“We talk a lot about Hillary Clinton’s gender. Donald Trump has one too,” said Joe Fischel, professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, to an audience of over 50 Yale students, professors and New Haven residents on Wednesday evening.
The WGSS program sponsored a public discussion, co-hosted with the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration, about intersectionality in the 2016 election in William L. Harkness Hall. The discussion was moderated by Inderpal Grewal, the chair of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Yale, and featured a panel of five Yale professors with expertise in the spheres of gender, race and philosophy.
The speakers endorsed Clinton and discussed her presentation in the media as “the lesser of two evils.” Each professor discussed issues of race and gender in the upcoming election from their respective academic backgrounds.
WGSS professor and Co-Chair of the Women’s Faculty Forum Laura Wexler, who identified herself as an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter, opened the discussion by showing the audience various internet images of Clinton, many unflattering. She spoke about the struggle Clinton faces as a woman representing herself as a capable president of the United States.
Chris Lebron, a professor of African American Studies and philosophy, said there is a “decency problem” in the United States. He spoke about the recent shooting of Terrence Crutcher, a 40-year-old African-American man, by police officers and said that Crutcher is one of hundreds of black people who have fallen victim to police violence. Lebron said he was not sure that either of the candidates represents decency, but said Trump is not decent man in the least.
“His main ambition is to put a wall between another nation of brown people and us … [he] thinks the golden age was before blacks had rights,” Lebron said of Trump.
Among his criticisms of Trump was that the candidate has few ideas and that those he does have always come at the cost of diminishing another person or group. Lebron also said Trump has no experience in politics. He warned that Trump could roll back decades of social progress and questioned what it means to live in a nation where 44 percent of citizens, including citizens of color, support Trump.
Ethnicity, Race and Migration and American Studies professor Albert Laguna spoke about the false stereotypes that surround Latino voters, including that they are all left-leaning and that they care primarily about immigration as a political issue. Laguna said viewing Latinos as though they are all new arrivals to the United States erases Latino history.
Students in attendance said they came in part because they had heard of the professors on the panel and wanted to hear their thoughts on the election.
Shoshana Davidoff-Gore ’17 said she was interested in the way the election has been gendered and wanted a more in-depth academic perspective on why that might be and what it might imply for Clinton’s potential presidency.
Correction, Sept. 22: A previous version of this article did not identify the WGSS program as a co-host of the public discussion. It also mischaracterized the speakers’ comments on Hillary Clinton’s presentation in the media.