“Thanks so much for all of your help,” Hillary Rodham Clinton said backstage at the inaugural Teen Vogue Summit on Saturday morning. As she posed for a photo with a large group of police officers at 72 and Sunny’s Playa Vista campus in Los Angeles, Clinton told the photographer, “This is a very important group. Take a good picture.” The former Secretary of State and presidential candidate had just completed the opening keynote conversation with activist and “Black-ish” actress Yara Shahidi.
While the question-and-answer session lasted 40 minutes, it took less than seven for the discussion to shift toward the previous night’s vote on tax reform. “In the last 24 hours, the Senate passed this absolutely horrible tax-cut plan,” Clinton said, as the crowd booed in support of her sentiment. “It’s great for Donald Trump and his family. It’s great for the billionaires who support him, but it’s going to make life much harder for middle-class families and poor families. It even cuts the tax deduction for teachers who buy supplies for their classrooms and their students.”
Clinton urged the teenage crowd to get out and vote in next year’s midterm election. “Make no mistake that the current administration and their allies in Congress want to undo a lot of [our country’s] progress. This is not just some abstract civic engagement. This is a burning house,” Clinton said, referencing James Baldwin’s book “The Fire Next Time.” “Now hopefully, the fire is not that big yet and there still is a lot of time to put it out, but it will only be put out by people standing up and claiming their rights, claiming their values again, and voting.
“We’re facing a concerted effort to turn back progress,” she continued. “Let’s just be very clear about this. This is a well-funded, ideological and very mean-spirited campaign to strip away rights that have been won by people over the last 50, 60 years.” Clinton later added, “We have a chance to stop this mean-spirited effort to undermine our rights and set our progress back. But it won’t happen if people don’t turn out and vote.”
Fittingly, on Wednesday, Shahidi is launching a philanthropic initiative called “18 by 18,” targeted toward next year’s midterm election, which Clinton seemed to support.
The women also discussed Clinton’s role model Marian Wright Edelman as well how Clinton felt following last year’s infamous debate in which then-candidate Trump loomed behind her. “I thought I have to be really calm here,” she remembered. “He stalked and he loomed over me and made faces. Everything if you watched you saw in real time. But I maintained my composure. Afterward, I thought about that, ‘What would have happened if I had spun around and said, ‘You love to intimidate women, but back up you creep!’” The crowd cheered. “It would have been really satisfying.”
Other summit speakers included Rowan Blanchard, Amandla Stenberg, Ava DuVernay, Chelsea Handler and Teen Vogue’s editor in chief Elaine Welteroth. Activations featured custom pins by Los Angeles illustrators Xoana Herrera and Amelia Giller, a chance to customize Juicy Couture tracksuits, Philosophy product samples and an Urban Outfitters booth with totes bearing slogans like “resist the gaslight.”