Anyone reading the L.A. Progressive knows I support Barack Obama. But I have to admit that as I sat watching and listening to Hillary Clinton announce that she was suspending her campaign this past Saturday, I felt a tinge sadness and a sense of loss.
I didn’t expect to feel this. I was getting tired of the primary – tired of hearing the same phrases used and reused by both the punditry and the candidates. And I was disappointed that Senator Clinton stooped to some of the levels she and Bill stooped to — both using tactics that diminished them in my eyes. So, when she stepped onto that stage I expected to feel a sense of victory but, to my surprise, I didn’t.
As I sat watching this woman postpone a lifelong dream — a dream that arguably could have been hers long ago if she were a white man, I felt that she, to some extent, had been robbed. Not necessarily during this campaign but throughout the many years of her hard earned victories most of which were awarded to Bill.
Throughout the campaign I made a conscious effort to focus on the issues and the unique talents each of the candidates brought to the table. Neither race nor gender were factors in my analysis, at least not conscious ones. But frequently, okay daily, the media and political pundits inserted race and gender into the dialogue.
But it wasn’t just what they were saying, it was who they were. Has anyone noticed how many more black and female commentators are being aired these days? And if they are both, black and female, they’re really in demand. Every time I turn on the tube these days I see Donna Brazile (pictured above), Michel Martin or Michelle Norris giving their opinion on Obama or Clinton – somewhat of an acknowledgment that their point of view is different or more credible than that of their counterparts (interesting that I called them counterparts). This may be true but can it also be interpreted to mean that if Obama or Clinton were not black and female, we’d be less likely to see Donna Brazile and the others at the discussion table? And this, more than anything else, brings to the fore how far we have yet to come.
I’m jazzed to see such a variety of people on cable and network news. Katrina van den Heuvel, Eugene Robinson, Rachel Maddow, and others bring insights to the table that we desperately need.
The change of the face of the political punditry is just one small example of how race and gender play out in America. While it’s likely Donna Brazile and the others, who are all highly paid professionals, wouldn’t have difficulty finding assignments regardless of who is running for president, it is clear their race and gender were factors considered by the networks and cable stations in choosing them. Is it likely television media is the only place this is played out? I don’t think so. I certainly see it played out in other realms every day.
– by Sharon Kyle
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