Geraldine Ferraro: Victim of Racism?

Former Vice Presidential candidate and major fundraiser for Senator Hillary Clinton, Geraldine Ferraro claims she is a victim of racism. First, in an interview with the Daily Breeze, Ferraro commented that:

“I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama’s campaign – to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against,” she said. “For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It’s been a very sexist media. Some just don’t like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign.

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” she continued. “And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”

First of all, the comment that if “he was a woman (of any color) he wouldn’t be in this position” makes no sense because he is RUNNING AGAINST A WHITE WOMAN! I do think it is much harder for a democratic/progressive woman of color to get far in a presidential campaign (Shirley Chisolm or Carol Mosely Braun for example) but this “gender trumps race” shit that Ferraro and Steinem have helped to promote speak to the most deep-seated bitterness of the white women’s movement toward people of color, and their complete inability to have a nuanced analysis of both how sexism can be at play AT THE SAME TIME that racism is also at play.

I was prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt, though. OK I wasn’t. But I thought maybe she had some larger point about Obama being tokenized by the party or voters to say “racism is over.” That’s a conversation I think is relevant. But Ferraro doesn’t say that. She shows just how racist she is by later defending her comments to CNN by saying

“Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says, ‘Let’s address reality and the problems we’re facing in this world,’ you’re accused of being racist, so you have to shut up,” she told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, California. “Racism works in two different directions. I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?”

Yes. Geraldine Ferraro. A victim of reverse racism.

Give me a fucking break.

24 thoughts on “Geraldine Ferraro: Victim of Racism?

  1. You know, Kenyon, this is the latest in a series of media moments where the general (white) public could be forced to grapple with their either/or mentality. Think Gloria Steinem’s diatribe; think that piece written from the black women’s beauty shop in South Carolina (we call it “the hairdresser” where I’m from), in which the journalist said that black women were being forced to choose between their race or their gender. (Well, the writer said “sex,” but we knew what was intended.)
    Like I said, it’s an interesting, teachable media moment. Damn, this is starting to sound like an essay waiting to happen… Home Girls? This Bridge Called My Back? I wonder if Ferrarro ever read ’em–read ’em and understood ’em. For that matter, Billary. And Steinem. And… sigh.

  2. I’m trying not to read too much into any of these comments, be they made by Ferraro, Steinem, etc. Why? Because as much as they are aiming at Americans’ many bad societal habits…it’s all politics. Things said and done in a play for power. Who knows if they mean it or not? Does it matter? Hillary would only call Ferraro’s comments ‘unfortunate.’ Whereas Barack fired the adviser who called HRC a ‘monster.’ That tells me more than any comment – their actions, not their clearly staged words.

    And please write about Barack as a tokenization! A bunch of my friends and I had a discussion about this at a dinner party a couple of weeks ago.

  3. I always knew I disliked Ferraro. Her most recent comment is true to form – and just yet another example of how white people revel in being white until someone Black gets a toe on the ladder up to success. The real motivation: How to prevent the Black person (and any others) from climbing any higher? (Full disclosure: I am white.)

  4. “I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?”

    ick.

  5. kenyon, during your 3am blog, i noted that i doubted hillary was racist or her ad had racist undertones, but if these are the people she’s getting her money from, it gives ALOT of weight to that arguement. you’re probably right about her.

  6. Those words are clear proof that Blacks are considered invited guests by the Ferraro-wing of the Democratic party. We have no right to compete, even when we compete fairly and in an unprecedented grassroots fashion.

    We as a group of people who have formed the foundation for countless numbers of victories by white, female and male, Democratic politicians, including Ferraro. We who as a group have been stubbornly supportive Democrats even oftentimes against our own self-interests (welfare reform, affirmative action compromise, the war, lack sufficient HIV/AIDS funding for Black communities, etc.).

    Yes, this group, us, we, y’all, you who reading this blog, should know that when white men leave the room, it’s white women who get first dibs.

    That’s what the Ferraro-wing of the Democratic Party’s logic boils down to.

    Honestly I’m more interested in how this all is going to resolve between the two campaigns than anything else. Hillary can win *only* if her campaign trumps the voter’s will with backroom deals and superdelegates.

    How then will the majority of the Democrats who voted for Barack Obama respond to their voices been shut out? And what about the super-majority of Blacks who voted for their man? Will Barack Obama be able to calm the masses of ***90% of Black America*** who voted for him? Will we sit out this election out of protest? Will we do like engaged Latin American voters have done in the recent past and simply vote “no” to all electoral options?

