Hillary Clinton's phoney feminism excludes migrant women of colour

Hillary Clinton's phoney feminism excludes migrant women of colour
Comment: More than anyone else, women of colour need secure immigration policies. Hillary Clinton has failed them, writes Monique Bouffé.
5 min read
27 Nov, 2018
'It's a #MeToo world, apparently, but not if you're an immigrant' writes Bouffé [Getty]
Many of us watched Hillary Clinton's concession speech on 9 November 2016 with teary eyes.

Take away politics for a second; this was really just another example of a competent woman being trampled on by an incompetent man, leaving a trail of sexual violence, racist attacks, and fake tan in his wake.

For a moment, we forgot that she condoned her husband's actions with a 24-year old intern and refused to comment on women in his office reporting sexual abuse.

Hillary Clinton took on one of the most deplorable humans of our time in the most public race in the world, and sorely lost. Her election defeat made her a feminist icon in the eyes of many. Letters of solidarity were sent, memoirs were bought, and a global empathy was felt.

Not anymore.

On Thursday, The Guardian published an interview with Hillary Clinton in which she stated that "Europe should curb immigration." She "admired" the "generous and compassionate approaches" (is that what we are calling this now?) that were taken by leaders such as Merkel, but thought, ultimately: "Europe has done its part."

In a sentence, Hillary demonstrated that ultimately, her idea of equality extends only so far as is politically expedient.

Hillary Clinton made a huge achievement: The first woman to run for the White House. But she was privileged to be able to, and that on its own isn't enough for us to embrace her.

Well done, Hillary, you made women of colour invisible once again, even though 94 percent of us voted for you in the 2016 election

We have to hold all our leaders and icons to a higher standard. It probably didn't occur to her that making this statement was a thoroughly un-feminist thing to do: Most likely, she just forgot about us.

"Europe has done its part" - the hand of the white saviour, reaching out, scattering generosity among the poor, ignorant black people to its own detriment - like a bad joke, the narrative repeats itself again and again, in our politics, our war remembrance, our history books.

Forget current conflicts are caused by European powers carving up the Middle East with rulers on a map; that Europeans have been flitting around war-torn countries for decades earning salaries that few dare dream of; that without immigrants, European countries would not have adequately staffed healthcare, schools, or governments.

Forget that European countries have taken in fewer refugees now than ever; during World War I, Britain welcomed 250,000 refugees from Belgium; in the wake of the conflict in Syria, the UK has accepted around 11,000 Syrians. Forget this: We need to curb immigration.

Any statement about curbing immigration in Europe means one thing: Keep the black and brown people out.

Black people includes black women. The feminist movement needs to intersectional; it needs to include, and prioritise, the rights of the most vulnerable women, and that includes women of colour.

If any politician defines themselves as a feminist, it doesn't occur in a vacuum; their ideas and policies need to take into account the needs of women. And more than anyone else, women of colour need secure immigration policies for our livelihood and our safety.

Women of colour are consistently excluded from rights movements; and when radical change is achieved, it is always white women first, black women some other time.

But immigration policy is not abstract to us; it impacts our healthcare, our education, and our right to work.

If you are seeking asylum, you cannot work to support your family; if you are on a spousal visa, you are less likely to flee domestic violence and more likely to be murdered. We live in a small world with big walls, and if you don't have secure immigration status, everything else is like water, slipping through your fingers.

When Hillary Clinton says we should "curb immigration", she is condoning Trump's wall and his caging of children. She means that we should prioritise political strategy over empathy. This does not curb the far right; it absolves it.

Hillary demonstrated that ultimately, her idea of equality extends only so far as is politically expedient

And ultimately, she tells those women of colour who consider the feminist movement exclusionary that they are right.

There is no place for us, when our fundamental rights can be pulled out from under our feet by fellow "feminists" who feel like pawning them away in a political move.

Well done, Hillary; you made women of colour invisible once again - even though 94 percent of us voted for you in the 2016 election; higher than any other group. Without us, you wouldn't have had the support even for a post-defeat book tour.

"Time's up." Every woman gets a say. We live in a world where all women in the feminist movement can be buddies, united by our experiences of abusive men. It's a #MeToo world, apparently, but not if you are an immigrant.

When Hillary Clinton says we should 'curb immigration', she is condoning Trump's wall

If you are an immigrant, Europe has done enough for you, and now you need to put up with your lot in life, regardless of whether you are killed by your male partner or exploited for sex work; regardless of the fact that you are skilled, fierce, and valuable. You are not welcome here.

It is time for the feminist movement to wave goodbye to Hillary Clinton, if she will not be feminist for all of us, equally.

Just like the Europe for the immigrants, we must say: Hillary, we have done enough for you. You are not welcome here.

Monique Bouffé is a legal scholar and advocate with a focus on Public International Law.

She has worked with asylum seekers and refugees in Egypt and is currently working with vulnerable and gang affected young people in London. Her work focuses on the impact of European immigration policy on the current refugee crisis.

Follow her on Twitter: @moniquebouffe

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.