Amy Klobuchar is a white woman who will always have an active stake in white supremacy, as all white women do.
By Gloria Oladipo
In typical white women fashion, presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar is profiting off of Black oppression for her own personal gain. News broke earlier this month that Klobuchar had accepted donations from Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor in the “Central Park Five” case. Despite very public records of Fairstein’s crimes and her unwillingness to accept accountability, Klobuchar accepted a donation from her in March of 2019. She has since returned the gift after reports came out, but gave a pathetic response (“The campaign shouldn’t have accepted this contribution and we’re returning it”) with no acknowledgment of Fairstein’s past.
Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us provided an epic depiction of the proceeding and the vile tactics Fairstein used during the “Central Park Five” investigation and case: moving forward with prosecution despite a lack of forensic evidence, using coerced confessions from terrorized Black children, among other things. Moreover, despite the convictions for all five defendants being overturned, Fairstein has continued to use her clout from the case for professional gain. Since overseeing the investigation and trial, Fairstein was awarded Glamour Magazine’s 1993 “Woman of the Year” (they have since challenged this honor), published numerous books, and served on the board of prestigious organizations, including Vassar College, her alma mater.
This isn’t the first time that Klobuchar has used Black suffering as a political or professional tool; her whole campaign is built on rallying voters around a delusion of criminal justice “reform” whilst creating distance from her anti-Black past. Before becoming a senator, Klobuchar worked as a prosecutor, damning people to prison for a variety of “crimes.” Early in her political career, Klobuchar was a huge proponent of “tough on crime” policies that disproportionately incarcerated Black and brown people and ruined communities. Moreover, while serving as a county attorney, Klobuchar was unresponsive to constituents asking her to prosecute police-involved shootings; she instead allowed the cases to go through the widely criticized process of a grand jury. Now, while running for president, she has yet to answer for her professional past; she instead touts her co-sponsorship of the harmful, luke-warm First Step Act as redemption for her previous actions. Amy Klobuchar is parasitic, being actively harmful towards Black communities while simultaneously acting like our savior.
This Democratic race has been full of white people using Black suffering for political advantage. Obvious examples include Joe Biden’s legacy of anti-Black rhetoric and policy while also bragging about having support from a Black, woman senator and Michael Bloomberg’s claim that “Stop and Frisk” was to stop the killing of Black and brown men. Despite a litany of evidence demonstrating their anti-Blackness, white politicians evade accountability, either lying about the circumstances of their violent behavior or trying to “prove” they are cool with Black people.
Klobuchar follows this same pattern given her prosecutorial and political history; the only difference is that Klobuchar uses her white womanhood to evade responsibility for her actions. Notice the number of times that Klobuchar references her gender within the debates to boost belief in her own capability as president. Notice the numerous op-eds positioning Klobuchar as a political underdog because she is one of the two women remaining in the race. One from the New York Times titled “Warren and Klobuchar Teach the Boys a Lesson” celebrate Klobuchar’s “victory” in the debate despite the “challenges” she faces being a white woman in the campaign. Another op-ed from the New York Times titled “The Word Female Presidential Candidates Have Been Hearing Over and Over” described how often Klobuchar has to confront the idea of electability (poor thing). To some extent, it is important to confront the misogyny within our political systems, but over empathizing with Klobuchar (or any other candidate) ignores the oppressive actions of their past, present, and future.
The issue is that Klobuchar isn’t just a woman. Amy Klobuchar is a white woman. Amy Klobuchar is a white woman who will always have an active stake in white supremacy, as all white women do. During pre-antebellum periods, despite patriarchal stereotypes, white women were slave owners and used Black people for economic investment and anti-Black cruelty. White women were active in keeping Jim Crow alive in the United States. White women constantly use police officers as their personal security guards. A majority of white women voted for Trump. Being a woman doesn’t make your white supremacy go away; being a woman makes your white supremacy appear more nuanced, more gentle, more empathetic, but guess what? It still exists.
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I’m not surprised Amy Klobuchar accepted support from Linda Fairstein. I’m not surprised that Klobuchar gave it back. In an attempt to appear more “progressive” than she can ever hope to be, Klobuchar tried to hide what she had done. Klobuchar, knowing what she was anti-Black, tried to “apologize” and appear changed. However, Klobuchar or any racist candidate isn’t interested in making things right. She’s interested in image. She’s interested in looking changed. She’s interested in looking sorry. Thankfully, after being tugged around in every election and having a collection of broken promises made to us, Black people know better. Ms. Klobuchar, keep the money, don’t keep the money, cry crocodile tears or do whatever. We already know who you are.
Gloria Oladipo is a Black woman who is a sophomore at Cornell University and a permanent resident of Chicago, IL. She enjoys reading and writing on all things race, gender, mental health, and more. Follow her on Instagram at @glorels.