From Clinton finance committee member and former VP candidate Geraldine Ferarro:
If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.
And if Obama were gay, he wouldn't be in this position. And if he were a transman, he wouldn't be in this position. And if he were seropositive, he wouldn't be in this position. And if he were actually Muslim, he wouldn't be in this position. And if he were in a pederastic relationship with a law school student, he wouldn't be in this position. And if he were working class, he wouldn't be in this position. And if he were....
While her comments are ridiculous, I hope, to most Americans (well, maybe not Tucker Carlson and Pat Buchanan), there is a segment of the American population that actually thinks that Black people have it easier than white people. This is what the Republicans' Southern Strategy and Reagan's attacks on affirmative action and welfare queens were tapping into. This is the stuff political movements have been made of, and Ferarro isn't too dumb not to know what she's talking about.
As Dana Houle puts it:
The fact is, there are a lot of White people in American who believe they're at a disadvantage, that Blacks get things handed to them. The idea may be foreign to some people, but I've heard it my entire life. I've heard it at family gatherings, in my neighborhood when I was a kid, from family friends and all kinds of other folks. It's not a fringe belief. It's at the heart of the belief system of the so-called Reagan Democrats--swing voters and even some Democrats who were cradle Democrats but defected to Reagan and have been up for grabs in most elections since 1992.
Some of these Reagan Democrats will hear Ferraro's comment, and they'll think about the job they didn't get because, they believe, it went to an affirmative action hire. They'll think about the guy promoted over them because, they believe, he's black. And they'll think "here we go again."
Indeed. If Ferarro were just plugging right back into the "suffering Olympics" narrative that the mainstream punditry is obsessed with, trying to prove who has it worse of two oppressed demographics, no attention paid to intersectionality, class, or contextuality, then we'd be confronting privilege, in much the same way that a queer liberation politic devoid of intersectionality, class analysis, or a contextualization of oppression tends to come from a privileged sector of the LGBTQ community.
That'd be one thing, and she is doing that one thing. And to that Patricia Williams says in The Nation:
There is no profit in styling a competition of oppression. One ubiquitous subtext of the black man-trumps-white-woman calculus is that it's easier to be a black man than it is to be a white woman or, even more reductively, that sexism is worse than racism. It works alongside right-wing claims that racism isn't a problem anymore. That in turn fuels the not-so-coded diminishments asserting that Obama is getting "preferential" treatment in the media; that he's simultaneously "entitled" and "elite" yet "unqualified" and "not ready."
But Ferarro takes it one step further with the comparison to a hypothetical white, male Obama. It's not something that I haven't heard from some Clinton supporters, that white people are voting for Obama because they're enthralled with the idea of a Black president, implying that racism is over and that Obama the Unqualified-for-the-Job is getting a free ride because of his race. It's a tired reverse racism argument.
And how's that any different from a white coworker I once knew who complained about how Blacks are taking all the good jobs from better qualified white people because of Affirmative Action?
With multiple narratives of stereotypes and oppression, with their being malleable and intersectable, and with the systemic racism that still plagues this country, saying quite flatly that a white, male version of Obama would have already lost is laughable. (And would a white version of Obama, therefore, have all his same experiences and characteristics because we all know that racism is over?)
Yes, Ms. Ferarro, white privilege still exists. And I can say that and recognize that the Daily Breeze article's title, "Geraldine Ferarro lets her emotions do the talking," is quite unfortunately sexist.
This isn't an attack on Hillary Clinton, she didn't articulate these sentiments, so please save the "Clinton's the coolest and she didn't make those remarks and you're a douche, Alex" comments. But I am waiting for a reaction since Ferarro is officially associated with the campaign. After all, Samantha Powers resigned for calling Clinton a "monster" in the British press.