Bill Clinton: Empowering the voiceless, especially women.
2008: The summer my sister and I respectively, moved away to chase our dreams.
I was moving to Los Angeles, mending a broken wing from a bad break-up, and my sister to New York for a summer internship working at the Bill Clinton Foundation.
We were both in search of a journey.
Frequently over that summer my sister would rant and rave about how meeting President Bill Clinton was so exciting. She recalls how motivating it was to hear about the work of the foundation and to hear it from him.
Those summer months would be riddled with her joy and reflection of the opportunity to be there, to run around Harlem, to live in the city for that reason, and how it was an invaluable experience that helped to shape her worldview and to be cognizant of our responsibilities as global citizens.
When I heard Clinton was coming to town for a conversation with our own President, Dr. Matson, that would moderate, I felt a spark.
I suddenly had these relapsing images of a strong woman, my sister. I thought about what 2008 meant to my sister and I, as we did what no one else in our family had done before. Move away from San Antonio in search of our dreams.
I thought about the impact that Clinton had on my sister. Throughout her internship Clinton would address the foundations’ employees by sharing insight and real world knowledge.
I thought about what an opportunity it would be to hear and see him.
Perhaps, more importantly, to be associated with the university in this capacity, and the closeness that I had to this event, I too felt it was an invaluable opportunity. A chance to learn, to grow, and to hear a man’s journey.
On the drive over to the Tobin Center in downtown San Antonio, I kept thinking of the journey of President Dr. Matson. I thought about what it meant for our university to be represented by such a visionary, who would soon be on-stage interviewing Clinton.
Behind the audible clapping, I felt a moment of internal flashback as Clinton and Dr. Matson took the stage. I vicariously shared all of the enthusiasm that my sister had experienced in 2008 when she met Clinton.
I saw Clinton smart, and he had this sort of modern-day intelligence of things.
Clinton was on tour to promote his latest novel whom he co-authored with renowned thriller writer James Patterson, “The President Is Missing.” The novel surrounds the notion of a cyber-security attack on POTUS, and explores how a fictitious event can actually become a reality if the necessary measures are not taken from the American people.
Clinton mentioned how relevant the book was in San Antonio. Our city is the second largest concentration of cyber-security firms in the country. Clinton mentioned how real of a threat cybersecurity was, and how the shape of the book proposed that awareness.
Perhaps the most notable framework that Patterson and Clinton use in their novel is the recurring theme of strong female characters. I don’t think it’s by coincidence that Clinton uses this backdrop, and in fact, I believe that these strong characters that Clinton invest in are a reflection of women in today’s society, hence, my sister, Hillary Clinton, and Dr. President Matson.
I know it might be easy to say that would never happen or that character is hard to believe to some of the characters they use in their book like the first female FBI director, or a South African woman who saves the life of the President, or even the character that goes by the pseudonym “Bach” who is a strong female assassin, who Clinton says is “in a lot of ways probably one of the most interesting characters in the book.”
Clinton said that the female assassin character is in the book to remind us that if “we have a known adversary, to never underestimate them, and always attempt to understand them.”
I think in this #MeToo and #timesup climate Clinton is empowering women in his book as a way of proving that women should be believable and never underestimated. The narrative behind what’s possible is constantly shifting and today’s women’s voices are stronger than ever.
Clinton’s new book puts the women’s voice on a platform. It raises the stakes.
As I listened to Clinton speak I saw a man humbled by his transgressions with women, weathered, and with a genuine voice working to bridge the gaps for women empowerment.
In the cracks in his voice, I could see how loving and transparent he was, like an aged leather belt he was tough and durable enough to stay relevant and influential.
Throughout the talk I kept thinking how fitting it was for Dr. Matson to be present, poised and a true reflection of the strong characters Clinton eludes to in his book. In all her most recent accolades as she sets out on her own journey, to build our university and the city around it. Matson is paving the way for other women voices.
She’s a model of a visionary person who speaks from the heart.
In a lot of ways, I saw Clinton and Matson share many similarities since both of them are pivoting around this subtext that anything is possible.
They’re getting out there and talking to people, working to understand them and create an arena for their voice. Both Clinton and Dr. Matson are leaving a legacy in their own right respectively, creating this golden path for many to come.
Clinton explains that he and Patterson are trying “to see whether an act of fiction could captivate an imagination and make people think we oughta do more on this.”
I feel like Dr. Matson is working to turn that fiction into reality. She’s striving to do it.
How humbling to be associated with Texas A&M-San Antonio and everything that the university is doing to unite the student body and our city.