    Post November 2008, how will our participation change, if at all? Clearly those in power will try to stay hold on to their power. But what will the voters say? Will black communities elect less coons and more progressive boons and 3rd party politicians? Or will Blacks be so disillusioned that in a Post 2008 world, voter participation will be so morale-less that the status quo prevails.

    Ferraro’s words might help Clinton rally her base now, but I’m not so sure democratic love will last for too much longer.

  7. I think Steinem’s comments are most troubling; and I have great respect for her past work. They are correct to point out sexism that has surfaced in this campaign. However, as Kenyon points out they are working the “gender trumps race” angle and are doing it by ignoring the blatantly racist tactics the Clinton campaign has used – particularly Bill’s comments here in SC. Atlanta mayor Shriley Franklin rightly called him on it with him sitting in the audience at Ebenezer Baptist (I believe)! But why hasn’t Steinem pointed that out also? Her often astute analyses fall apart when she willfully ignores the workings of racism and white supremacy going on at the same time. Robin Morgan’s essay “Good-bye to all that Part II” documents very well the misogyny in the campaing but then turns around and does the same sort of oppression comparisons that kills the important points she was making.
    NPR’s Farai Chideya spoke with Steinem yesterday on News and Notes and with Kimberle Crenshaw from Columbia Univ who wrote a response to Steinem’s piece. They also debated on Democracy Now a couple of weeks ago. Check those out.
    For a more reasoned and thoughtful approach to all of this, check out Katha Pollitt’s last few columns in The Nation, including “The Weepy Witch & the Secret Muslim” and her statement on why she is supporting Obama.

    All is not lost — Kucinich won his primary and Cynthia McKinney is running for president!

  8. ugh gah blech

    i think it’s completely f’ed up how ferraro invokes a “tokenizing” or fetishizing account of race & racism in order to set-up her own oppression as a woman. like Ben said, it’s definitely about power, but i dont think that means the comments or the logic behind them are irrelevant. but it might mean that the logic used by ferraro (and many others) is hard to follow and digest, because it’s — well schizophrenic, right?

    for ferraro, “racism” works two-wyas while “misogyny” works only one-way and the result is that in this grab-bag of social oppression, ferraro represents the so-called “winner”. this is obviously a terrible way to think about oppression and its effects on real life, but the narrative of individual victimhood (and subsequent redemption) is strong enough in the U.S. to make it simply irr-resistable for some, esp if you’re intentions are murky or you’re trying to attract negative attention. whether she knows it or not, i think ferraro was tryin to do just that. it’s easier to attract negative attention than to form cogent thoughts about something you dont really have a very good understnading of, and can be very effective in campaigns.

    also, because ferraro says that people are caught up in the concept of obama — by which i guess she means, the idea of a black man for prez — race and esp blackness take on for her a kind of other-worldly quality. the result is that to “address reality” and to focus on “real issues” end up getting you accused of being racist. as if to say, there are no “real” issues pertinent to Bllack folks. what?

  9. Pingback: And The Please Shut The F**k Up Award Goes To…Geraldine Ferraro « Pop Gumbo

  10. These are the people Hilary has backing her? You’ve got to be kidding me. She and Hilary are whiney babies who bitch and moan when they dont get their way.

    Here’s a clue: if you are so concerned about sexism trumping racism how about you not make women look bad by losing gracefully.

    Also reason #450,768 why women of color were (and continue to be) weary of joining the (white) feminist movement…

  11. …and here I thought that HRC was being “tokenized” – that the ‘powers that be’ would rather a white woman, than a white man, lose to a black man in a presidential campaign. (tongue-in-cheek)

    Truth be told Geraldine Ferraro, and her politico sorority, are victims of racism. The ironic comedy of it all is that they are victims of their own racism. They are victims of themselves and ‘courageously’ utilize their self-inflicted victim status to invoke their empowerments and podiums. We are not the wide-eyed sniveling dummy children that seem to be bred from the broad-brushing statistics that blanket over our society(ies). We are not the characters of a Mark Twain drama and “Huckleberry Finn” is not our surrogate Constitution. In fact, we are real people with real lives and real thoughts; and all quite capable of separating our individual quirks from the needs of the whole.

    In short, people like Geraldine need to invest less time in giving racism so much power over their lives as she has done with hers. She, they, need to stop living in the fantasy of ‘deserved privilege’ and instead open themselves to the reality of earning one’s worth – the reality that states, ‘I am not obligated to turn your lemons into lemonade. That’s your job. I am only responsible to pay for a glass of it should I choose to drink of it.’

  12. I came home yesterday to find my (white, overthehill, female) roommates loudly agreeing with Geraldine’s statements!

    I was stunned… but maybe I shouldn’t have been. I don’t want to lose all hope in white feminists…….

