I spoke to my 13 year-old daughter on the phone yesterday as I sat waiting for my plane at Sea-Tac airport. I had to figure out how to explain to her why our candidate was pulling out of the Presidential race and what it meant to us. Not that we hadn't been through something similar before; she still remembers voting for Al Gore in her elementary school's mock elections and learning that her candidate had lost in the real elections. It was a big disappointment (he had won at her school), but this year was different.
As with many families across the nation, this year's race for the Democratic nomination had become very personal. My husband supports Barack Obama and my daughter and I were backing Hillary, while the paternal grandparents are going for McCain. Over the past few months, we have found ourselves in many a family squabble over the qualifications and shortcomings of our respective candidates, so hearing that our candidate was out of the race hit us hard. It was not really a surprise. Although we were always hopeful, we knew we were fighting an uphill battle. Still, I had the feeling as I spoke to my daughter that she was waiting for me to say something to reassure her that this was not the end.
"What do we do now?" was the question she finally asked.
"We keep going. We make a little progress at a time and we keep going," I said to her. We were both talking about the same thing, not just the presidential election, which of course we will continue to participate in, but about our struggle to break through the glass ceiling. Hearing Hillary Clinton's speech in which she reassures her supporters that we have made "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" was inspirational. It was just what we needed to hear. We didn't need to hear that our candidate didn't win, nor that we now need to throw our support behind the presumptive Democratic candidate, but that our candidate and millions of her supporters still recognize that women have not only "Come a long way, baby," but still have a long way to go. Thanks to this campaign, we're a little closer and that in itself is a victory.
Putting the focus on women's issues is a victory too. Hillary was much more than a women's candidate. I truly believe she was the best qualified candidate, regardless of class, race or gender. Even my husband learned to respect her tenacity and resilience. In debates, she was focused, articulate and quick-thinking. She has inspired me. I've never seen a fighter take so many punches and still keep getting up. When I told an interviewer for CBS-TV in NY that I thought Hillary and punk music went together well because Hillary is hardcore, this is what I meant. Hillary never backed down. She took her punches like a woman, as strong and as big as Sojourner Truth. Can you imagine those two in a slam pit? Look out, all those who doubt! I am reminded of a speech Sojourner Truth made so long ago, at the Women's Convention in 1851: "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them." Now that's Hardcore!
American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music
Hillary's concession speech was even more poignant and meaningful to me because of the history I've learned recently from participating in two museum exhibitions: "Vexing: Female Voices From East L.A. Punk" at the Claremont Museum of Art (which I've written about previously) and "American Sabor: Latinos In U.S. Popular Music," currently on display at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, WA. I was invited to fly out and view the exhibit along with my friend, Teresa Covarrubias. Teresa and I also had the privilege of facilitating a class last Friday at the University of Washington. I think it was a wonderful learning experience for all concerned. As with the Vexing show, albeit on a much larger scale, I was able to immerse myself in the history of Latino musicians and artists who have contributed to popular culture and music. Many of these artists often worked in semi-obscurity and achieved minimal mainstream recognition. Others are internationally recognized.
One of the most rewarding aspects of participating in these exhibitions and symposiums for me is hearing directly from young female artists that my own music inspired them in some way. It reminds me that the real victory is sometimes not in the "winning" or in mainstream success, but is most often in the doing and in the legacy one leaves for future generations. Progress and societal change are part of a continuum. Seeing and hearing the amazing contributions of so many Latina/o artists who came before me and in many ways, paved the way for me to take chances in my own music was truly inspiring, perhaps in the same way Hillary Clinton has now inspired my own teenage daughter.
So thank you, Hillary. Thank you for fighting the good fight.