-Americans are asking if she really deserves the Black vote. Michelle Alexander doesn’t think so.
What have the Clintons done to earn such devotion? Did they take extreme political risks to defend the rights of African Americans?” the author asks in The Nation. “Did they courageously stand up to right-wing demagoguery about black communities? Did they help usher in a new era of hope and prosperity for neighborhoods devastated by deindustrialization, globalization, and the disappearance of work?
More importantly, what a lot of Black voters aren’t aware of is how the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of Bill’s presidency helped mass incarceration become more efficient with the “three strikes” implementation, a provision that imposed life sentences on anyone convicted of a violent felony after two or more priors. Former President Clinton also signed into law the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which gutted welfare. He repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1996 — a Depression-era banking law that kept different kinds of banking institutions separate — which, arguably, led to the 2008 housing crisis and disproportionately affected black homeowners.
Alexander says Clinton must be judged by her husband’s record on this because, in a way, it’s her history too.
Some might argue that it’s unfair to judge Hillary Clinton for the policies her husband championed years ago. But Hillary wasn’t picking out china while she was first lady. She bravely broke the mold and redefined that job in ways no woman ever had before. She not only campaigned for Bill; she also wielded power and significant influence once he was elected, lobbying for legislation and other measures. That record, and her statements from that era, should be scrutinized. In her support for the 1994 crime bill, for example, she used racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals. “They are not just gangs of kids anymore,” she said. “They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
Clinton, who endorsed her husband’s crime policies as recently as 2012, has also seen her Ready for Hillary PAC receive $133,246 from prison lobbyists.