A Vote of Allegiance?

DeNeen L. Brown writes in The Washington Post, “The ‘isms’ have once again been pitted against each other. Sexism or racism — which ism is deepest? All things being equal, should a woman or a black man be lifted to the presidency? Which ‘first’ is the imperative first?” In the article, NOW President Kim Gandy says, “I think people are still thinking about racism and sexism because they still exist,” she says. “I wouldn’t call it a dichotomy. The camps are quite diverse. There are African American women who support Hillary Clinton and white women who support Barack Obama. The campaigns crossed those racial and gender lines.” To the question of which ism has the greater burden to overcome, Gandy says, “I say that is unknowable. Having never experienced racism, I couldn’t express an opinion about that.” She says the greater burden depends on experience and perspective. “To suggest there is a competition between racism and sexism is delightful to people who would see us divided from each other,” she says. “Until we as a country recognize the intersection of those isms and the terrible damage they do, we will not be as great as we could be as a nation.” Latifa Lyles, vice president of membership of NOW, says sexism is a huge problem in the country, a learned behavior that doesn’t seem to provoke as much outrage. “I am an African American woman,” Lyles says. “There is not a day when I don’t think of both.” Overt racism is less prominent, she says. “In my experience, I am more likely to see some kind of sexist incident than a racist incident. Because of the prevalence, people become more desensitized to it. If someone says something more overtly racist, I would have a much stronger reaction to it because I’m not used to hearing overtly racist comments.”