Make no mistake about it; Hillary Clinton once again etched her name in the history books Tuesday night. After a hard-fought primary race with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton clenched the Democratic presidential nomination with decisive wins in New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, and the largest prize of the night, California.
During her acceptance speech in New York, Clinton connected her victory to the suffragette movement and the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, as well as the generations of Americans who’ve been fighting for gender equality.
“Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone,” Clinton told the frenzied crowd in Brooklyn. “Tonight’s victory is not about one person. It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible. In our country, it started right here in New York, a place called Seneca Falls, in 1848. When a small but determined group of women, and men, came together with the idea that women deserved equal rights”
As the first woman to be nominated for president by a major American political party, many hailed Clinton as a trailblazer for women and girls all over the world. Writing for CNN, Holly Yan called Clinton’s win “a political triumph” for little girls, and writer Jamil Smith said he hoped “women of all political stripes feel tonight what I felt about Obama eight years ago.” Woman writers and pundits shared their reaction on TV screens and social media, the overarching theme: they were hella proud.
— Lauren Rankin (@laurenarankin) June 8, 2016
Not going to lie, as mom to a daughter – this matters.
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) June 8, 2016
As many hailed Clinton’s victory as revolutionary, some felt something else entirely: ambivalence. Though it’s hard to deny Clinton’s moment is a big deal for our country—which trails behind Liberia, Germany, Argentina, Senegal, and other nations who have female heads of state—here in America, white women’s achievements haven’t automatically meant the door is cracked that much wider for Black women too.
During her speech, Clinton shouted out the 19th Amendment, which prohibited citizens from being denied the right to vote based on their sex. Though this constitutional change meant women were allowed to freely participate in the electoral process, Black women in the South, and other jurisdictions that employed tactics such as poll taxes and literacy tests to discriminate against African Americans, were not able to exercise this right. Instead, Black women would have to wait 45 years, until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed.
Although Clinton’s victory has been hailed as a momentous occasion for all women, the tagline of the seminal Black feminist text, But Some of Us Are Brave, continues to echo through my head.
“All the women are white.
All the Blacks are men.”
These two lines speak to the experience of Black women in America because we are so often marginalized along both race and gender lines and often forced to choose sides. And when it comes to Clinton, Black women are split about the true significance of her achievement.
On one hand, many are excited about the prospect of having a female Commander-in-Chief.
“I am delighted with Hillary’s achievements. I have been working all my life under the glass ceiling and I gave up hope of it ever cracking in my lifetime,” said Brenda Thompson. “The thought that we may soon have a woman President is staggering. I didn’t dream that there would be a Black President, but we have. Now it is time for a woman to step into his shoes. I am ready. The world is ready. It’s time.”
While others, feel little connection to Clinton at all. “I’m not excited. Clinton’s nomination is ‘historic’ but is offset by her race, class, and method in reaching her goal,” Jenn M. Jackson, managing editor of the Black Youth Project, said. “She used Black folks as a wrung in her political stepladder. It’s hard to feel a kinship with her just because of gender.”
Instead of speaking for all Black women, or solely elevating my own voice, I’m letting sistas to speak for themselves. After posing an open question to Black women on social media about whether or not they were excited by Clinton’s nomination, here’s some of what they had to say:
“I’m happy to see a different perspective – a woman’s perspective on handling foreign affairs, education & the economy.” – @LaFemme_Negrita
“I do not feel connected emotionally, however, I respect her for ability to [strategize] and build allies. She’s one smart woman. That I can respect. Will she be Obama, nope, but she has a lot of experience and she has the aptitude to listen and make adjustments to her view and make a decision in the best interest of the people. There will be times when she doesn’t, but no one president has ever made everyone in the US 100% happy. Where’s that line? Time will tell. I am willing to give her a shot for 4 years.” – Jasmine Wall
“I am super excited. It’s not ‘cool’ to be a Black woman Hillary supporter among my circles, but I’m amped. There are a quite a few of us out here. I voted for her in the 2008 primary as well and took a day off to hear her speak in Hartford, CT. That arena was filled with Black women. Last Saturday she was in Oxnard, and I made my way there, too. Folks sometimes critique her for not having Bill’s social ease, but in person she is warm and engaging.”- Ebony Murphy-Root
“I’m truly unenthused. She works hard. Clearly plays the game well. But her success comes from stepping on people of color. I’ll vote for her. But I’m not excited about it.” – Nubia Dickerson
