UpFront Politics: Editor's Choice

Hillary Clinton & The Black Community

Posted: October 14, 2016 at 2:08 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

To say that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her entire political career has been tainted is in some ways an understatement. However, with the election just weeks away there are a lot of different aspects being looked at as to who would best serve this country in the sad shape that it has gotten into. One of those things is how the black community is looking at each candidate. In-flight of seemingly racial disparities that have come into play in recent months and years, it is time that someone somewhere does something to fix these issues. Is Hillary Clinton the person for the job and can she follow Obama’s footsteps to begin fixing these issues. Medical care, police brutality, lack of education, lack of jobs, a tough but hopeful stance on criminal reformation?

In some recent polls, especially among the younger voters (millennials), the popular stance is well who is the less of two evils? And does our voice make a difference? Among popular conspiracy theories is that the elections are rigged by the top 1% or by the government itself. It seems the popular belief here is that certain powerful people already know who will work in their best interest, and once that decision is made then votes will be rigged, or influenced as it supposedly was in the John Kerry Florida debacle.

However, those that believe their votes matter are stating that Hillary is a key factor for the reason so many young blacks are incarcerated now. That the welfare (food stamps, Medicaid, ktap, social security, child care assistance, etc.) was reformed to the point that now young minority families cannot afford to keep their lights on. It is difficult for them to feed their children, or find jobs that pay well because they don’t have adequate access to child care.

There is also the fact that some have stated that at least with Trump they know what they’re getting into and know it will be a very rough ride, but with Hillary they don’t think she can be trusted. Then some state that even though they don’t trust her, they believe with enough heat put on her to fix certain things she will do whatever is necessary to see to it that those things are done. So the opinion among this crowd is varied. However, most have stated that they have family or associates that will pressure them into voting and that they will vote for Hillary just to stop Trump.

In the 1990s during Clinton’s presidency, there was a crime bill and a welfare reform bill put into legislation that did seem to rock the boat so to speak, the fact that Hillary backed her husband on this has hurt her. In those bills, the time given to non-violent criminals was increased, there were sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine, this essentially in some cases moved the money spent on social programs to help families to the penal system where the bill subsequently increased for incarceration of non-violent offenders.

By 1996 the penal bill was more than twice the amount that had been allocated for food stamps. The funding for public housing was slashed by $17 billion dollars a whopping 61%, while correction funding increased by $19 billion a major increase of 171%. This pretty much-moved housing for minority families from housing complexes to penal institutions. Bill Clinton worked with changes that targeted the young black population not only by the welfare reform and sentencing that I mentioned earlier but by eliminating Pell grants for prisoners trying to further their education while incarcerated. While trying to prepare for a career when they were released, and making those grants and other federally funded financial aid inaccessible to anyone with any drug conviction even misdemeanors such as paraphernalia charges that can include anything at all. Even rolling tobacco papers even if you do use them for rolling tobacco.

There was also the lifetime ban of ktap and food stamp benefits for anyone with a felony drug conviction. This bill also made it so that public housing projects could deny anyone shelter with any criminal history even arrests without convictions. This made it so that people that were being released from prison could not go home to their families without putting the whole family at risk of eviction. This especially hit the homes where single mothers and children were, this made it impossible for some young black fathers to be in the home with their children to take an active role in parenting them.

It also made it possible for public housing projects to evict a whole family if a single person in the home or a guest got a charge of any kind no matter how minor even if the family member was not on the property at the time. To boot, there were no provisions put into place that provided for these homeless families. This contributed to the continuing cycle of crime and desperation, essentially reducing blacks and the poor community to second class citizens.

Now it is true that black leaders were for the majority on board with these so-called get tough laws but in turn, they asked for investments in schools, education, jobs, housing, communities, and easier access to child care. They did not get these, though. So it is true that Hillary backed these laws, but she was the first lady, and it would not bode well at all for her to publicly go against her husband who is the commander in chief and a leader of the entire nation.

What younger people don’t look at is the fact that the crime legislation put into place was for federal prisons, not state prisons, which is a state by state issue that just happened to follow the lead of the federal prison legislation. They also do not look at the fact that she has put forth a plan and to abolish private prisons because of the way prisoners are being treated in them.

When Hillary graduated college in 1973 she worked for civil rights activist Marian Edelman and advocated for the child defense fund; she also traveled to South Carolina to end the incarceration of teenagers in adult prisons. She investigated 200 private academies in Alabama who received tax exempt status and was actively turning away black students. She started a legal aid clinic to allow the impoverished access to legitimate legal counsel; she worked to start a single parent scholarship fund in Arkansas. She was responsible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program during her husband’s presidency; she lead the cause for foster care and adoption reform, she made Medicaid for foster kids stretch until their 21st birthdays, she worked for the expansion of the head start program, she led the campaign for stricter hate crime laws.

When the news of the lead poisoning in Flint, MI got out she called the mayor and asked what she could do to help. She has indicated she wants tuition-free access to higher education in public universities and she wants child care assistance to be expanded. The older voters know this, so they are on board with her all the way.

Even though she is the leading choice among black voters, there is concern that in many key states namely Florida the black community may not show up to vote because they just don’t feel it will make a difference and because of the fact that most just aren’t sure they trust her. It seems that the ones that will show up are more anti-Trump than pro-Clinton and this poses a problem in that they may very well be swayed another direction altogether. She holds 70% of the black support but will they show up to voice that vote?

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.