  13. I’m a white female myself but its all bullshit I pay no mind to. I can’t stand Hillary Clinton and her shit now add Ferraro to that list. I have never considered myself a feminist and most of that movement is clueless anyways. A woman using these kind of campaign tactics is very disturbing in my view. Clinton whines because she isn’t winning.

    I voted for Obama in the caucus and primary and so forth I’m voting Obama!!!

  14. i’m with katiya on this, i just hope enough people don’t fall for hillary’s tactics, i want to be able to vote for obama.

  15. I don’t agree with Ferraro ‘s comments or ever playing the “oppression olympics” as far as shouting about who is more marginalized than the other. However, as a woman of color I do think that it is far less acceptable to be an open racist in this soceity than to be a hysterical misogynist.

    I’m truly shocked at the amount of young women who don’t identify as feminists, womanists, (see above) or with women at all b/c if a person of color were to say “I don’t identify with civil rights” I think we’d all look at them like they had lost their damn mind and rightly so.

    By disavowing feminism wholly b/c of a couple remarks from people we don’t agree with we forget that there have been several black, hispanic and azn women in the practical and theoretical fight for gender equality and all that that entails. You actually reinscribe a gender vs. race dichotomy where there shouldn’t be one. And women are using the same rhetoric to diss Hilary — she is whiny, emotional, etc. — that men use to invalidate women and whites use to invalidate people of color! There are legitimate reasons to not be down with Hilary, which is why I’m voting for Obama, but stick to them.

  16. Perhaps more and more women (of all ages) are beginning to wake up and acknowledge the very sobering reality that feminism and “civil rights” are not one and the same thing.

    Feminism embraces “civil rights” as a tool and utilizes it as such. However, “civil rights” is not the only tool of feminism.

    “Civil Rights” is a mechanism all of its own.

    More women are beginning to realize that they do not have to be a feminist to be a woman or to be themselves; they only need to be themselves to be a woman.

  17. Who says that you have to be a feminist to be a woman? No one ever thought this.

    Similarly, you don’t have to support policies that help the black community to be black, but there are words for that that we are quick to apply to people like Clarence Thomas and you know what they are. To identify as feminist in any of its incarnations (including womanist as defined by black feminists) to me means to stand in solidarity with other women about issues that effect us as women – women of color, queer women, and trans women. I suspect young women and men who don’t identify with feminism do so b/c they’ve bought into right wing alarmist spin about scary, angry women than any coherent arguments against it.

    Point blank: for all of its faults the feminist movement is the reason why women have access to higher positions in their career, maternity leave, contraception, the right to choose, etc. Have these gains beeen meted out equally across the class/race divide? hell no. But why throw out the baby with the bathwater? This world is neither post-feminist or post-racial and by dismissing a whole wing of the struggle, how are things going to get better?

  18. The point is made quite clearly with these two inferences made by you:

    a) Either you are a feminist or you are against “civil rights”
    b) Either you are a feminist or you are a right wing alarmist

    Both of these conclusions are false propagandas of the feminism ideal. Such fallacies are part of the things that more and more people are waking up and realizing.

    Furthermore, you make the claim that feminism is responsible for “the reason why women have access to higher positions in their career, maternity leave, contraception, the right to choose, etc.” Again, this is false propaganda of the feminism ideal. What is responsible for those things were People who adopted and utilized the mechanism of “Civil Rights”. This includes feminists and people with thoughts and motivations outside of and different than the feminism ideal.

    No, you do not have to be a feminist to be a supporter of “Civil Rights”. You do not have to be a feminist to be a woman; you can be a woman, a supporter of “Civil Rights” and not a feminist or a ‘feminst identifier’.

    Yes, more and more people are realizing this, and that should be okay. It should be okay for a woman to be a woman without having to be held to an obligation of any identity, and that most definitely includes a feminist identity. Once a person is held to an obligation of identity they are being threatened to the loss of their independence. How is a threat against independence not an oppression? How is the expectation of obligation to a specific identity not an oppression?

    You ask: “But why throw out the baby with the bathwater?”

    The answer: There is no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is no need to keep the bathwater to keep the baby. There is the need, however, to keep the baby and throw out the bathwater.

  19. robyn:
    I’m not saying I don’t identify with feminists, my mother more or less raised me as one; I’m just tired of so many feminists up in arms for Hillary like she’s the second coming or that I’m turning my back on the sisterhood by voting for a man. It’s not that I don’t want a woman running this country; I think it would be great; it’s that I don’t want this woman running it. (I was agreeing on the Ferraro bull and how I want Obama to be the democratic candidate, should of been more clear?)

