There’s a lot of talk about how McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, is energizing conservative voters, but the real “base” that she energizes is white women (
photo credit: GrodsCorp ). And, it’s very likely that white women will be the ones to decide this election. While many news analysts continue to adhere to the facile equation of race versus gender (rather than race and gender), and interpret white women’s embrace of Palin as a symbol of “true womanhood,” even feminism, what such analyses leave out is the racism of white women. The racism of white women like Sarah Palin herself. Writing at the LA Progressive, Charley James reports that Alaskan citizens who know Palin well say she is “racist, sexist, vindictive, and mean.” According to a James’ interview with a local resident who served Palin breakfast shortly after an Obama victory over Hilary Rodham Clinton, Palin said:
“So Sambo beat the bitch!”
Charming. Yet, as Adia so deftly pointed out here, because Palin and the McCain campaign are hiding behind protestations of “sexism in the media” Palin isn’t subjected to any hard-hitting questions about this statement, or any of her views on race, racism, or racial inequality (or anything else, for that matter). That’s a wise move from the campaign’s perspective, because I don’t think it would be long before this sort of invective would escape Palin’s lips. Even setting aside Palin’s overt racism (as some will inevitably call it an “aberration” and/or deny that she ever said it), her rhetoric of being a “hockey mom” and a “pitbull with lipstick,” is a rhetorical – and political – strategy that excludes women of color from the conversation. As Maegan la Mala eloquently writes as Vivir Latino (hat tip to Maria Niles):
Palin positions herself as continuing Clinton’s struggle, as continuing the struggle set forth by Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run as a vice-presidential candidate. Let’s not forget that Ferraro called Obama “lucky” for being black. Is Palin then lucky for having five children, like my abuela did before being forcibly sterilized? You wanna talk about Palin’s uterus or the uterus of her daughter? I want to talk about my abuela’s uterus, how it’s power was deemed dangerous because of it’s power to bear brown Spanish speaking babies, my uterus and it’s abortions, miscarriages, and pregnancies, violations upon it, the uterus of an immigrant woman being viewed as a weapon in a culture war and the need to put those immigrant women in chains as they push babies from them and the need the U.S. government has to separate mamis and babies and deport and dispose.
My uterus and my head is tired.
Unfortunately, this is a lesson that white liberal feminists fail to get over centuries of opportunities to learn this lesson: there is nothing incompatible about racism and white feminism. In fact, they go together quite seamlessly. Will racism pick the next president? You betcha. And it’ll be the racism of white women leading the way.