“I recognize significance and symbolism in it but it is not a meaningful step for most issues for me. I do believe she will prioritize a lot of policies that help women domestically but I know her [foreign policy] won’t. And there’s a large chance she will enact policies that do harm to poor [women of color] in the US and call it ‘compromise.’” – @BrookieB_
“I’m actually proud that a woman is a forerunner in the good ole boy politics.” – LaTanya Bryant
“I’m excited! We have to look at the bigger picture. What she’s accomplished by taking a stand and stepping out of her husband’s shadows. The bigger picture points to this being a path clear for current First Lady Michelle Obama in the future.” – Joy Cook
“As a Black woman, her nomination doesn’t have as much impact on my life. I’m seen first as Black and then as a woman. That dividing line is always present and has been obvious in the way she presented her campaign to minority audiences. I don’t know if I’m voting FOR her as much as I’m voting AGAINST Trump. Even with the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument, she’s still evil so that defeats the purpose.” – Lesha Romeo
“I choked up during Hillary’s speech. As a young Boomer, I’ve spent the bulk of my working life in both a male dominated industry, television journalism, and then as an entrepreneur, focused on the tech sector. It’s not just the soul scarring papercuts of racist microaggressions I’ve endured, but also the outright shameless, sexist insults and presumptions. I am under no illusion that a Black woman will be the first female POTUS. So yes, it’s a breakthrough and yes, a successful run by Clinton will pave the way for some young Black woman or girl to run for office in the not too distant years to come.” – Carmen Dixon Rosenzweig
“I want to feel proud of a woman who is furthering the world. This feels like Ben Carson won the nomination to me.” – Brooke Brimm
“I appreciate what she has achieved, but am also clear that she stands on the shoulders of, and has had the added benefit of being in close proximity to, many great Black woman politicians from whom she has learned much. Without Chisholm there is no Hillary. And she had seen the greatness of Edelman, Waters, Mosley Braun and Lee first hand…so I see her nomination having been made possible by them in large measure. She also got one helluva assist from POTUS via her Sectary of State appointment. Also. Isn’t this so often how it goes down, with white women claiming victory as the cost of it on other groups rests squarely in their blind spots of privilege and inability to #watchtheintersection?” – Thembisa Mshaka
“It isn’t so much because she is white but because [Hillary Clinton] seems to be the opposite of woke, relatable, or enthusiastic about any issues relating to poverty, inequality, gender etc. I say this with the caveat that I really wanted to find her relatable and support her campaign. She makes it very hard!” – Samantha Sophia
“I want to feel proud. I want to feel accomplished. I want to feel the need to stand up taller, the way I felt with Barack. The truth is, I just don’t. I’m a woman of intuition, so if I don’t feel something, I don’t fight it. Something is missing to me. I have no debate she’s a stellar politician, but I don’t believe her.” – Evita Turquoise Robinson
“I’m not excited and it’s not because she is white. I can’t relate to her politics of which there is a clear history. For example, Bill Clinton’s crime bill, which she supported, devastated African American communities. Living in Chicago I see the devastation up close. As Maya Angelou said when someone shows you who they are believe them the first time.” – Karen Cecile Wallace
“I’m torn. In theory I should be happy because it’s historically significant. I just wish it was a woman I actually supported. And I wish I wasn’t about to vote for her just to keep Trump out of office. But that’s exactly what’s about to happen.” – Syreeta Thomas
“As a Black, Hip Hop, Queer Feminist, to support someone only because she is a woman is sexist. I cannot vote for a vagina just because it is a vagina. I am interested in the skin, attitude, and behavior attached to that vagina. The nomination is bittersweet. It is an amazing win for cis-white-women. I celebrate for them. But this is not a win for all womyn. It is beautiful indeed that my children will see a woman in the White House. But I know the trauma associated with that body and I cannot turn a blind eye or feeling less heart to it.” – Amber Johnson
“I’m excited about the possibility of having a woman president, and a feminist one at that. I also appreciate that she’s a leader that believes in service. That attribute reminds me of my own family who worked hard but always believe in giving back. That’s how I see Hillary Clinton. She’s more of a public servant than most people realize. I’m confident she will represent all of us. Hillary Clinton’s election will be historic because she’s a feminist and a public servant who understands many of the issues that matter to women like me.” – Sonya Clay
“So very torn. Happy my daughter, who is 5 and does not yet understand the complexities of all this, will see a woman and call a woman president. That’s a symbol that impinges. But we are a first generation Haitian American family and the crimes inflicted upon the country of our loved ones is not something I can ignore not mention how she and her family have harmed the black community after we embraced them so fully the last time the Clintons lived in the White House. So I feel wary and distrustful and a bit used. But – #girliguessimwithher” – Numa Perrier, Black & Sexy TV
Hillary Clinton is an undeniably polarizing political figure, and while she’s relied on Black voters to help her secure the Democratic nomination, Black women are still torn on what her nomination actually means for their lives.
Britni Danielle is a Senior Editor & Writer for EBONY.com & JETmag.com. Catch her tweeting @BritniDWrites.