Hillary Clinton just unveiled her new “Yaaas, Hillary” campaign shirts and we’re like, girl bye.
In a blatant use of cultural appropriation to sway Black voters, Clinton released campaign shirts with the phrase as a thinly-veiled attempt to show she’s “down.” “Yaaas,” a term that originated in Black Drag culture, has become part of the Black vernacular and so, of course, a popular White public figure has now adopted it to use for her own advantage.
Now before you jump down my throat for criticizing your favorite female politician, hear me out. Let me preface my thoughts by saying that Clinton is definitely the most compelling candidate for president for the 2016 election. Her popularity with millennial women is undeniable, and for good reason. She’s worked hard to get where she is, defying the odds which were so often stacked against her. Before her, first ladies were known for their “traditional” duties, their fashion and their cocktail parties. But Clinton redefined the game; offering political commentary and eventually establishing herself as a politician completely independent of her husband. She went from senator to secretary of state to the likely shoe-in for the first female president, all in a matter of a few short years.
Clinton has, quite simply, not always been the candidate that Black folks, specifically Black women, have needed her to be. Although she has recently been vocal about the issues like police cameras and gay marriage, we can’t forget her calculated and delayed responses to Ferguson and Trayvon Martin. Those murders launched the #BlackLivesMatter movement and we’d like to see her more vocal about her plans to impact the Black community and not simply her plans to attract young, Black voters.
Has she worked with non-profits aimed at helping Black women? Has she tapped Black female community leaders and politicians to advise her in her campaign choices? Did she even include ONE Black person in her campaign video about Brooklyn? It’s quite possible that she has, but she certainly hasn’t let the public know.
And yet, here she is, appropriating Black culture as if we are just a shoe-in for her. As if we don’t require the same support or have the same concerns for our families, our communities and our careers that our White counterparts do. She made a t-shirt with one of our popular phrases, snapped a pic of it (on a non-Black person, by the way) and we’re supposed to jump for joy and fall at her feet?
The bottom line is that Hillary is banking on that fact that her husband was SO popular with Black folks that we’ll all just run to the ballot box and vote for her. But you have to earn our vote and you’re not going to get it simply by joining in on the popular slang of the time.
Look, we’re not out here acting like politicians won’t occasionally let us down. As much as we love the Obamas and as much as our votes put him in office, President Obama has, more than once, disappointed us in his response to issues.
As Jada Pinkett-Smith recently expressed in a Facebook post about the election, we are excited for Clinton. And yet our apprehension trumps that excitement. Who is here for us if Clinton is our best hope — our ONLY hope — and this is the best she can do?
Then you can sell the Yaaas, Hillary shirts.
We might even buy one.