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Feminists speak out on race and gender in the 2008 presidential campaign.
Who should be first? With Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as frontrunners, the 2008 Democratic primary campaign was a watershed moment in U.S. history. Offering the choice of an African American man or a white woman as the next Democratic candidate for president, the primary marked an unprecedented moment—but one that painfully echoed previous struggles for progressive change that pitted race and gender against each other. Who Should Be First? collects key feminist voices that challenge the instances of racism and sexism during the presidential campaign season, offer personal reflections on this historic moment, and trace the historic legacy of opposing issues of race and gender that informed debates and media representations of the 2008 Democratic primary. Over thirty leading feminists contribute to the book, including Patricia J. Williams, Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, Carol Moseley Braun, Maureen Dowd, Katha Pollitt, Pearl Cleage, Robin Morgan, Erica Jong, Mark Anthony Neal, and M. Jacqui Alexander. Editors Beverly Guy-Sheftall and Johnnetta Betsch Cole deftly balance these charged conversations in the first collection on this key moment in contemporary U.S. history.
“…a valuable compilation of earnest, contemporary reactions to the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and to the campaigns they waged.” — Women’s Review of Books
“…a contemporaneous record of a riveting rhetorical battle, especially among the feminists, over the preeminence of race or gender. Guy-Sheftall and Cole’s compilation of the perspectives of journalists, professors, public intellectuals, students and bloggers—including such influential voices as Gloria Steinem, Katha Pollitt and Mark Anthony Neal—has captured the mood of this momentous event.” — Ms. Magazine
“While the media colored the 2008 campaign between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination as one of race vs. gender, feminists like Guy-Sheftall and Cole saw the nuances of this pivotal moment … Balanced by contributions from supporters of both Obama and Clinton who are black and white, male and female, the collection brings to light the errors in binary thinking so prevalent in politics, and unavoidable in the American two-party system.” — Publishers Weekly
“This anthology of brilliant essays and reflections captures the passion and raw emotion of the 2008 dialogue about race, gender, and generational diversity among feminists. It furthers an important conversation about what it means to be a feminist in the twenty-first century.” — Wilma Mankiller, author of Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women
“Guy-Sheftall and Cole have performed an invaluable service. This is a timely and riveting compendium of perspectives on the most important election of our times. A must-read for anyone interested in how U.S. politics intersects with race and gender.” — Alison Bernstein, coauthor of Melting Pots and Rainbow Nations: Conversations about Difference in the United States and South Africa
Beverly Guy-Sheftall is Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and Founding Director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College. Johnnetta Betsch Coleis President Emerita of Spelman College and Bennett College for Women. The authors of several books, together they have written Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities and coedited (with Rudolph P. Byrd) I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde.
Table of Contents
Introduction Beverly Guy-Sheftall and Johnnetta Betsch Cole
I. Editorials, Opinions, and Petitions
1. Feminists for Peace and Barack Obama Frances Anderson, Carolyn Eisenberg, Marlene Fried, Linda Gordon, Judith LeBlanc, Nancy Kricorian, and Eliza Migdal
2. Feminists for Clinton Christine Stansell
3. Stop the False Race–Gender Divide Ann Russo and Melissa Spatz
4. Morning in America: A Letter from Feminists on the Election Patricia J. Williams
5. Duel of Historical Guilts Maureen Dowd
6. It’s Not as Simple as White Trumping Black or Man
Trumping Woman Patricia J. Williams
7. Sex Versus Race, Again Tracy A. Thomas
8. Obama and the Sisters Melissa Harris-Lacewell
II. Personal Reflections: Having Our Say
9. Lest We Forget: An Open Letter to My Sisters Who Are Brave Alice Walker
10. Culture Trumps Politics and Gender Trumps Race 53 Carol Moseley Braun
11. What Would Shirley Chisholm Say? Mark Anthony Neal
12. Voting for the Girl: Some Thoughts on Sisterhood and Citizenship Pearl Cleage
13. The Sisterhood Split Jessica Valenti
14. Hillary Versus the Patriarchy Erica Jong
15. Hillary Is White Zillah Eisenstein
16. Your Whiteness Is Showing 85 Tim Wise
17. Black and for Hillary Tara Roberts
18. Why I Support Obama Andrea Guerrero
19. Daughters of the South, Rise Up: On Generation, Gender, and Race in the 2008 Democratic Election Cassie Premo Steele
20. Generation Y Refuses Race-Gender Dichotomy Courtney E. Martin
21. Why I’m Supporting Barack Obama Katha Pollitt
22. The Obama Feminists: Why Young Women Are Supporting
Obama Ariel Garfinkel
23. Yo Mamma Linda Hirshman
24. Feminists Must Heal the Wounds of Racism Aishah Shahidah Simmons
III. Essays: Making Our Case 119
25. Crises of Representation: Hate Messages in Campaign 2008 Commercial Paraphernalia Jane Caputi
26. Goodbye to All That #2 Robin Morgan
27. Race to the Bottom Betsy Reed
28. Intersectionality: Race and Gender in the 2008 Presidential
Nomination Campaign Dianne M. Pinderhughes
29. Does Race Trump Gender?: Black Women Negotiating their Spaces of Intersection in the 2008 Presidential Campaign Cynthia Neal Spence
30. The Generation Gap: Graduate Students and Democratic Primaries Spring 2008 A. Lynn Bolles
31. Michelle Obama On My Mind Arica L. Coleman
IV. Post-Election: What We Learned
32. Why We Need to Stop Obsessing Over Obama Andrea Smith
33. Learning from a Year of Hope and Hard Choices Gloria Steinem
34. Reading Obama: Collective Responsibilities and the Politics of Tears M. Jacqui Alexander, Gail Lewis, and Gloria Wekker