Once a self-proclaimed Hillary Clinton skeptic, Michael Eric Dyson is now feeling optimistic about the the presidential candidate's ability to positively impact black America.
Dyson joined HuffPost Live on Tuesday and explained how white privilege will help Clinton further the interests of black Americans, should she win the presidency come 2016.
In "Yes She Can," Dyson's latest piece for The New Republic, the Georgetown professor details Clinton's journey on racial issues and predicts that, despite her husband's problematic legacy on race -- exemplified by his crime and welfare reform policies -- Clinton will have the chance to push change in ways that eluded Obama. Dyson argued that Clinton, free from the stigma of blackness and the potential for perceived bias, would be able to speak more freely on issues of race than Obama ever could.
"She won't have to make apologies in advance, a priori, [and say], 'It's not about black people...'" Dyson said. "Hillary Clinton doesn't bear that guilt, doesn't bear that consciousness, doesn't bear that kind of charge to be made: 'Hey, you're trying to hook up your people!' Well, black people are not her people, but she's able, as a result of white privilege, to speak to the interests of black people in ways that were denied to Barack Obama."
As Dyson explained, "sometimes President Obama didn't have permission to be black in public," which Dyson believes caused Obama's initial reticence to take a leadership role on race.
"I'm not suggesting that Barack Obama give the 'black power' sign and start quoting Kendrick Lamar, although I'd like to see him quote Kendrick Lamar," Dyson said. "He could say, 'I believe in targeted policy that directs its interests towards those who are most needy.' In this case, the most vulnerable happen to be African American people."
Dyson also compared Clinton to her Democratic competitor Bernie Sanders, whose legacy on civil rights issues and commitment to economic equality could make him a viable option for some black voters. Although Dyson admires the Vermont senator, he said he thinks Clinton has a better chance of making it all the way to the White House.
"I love Bernie Sanders. I admire him quite greatly, and I think he's an extraordinary politician. Whether or not he can win is another story. I think Hillary Clinton possesses enough of the cache that is critical. And at the end of the day, who is in the game?" he asked.
With Clinton leading in the polls amongst Democrats, progressives have an opportunity to mold her stance on race issues, he added.
"Should [Bernie] become a nominee, I think he would carry us forward in a powerful way," Dyson said. "I just simply believe that too much of the momentum has swung in the direction of Hillary Clinton, and the ability now to push her in a positive direction when it comes to race is something we should do."
Watch Michael Eric Dyson's full conversation with HuffPost Live here.
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