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Hillary Clinton: up close

By Kai El'Zabar/NNPA/The Chicago Defender
On July 6, 2016

Image from Hillary Clinton's Youtube channel.

Hillary Clinton came to Chicago on her Midwest campaign jaunt to address the Women's International Luncheon at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition 45th Annual Convention. Afterward, The Chicago Defender got up close and personal with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to get greater insight into her vision for a better America.

"I have an old-fashioned belief that if you run for president, you should tell people what you're going to do," Clinton said as she revved up. "Listen, the next president of the United States can have the opportunity to select one, two, three Supreme Court justices … and we don't want that president to be Donald Trump."

Backstage at the luncheon, Clinton said that she has a personal commitment to working with the Black press and all local press; however, she has noticed, in particular, the assumption of some in various parts of the country where she has traveled that it is assumed that the Black press will show up.

"And that's not always the case, so we want to make sure that we make the effort to reach out, and not only during the campaign, but even in the White House," said Clinton. "I see the Black press playing an active role in getting our message out directly to its readers, participating in the various activities such as today's luncheon, and making sure that it has access as well as being included in the advertising buy."

Clinton has made it clear that she will continue the initiatives that President Barack Obama implemented and work to enhance affordable health care. She credits the president with saving America from another depression, having inherited the worst financial crisis in American history since the Great Depression. And he's done so much more that he is not given credit for, she said, and she plans to continue support of those efforts of great concern.

When asked about the underserved communities (Black, Brown, LBGT, etc.), Clinton said she has plans to address the issues that pertain to each, and one can actually go to her website and read exactly what her vision is. However, she provided insight and began, "First of all we need more good jobs with rising incomes, because we're just not seeing enough of them. There aren't enough employment opportunities in Chicago's underserved communities."

It's clear that Clinton recognizes the disparities that plague the marginalized.

Clinton says she wants to make jobs available first. Second, education. She is adamant that young children be better prepared to go to school and supported throughout so they will be successful.

"There are a lot of ways we can do that. I am committed to working with communities, churches and educational systems to try to figure out how." But it's clear that she gets the comprehension thread that makes it all work.

"But parents and grandparents have to be supported in doing the most important job of raising the next generation of children, and we need to do all that we can to see to it that we do that," she said.

Clinton spoke to her vision to re-create "schools that people believe in, that they are passionate about, and we have that in a lot of places and I know that you don't have that in Chicago."

"We need diversionary programs so that we're not suspending and expelling 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-year-old kids who are acting out," she said. "We have a terrible disciplinary divide where kids who are either having problems or are just acting like normal kids being suspended if they're African-American or Latino and White kids doing the same thing aren't."

She paused and continued, "That starts the whole cradle-to-prison pipeline."

In her effort to end the cradle-to-prison pipeline, Clinton envisions doing more to intervene in helping the little kids be successful, which would include after school support intervention programs.

"We just need a big wraparound, 'it takes a village to raise a child'-attitude about how we're going to help our kids," she said.

For the older youth, she recognizes that there is no place for teenagers to direct their energies and how easy it is for them to be misdirected, often leading to gang affiliation or some other form of violence of destructive behavior.

"I have to confess I am heartbroken over the level of violence in Chicago," she said. "I worry a lot about this. I was born in Chicago."

And what will she do about the overpolicing in Black communities and the high level of violence? Clinton says there are several problems that have to be addressed.

"I am interested in making sure that we have policing that is respectful and effective, because what I've heard from talking to a lot of people, elected officials, business people [and] activists here is that you don't have the policing you need and you're not able to feel protected and respected," she said. "I feel that is what our goal has to be.

Regarding the gun-control issue and the associated violence, Clinton speaks passionately: "It's a civil rights issue and I will do everything I can: legislation, regulation, litigation because I think we have veered off the track. We are intimidated by, controlled by and directed by the gun lobby in Washington. Members of Congress are scared to death, governors and state legislatures are scared to death, and why? Because the gun lobby represents a dedicated focused group of voters. And they will make anybody who doesn't vote with them pay the price."

Further, Clinton says that she wants to see how to assist minorities and women in starting their own businesses. But women are the fastest creators of business startups, "so I want to see how we can help improve the process, to get faster credit, helping them to get the support they need, to understand to write a business plan, how to deal with the stress of being a business owner.

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