Leaked emails from Wikileaks have revealed some interesting information, specifically an email exchange between several of Clinton’s top campaign staffers regarding the Democratic presidential hopeful’s July 2015 speech before the National Urban League. This exchange seems to show three top staffers agreeing that not only should the phrase “white privilege” be removed from Clinton’s speech, but that the Clinton campaign appears to have been completely uncomfortable with the term. The Daily Caller discovered the conversation first.
“Will be interesting to see if HRC keeps the line below in,” wrote campaign pollster John Anzalone, referring to a line about people who benefit from “a lifetime of white privilege.” He continued, “made me a bit uncomfortable but that is probably the point. The term ‘white privilege’ could have press implications,” Anzalone concludes.
Further along in the conversation, media advisor Jim Margolis also has negative feelings about the term “white privilege that mirror those of Anzalone. “[I] just want to express nervousness on the phrase white privilege,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Karen Finney, a spokesperson for Clinton’s campaign, thought it best to eliminate the phrase completely, asserting that, “I don’t think she needs to say white privilege.”
Unsurprisingly, when Clinton gave this particular speech, she did not use the phrase “white privilege.” However, given that the National Urban League is a non-profit organization dedicated to the civil rights and economic assurance of Black Americans, it is odd that her staffers were so adamant that she not use this phrase: The members of the organization are fighting against such institutions as white privilege and Black exclusion in order to benefit Black people, so it does not seem like something that would have caused a stir with that particular crowd.
It seems that the phrase was removed because it made white people uncomfortable more than any other reason.
Indeed, it seems the Clinton campaign has an issue with succumbing to their white fragility, as more of the leaked emails reveal.
An email thread from January of this year contained the transcript of an interview that Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza had done with the New York Radio Hour. Garza asserted that Clinton was condescending and dismissive when she spoke with the Black Lives Matter activists in August of 2015, telling them that she needed to concentrate on policy, rather than changing social opinion.
“No change in this country has ever happened merely by changing laws and it was disappointing, quite frankly, to hear former Secretary Clinton use that language because certainly an accurate view of history shows us that we are always in a dialectical relationship between changing culture, or changing hearts, and changing policy and that if we don’t do one the other one doesn’t happen … I also was really disappointed that she used, what I thought, was a fantastic opportunity to sit and really build w
ith young Black activists, who had come specifically to share their concerns with her — that she used that opportunity to almost shun them,” Garza said in the interview. “I’m not going to vote for Hillary Clinton. That’s where my stance is. And I’m not voting for any Republicans.”
In response to the interview, which included the above quotes from Garza, a Clinton campaign staffer, domestic policy adviser Sara Solow, had just one word in response: “yuck.”
Between the Clinton campaign’s discomfort with Clinton saying “white privilege” to explain a very real phenomenon in front of like-minded individuals, and the disgusted response of a Black Lives Matter activist describing her experience and feeling dismissed, it seems the Clinton campaign may have some explaining to do.