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MAKER Salamishah Tillet Shares With ELLE: "I'm With Her, Finally!"

In her debut piece for ELLE magazine, scholar, activist, and writer Salamishah Tillet offered her perspective on African American women and Hillary Clinton. The Hollywood issue is on stands now with 8 covers (Helen Mirren, Lupita, Aja Naomi King, Kirsten Stewart, and several others).

Read her feature below and head to ELLE.com to learn more about why Tillet is 'finally with her.'

For Years, the Way Hillary Clinton Talked About Race Bothered Me. Here's How I Made My Peace. I'm with her ― finally! 

Pundits often explained the black electorate's devotion to Hillary as Clinton brand loyalty. But Bill arrived on the presidential scene in 1992 backed by a narrative of deep familiarity with African American life —a shared Southern history with black people, friendships with civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson and Vernon Jordan, and, most memorably perhaps, his performance of "black cool" on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1992: wearing black sunglasses and blowing out soulful renditions of "Heartbreak Hotel" and "God Bless the Child" on the sax. Near the end of his term, Bill had been so effectively linked to African Americans that Toni Morrison famously dubbed him "our first black President" in 1998.

Partly because Hillary grew up in racially homogenous suburban Chicago and partly because she reads as a nerdy white woman, she's never been able to, shall I say, appropriate "black cool" — or, for that matter, been victimized by stereotypes like her husband was when, during his impeachment hearings, he was treated "like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp," as [Toni] Morrison put it.

Instead, Hillary has had to assiduously craft her own coming-of-age narrative with African Americans. "Some call her a policy wonk," Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee told a crowd of 100 black women last February at a fundraiser. "But I will tell you — she is a sister." The surprise, perhaps, has been how convincingly Clinton has highlighted a biography of intimacy with black women, of indebtedness to them." 

Warmly, Salamishah

Read her full essay here, and watch her exclusive MAKERS story in the video player above.

NEXT: Watch Salamishah Tillet's MAKERS Story Produced By Reel Works »

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