‘A ‘Nasty Woman,’ ‘The African American,’ and ‘A Bad Hombre’ Weigh in on the Final Presidential Debate

21.October.16

Originally published on The Huffington Post

Photo credit: screen grab of final presidential debate on Oct. 19, 2016. Photo credit: Bill B. via Flickr Creative Commons

‘Nasty woman’ is my generation’s new clarion cry

By Angela Pupino

There is a new clarion call for women across America: “Nasty woman.”

When Donald Trump referred to Hillary Clinton as a “nasty woman” during the last presidential debate, it was the sexist cherry on top of a series of presidential debates that were increasingly difficult to watch.

During the first debate, my greatest concern was about the subtle sexism that Clinton would be facing on the debate stage. As a former speech and debate competitor, I knew the challenges she faced well: Would her physical appearance or policy proposals generate more discussion? Would she appear ‘screechy’ or ‘shrill’, ‘emotional’ or ‘irrational’? Would she not be emotional enough? Would her body language be confident and strong? Would she smile enough? My fears turned out to be unfounded.
Clinton performing flawlessly against the irrational, emotional man on stage.

By the second debate, I was considering more serious issues as video of Trump talking about his sexual assaults on women became national headlines. I am a survivor of sexual assault as are many of my college friends. And we struggled to watch the news without encountering trivialization of our experiences. When Anderson Cooper asked Donald Trump in the second debate about being caught on video describing assaulting women, my worst fears were realized. Trump reiterated his “locker room talk” non-excuse, and then immediately tried to change the subject by regurgitating his talking points on ISIS.

It got worse. He said, “We should get on to much more important things and much bigger things.” What could be more important than the safety of an entire segment of our population? One of my friends left the room, visibly upset. I felt I couldn’t say much to make her feel better. I was having trouble making myself feel better.

Needless to say, I did not have high hopes for the last debate.

But the final debate held triumphant moments for me to witness as a young woman. Clinton’s crystal clear and powerful answer on a woman’s right to decide what to do with her own body comes to mind. But it was followed almost immediately by Trump’s absurd lies about ripping babies out of the womb during late term abortion. (Some of my friends, watching with me, wondered aloud if he was confusing C-sections with abortion.) Trump maintained that his sexual assault accusers were lying. When Trump referred to Clinton as a “nasty woman,” several of the college men at my watch party laughed. I couldn’t tell if they were shocked, uncomfortable or agreed.

But if Clinton – a woman at the top of her field who engages with knowledge, passion and confidence – is a “nasty woman,” then so am I, as are thousands of others who do not apologize for being women with something to say.

Unfortunately, the debates gave us front row seats to the sexism we still grapple with as a nation. We see how women are judged by their body language and choice of clothes. We see how sexual assault is trivialized and puts victims on trial. We see the delight some share when first female presidential nominee from a major party is called “nasty” on national television.

Yet watching as Hillary Clinton rises above all the sleaze that Trump and his ilk are slinging has made me feel more confident and more proud to be a woman. And if that makes me “a nasty woman” too, I can live with that.

Angela Pupino is a fall writing fellow for the Center for Community Change Action.

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Photo credit: Mike Licht via Flickr Creative Commons


Trump just doesn’t get ‘The African Americans’

By Fredrick McKissack, Jr.

Las Vegas was a fitting end to the presidential debate debasement. It’s a city where the tinny spillage of coins from slot machines masks an inducement to spend money in search of a big payoff that won’t come.

It’s a perfect metaphor for Donald Trump’s sell to the black community.

Donald Trump’s mouth spills some truths about the plight of urban life.

“Our inner cities are a disaster,” Trump said last night. “You get shot walking to the store. They have no education. They have no jobs. I will do more for African-Americans and Latinos that she can do for ten lifetimes.”

Sounds good, right? But his plan to do “ten times more” for African Americans and Latinos struggling to get by has been and continues to be nebulous.

Sitting with the Washington Post’s editorial board last March, Trump acknowledged that despair was killing communities. He proposed economic zones and incentives for companies to move to the urban core.

Then it got weird-ish.

“I actually think I’d be a great cheerleader,” he said.

Huh?

Sorry, but poor black folks don’t need a cheerleader. We need bulldozers to knock down walls and good-paying jobs to thrive and rebuild communities.
We don’t need a racist politician with a penchant for calling us “THE” African Americans in a way that sets us up as the “other” to be condescended to, feared and dismissed.

Chicago is an example of how such racist biases choke us.

Last January, a University of Illinois Chicago report unveiled a horrific stat: 41 percent of young black men and women from ages 20 to 24 were out school and unemployed in 2014. That affects every aspect of our lives, from financial stability to stability at home.

And yet jobs are hard to come by. Consider how difficult it is for black people to get work in construction. Construction trades have always held an antipathy toward blacks, DeAngelo Bester, a local community organizer, told me last January. The unions blame contractors, and contractors blame unions for not hiring more black workers.

But even the city’s besieged mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, admits the racist history of construction trade jobs.

These are the realities that Trump doesn’t dig into when he talks about how he’d help “the African Americans.”

We are not hearing how he’d actually create the kinds of programs that overcome racial biases and help all Americans thrive. Until then, we don’t need any more tinny spillage.

Fredrick McKissack, Jr. is a writing fellow for the Center for Community Change Action.

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Rally for immigration reform. Photo credit: Progress Ohio via Flickr Creative Commons

Instead of ‘bad hombre’ clickbait, let’s try real immigration discussion

By Thomas Kennedy

This election has been a traumatic one for undocumented folks living in the United States. Immigrants have been the scapegoat in Donald Trump’s rise to power, as he seeks out to further divide communities in this country for his own political gain.

Throughout the election we have seen two very different platforms regarding immigration policy, Trump claims that he will set up a deportation task force to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants and build a border wall which Mexico will pay for. Hillary Clinton on the other side promises to introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship within the first 100 days of her presidency.

The first two debates did not mention immigration. When immigration was finally discussed during the third debate, it seemed as if the moderator and candidates were merely going through the motions. Trump doubled down on his past stances on building the wall and mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, while Clinton doubled down on her promise of comprehensive immigration reform.

The highlight for me was when Trump claimed that one of the first acts of his administration would be to get the “bad hombres“ out of this country. Bad pronunciation and terrible use of Spanglish aside, the moment was bizarre in its sheer incoherency. Trump fear mongered about drugs, drug lords and bad people pouring through the border in what has become a stale regurgitation of nativist talking points designed to rile up his ever diminishing base of supporters.

For much of my life, I was an undocumented immigrant with undocumented parents who worked hard, built mom-and-pop businesses, paid taxes and showed me the value of giving back to our community.

I guess that makes me a “bad hombre.”

What’s sadder is the news media treatment of all this. The focus of the night in multiple news articles was the #BadHombres hashtag that quickly started trending on Twitter. Yes, it’s hilarious because of its absurdity, but articles such as a CNN piece titled “Who won the third presidential debate? #BadHombres“ didn’t do much to further a much-needed and real discussion about immigration.

Instead of further analyzing what has become the flagship issue used by Trump to divide the country, the news media largely chose to give us clickbait articles about hashtags and mocking the GOP candidate. While Donald Trump is absurd and he deserves our ridicule, the American public also deserves an informed and intelligent debate regarding immigration policy.

Thomas Kennedy is a writing fellow for the Center for Community Change Action.