Chickens, Please Come Home to Roost: The Clintons and Black People

Dr HerukhutiBy Dr. Herukhuti

One of the most controversial statements Malcolm X made was his response to the murder of an imperialist, white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchal US president whose public image had been spun into a liberal friend of Black people, John F. Kennedy.

According to Abayomi Azikiwe in an article for Global Research:

“In March of 1964, Malcolm X announced his official departure from the Nation of Islam where he had spent twelve years working on behalf of the organization led by Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm had been suspended and silenced for ninety days in the aftermath of an address he delivered at the Manhattan Center on December 1, 1963 entitled “God’s Judgment of White America.”

This rally organized by the NOI was planned well in advance of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22 in Dallas, Texas. Elijah Muhammad had ordered all of his ministers not to speak directly about the assassination since the country was still in a state of shock and mourning.

During the question and answer period of the meeting Malcolm X was asked about his response to the assassination and subsequently noted that the United States government and its leaders had engaged in targeted assassinations of foreign leaders. He specifically pointed to the murder of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in which the U.S. played a prominent role in the destabilization of his government in 1960 as well as his kidnapping, torture and execution in mid-January of 1961.”

Like JFK, Bill Clinton was also an imperialist white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchal US president who manipulated racial politics in the United States to maintain his power. Bill Clinton played the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show, a major source of entertainment among Black people in the early 1990s. Renowned author and don’t-give-a-fuck-about-the-white-gaze novelist, Toni Morrison, is blamed for calling Bill Clinton the first Black president because of a piece she wrote in The New Yorker, in which she said:

“African-American men seemed to understand it right away. Years ago, in the middle of the Whitewater investigation, one heard the first murmurs: white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black President. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas. And when virtually all the African-American Clinton appointees began, one by one, to disappear, when the President’s body, his privacy, his unpoliced sexuality became the focus of the persecution, when he was metaphorically seized and body-searched, who could gainsay these black men who knew whereof they spoke? The message was clear: “No matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how much coin you earn for us, we will put you in your place or put you out of the place you have somehow, albeit with our permission, achieved. You will be fired from your job, sent away in disgrace, and—who knows?—maybe sentenced and jailed to boot. In short, unless you do as we say (i.e., assimilate at once), your expletives belong to us.”

We all have something we’ve said in our past that we regret. This may be one of Morrison’s. If one looks at the Clinton record, one would hope it is. We can forgive Morrison this flaw in political analysis much more than the Black political class that has played crony politics with the Clintons–being lap dogs to the Clinton machine for personal advantages while the masses of Black people have suffered. Recently, the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee (CBC PAC) endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. The advocacy group Color of Change has raised serious questions about the integrity of CBC PAC.

While running for president, Bill Clinton verbally attacked community activist turned hip hop artist, Lisa Williamson aka Sister Souljah, at Jesse Jackson’s National Rainbow Coalition Convention, in an effort to communicate to white folks his ability to play hardball with Black people. Although she more than rebutted his false claims against her in her own speech, Clinton’s attack on her was immortalized in the phrase Sister Souljah Moment, which further dehumanized and violated her as a Black woman given that it was not her moment but rather his moment to step on her back on the way to the White House.

Clinton left Lani Guinier high and dry while she was being attacked and vilified in the press and political debates during her confirmation process, eventually withdrawing her nomination from consideration. He took a similar approach to former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders when she was attacked for advocating for comprehensive sex education over the lifespan for all people in the United States and the decriminalization of illicit drugs.

Bill Clinton has a long history as a white man who will use, abuse, or jettison Black women whenever it is politically expedient to do so. His partner in crime/life/politics, Hillary Clinton, the self-described feminist and champion of women, historically remains silent during and after these abuses but there have been key moments when she has broken her silence–usually to defend and advance the interests of their team. Welfare reform and the Crime Bill are two such examples.

In The Nation, Alejandra Marchevsky and Jeanne Theoharis reported,

 As first lady, she not only cheered her husband’s goal to “end welfare as we know it,” but she also helped whip up support for the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), the legislation that remade the welfare system: “I agreed that he should sign it and worked hard to round up votes for its passage,” she recounted in her 2003 memoir Living History. Later, as senator, she continued to applaud it, referring in one 2002 interview to people who had left welfare as “no longer deadbeats—they’re actually out there being productive.” Even as recently as her 2008 run for president, she defended the welfare-to-work legislation as “enormously successful,” while lamenting that “people who are more vulnerable” would suffer more during the recession.”

Bill and Hillary’s support for this policy, which had a devastating impact upon poor people–many of whom have been Black–prompted Hillary’s former Children Defense Fund boss, Marian Wright Edelman, to distance herself from Clinton and her husband to resign from the Clinton Administration in protest.

Marian Wright Edelman has also been critical of the Crime Bill that the Clintons have touted as a success of the Clinton Administration. In advocating for the crime bill, Hillary Clinton reiterated and used a racialized term super predator to refer to young Black people who were dealing drugs and engaged in associated criminal activity.

Recently, Bill Clinton doubled down on their justifications for the crime bill in an argument with protestors.

Michelle Alexander in an article for The Nation laid out a decisive analysis of the legacy of the Clintons’ relationship to Black people:

 An oft-repeated myth about the Clinton administration is that although it was overly tough on crime back in the 1990s, at least its policies were good for the economy and for black unemployment rates. The truth is more troubling. As unemployment rates sank to historically low levels for white Americans in the 1990s, the jobless rate among black men in their 20s who didn’t have a college degree rose to its highest level ever. This increase in joblessness was propelled by the skyrocketing incarceration rate.”

A number of sources have refuted the impact of the crime bill on the decline in crime during the 90s, which has been the Clintons’ justification for their contribution to the rise of the Prison Industrial Complex:

The Clinton Duo were also quite vile in their roles globally as well–negatively impacting the lives of millions of African people around the world. In Haiti, the Clinton policy perpetuated the longstanding attacks on Haiti’s independence with neocolonial trade policies and played a cynical role in the military coup that ousted the democratically elected president as well as its aftermath.

In Rwanda, their impact led to the unnecessary persistence of the genocide of millions of people.

One of the beneficial aspects of the HRC campaign for the democrat nomination for president is that Black people get a second chance at placing the Clintons and their record in true perspective. Will we be as strategic in using political expediency to do unto them what they have been so willing to do to us their entire political careers? If chickens come home to roost like people say they do, then that’s exactly what will happen.

When you vote, keep this video in mind:


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