This morning on CSPAN’s Washington Journal, Mark Halperin, editor-at-large for Time magazine and political analyst for MSNBC, was asked to discuss his take on whether former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be running for president in 2016. Mr. Halperin fielded a call from a viewer who believed that were it not for black men having received the right to vote before all women, a white women would have been elected president before a black man.
I’ve never given the “it’s our turn now” narrative much attention and did not realize until hearing the caller make her assertion that black men had an advantage over women because of the 15th amendment to the United States Constitution. The problem with the caller’s assertion is that she and her fellow Clintonites have overlooked the Jim Crow period. The Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia offers this definition of Jim Crow:
“Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system which operated primarily, but not exclusively in southern and border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than a series of rigid anti-black laws. It was a way of life. Under Jim Crow, African Americans were relegated to the status of second class citizens. Jim Crow represented the legitimization of anti-black racism. Many Christian ministers and theologians taught that whites were the Chosen people, blacks were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation. Craniologists, eugenicists, phrenologists, and Social Darwinists, at every educational level, buttressed the belief that blacks were innately intellectually and culturally inferior to whites. Pro-segregation politicians gave eloquent speeches on the great danger of integration: the mongrelization of the white race. Newspaper and magazine writers routinely referred to blacks as niggers, coons, and darkies; and worse, their articles reinforced anti-black stereotypes.”
The museum goes on to provide a short description of systemic denial of black voting rights in the Southern states:
“Blacks were denied the right to vote by grandfather clauses (laws that restricted the right to vote to people whose ancestors had voted before the Civil War), poll taxes (fees charged to poor blacks), white primaries (only Democrats could vote, only whites could be Democrats), and literacy tests (“Name all the Vice Presidents and Supreme Court Justices throughout America’s history”). Plessy sent this message to southern and border states: Discrimination against blacks is acceptable.”
The 15th Amendment was ratified by the U.S. Congress on 30 March 1870. Any advantages that black male voters had between ratification and the implementation of systemic and systematic oppression of Jim Crow was too short-lived to give black males any advantages. I would argue that America should have seen a white woman elected president before a black American because of a fifty to one hundred year advantage resulting from Jim Crow.
Time for Hillary Clinton’s female supporters to let the hate go and get their history right.