  20. uh, ok I admit that I just don’t understand alot of your post Mr. Banks but I’ll respond to a couple of things.

    “a) Either you are a feminist or you are against “civil rights”
    b) Either you are a feminist or you are a right wing alarmist”

    I did not set up that binary at all. It’s misstating my argument. Although, yes, I do think that many people aren’t feminist identified b/c they’ve internalized the rhetoric against it.

    “Furthermore, you make the claim that feminism is responsible for “the reason why women have access to higher positions in their career, maternity leave, contraception, the right to choose, etc.” Again, this is false propaganda of the feminism ideal. What is responsible for those things were People who adopted and utilized the mechanism of “Civil Rights”.

    Please explain what we are defining as Civil Rights other than an all encompassing explanation of any organizing that is progressive b/c I’m specifically talking about the 60s civil rights movement which often excluded or marginalized women’s issues and queer issues. It was women identified as feminists and/or queer activists — some of which who were also involved in racial activism — that made these strides. I’m not painting an overly rosy picture of second wave feminism, I’m completely aware of its white, middle-class woman centered shortcomings.

    It should be okay for a woman to be a woman without having to be held to an obligation of any identity, and that most definitely includes a feminist identity. Once a person is held to an obligation of identity they are being threatened to the loss of their independence.

    So then, it would be the same if a person of color didn’t identify as a person of color or even with POC issues on a policy level? I’m not asking for hard-core doctrinal adherence to the tenets of feminism but young women in particular seem all to ready to disavow the ongoing struggle for equality. What I find peculiar is how readily women are encouraged to do this and how utterly whack we all think it is when at person of color makes a point to be anti- civil rights movement gains.

  21. BTW I realized that by calling you “Mr. Banks”, it sounded snarky but I completely didn’t mean it that way. Honestly. It just that I didn’t want to use your first name b/c it sounds presumptuous of me since we don’t know each other…

  22. Robyn,

    I feel that the “comments” area was not intended as a forum for debate and worry that Mr. Farrow might not appreciate such an activity within his blog. As such, I hope that you can understand and not feel slighted that I am deciding to respectfully not continue with a debate. If Mr. Farrow informs us otherwise, then I would happily proceed.

    In respect to your contribution and in the hopes of not leaving this as a ‘cliff-hanger’, of sorts, I would like to go ahead and close, for now, with the following:

    To my quote, “It should be okay for a woman to be a woman without having to be held to an obligation of any identity, and that most definitely includes a feminist identity. Once a person is held to an obligation of identity they are being threatened to the loss of their independence.”

    You responded, “So then, it would be the same if a person of color didn’t identify as a person of color or even with POC issues on a policy level?”

    Here again you example my point of the fallacy that is the propaganda of feminism ideal. You declare that a person of color denying their color is the same as a woman denying feminism. This is a fallacy, and an extreme one at that. Here is why: For that declaration to be true, the only way it can be true, would be if feminism is to womanhood what skin color is to skin color. Skin color is a biological element, feminism, however, is not a biological element.

    I am a black man because the color of my skin is black. My very identity contains the fact that my skin color is black. It is impossible for me to not identify as a person of color. However, even as a person of color I still have the choice and independence to decide ‘how I think’, ‘what I feel’ and discover/develop ‘who I am’. Even though I am a person of color I am not obligated to a color-ism lifestyle. Even though I am black, I am not obligated to be a Baptist, nor should I be expected to be one. Even though I am black, I am not obligated to volunteer my time to the NAACP, nor should it be an expectation. Even though I am black, I am not obligated to move to the ‘hood’ so I can be legit. Neither am I obligated to play basketball, run real fast, join a gang, speak with a particular slang or even be pissed that my ancestors were slaves. All of those are available choices for me, but they are not obligations I must adhere to simply because of the color of my skin.

    Even though I identify as a person of color, I am not, and rightfully should not be, obligated as to WHO I must be as that person of color.

    A woman is a woman because her gender is female. Feminism is an ideology, it is not another word for “gender”. Feminist identity is a choice; it is not a biological fact, nor is it a mandate of the feminine gender. Feminism did not create women and so it does not own womanhood. Feminists seem to have forgotten how to understand that. More and more free-thinking women, however, are waking up to that very realization – the realization that nobody owns them, not even feminism. They are waking up to the realization that freedom means freedom and that any threat to that freedom is a choice they don’t have to make.

    You were wondering at why more and more young women are not identifying as feminists. Well, that is why. It is because they don’t have to and, rightfully so, shouldn’t have to. They are asserting their independence and choosing something different. Good for them.

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