White Americans “can’t be defensive” when talking about race, according to Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“I think the challenge for white America is to realize that we can’t be defensive about this,” said the 2020 Democratic hopeful, while speaking to CBS News on Sunday.
“When somebody is saying that we are benefitting from living in a system that creates privileges associated with systemic racism, we can’t kind of retreat into this idea that, ‘We’re being personally attacked, so we’re not going to want to talk about that.’ Or that, ‘Hey these were distant historic problems, we can’t be held accountable for dealing with that.’ No,” Buttigieg explained. “The force that has come closest across American history to actually ending America was white supremacy. That was the Civil War. And I am worried that in different ways we may not be able to imagine, in the 21st century, if these inequalities keep getting worse, then that could once again threaten to unravel the American project.”
According to Buttigieg, “the levels of inequality we’re seeing — much of it driven by racial inequality — are something that very few countries can survive intact.”
“We’ve got to have this conversation because time’s running out,” he said. “The reality is we can’t separate the chaos of our politics, the division, the wrongfulness coming from the White House but also through our communities from all the pernicious effects of systemic racism. As long as this is two different countries for people of different races, which, if you look at the statistics on things from life expectancy to income to experiences, even for the exact same offense with the criminal justice system, it really is like two countries.”
Buttigieg spoke about a number of issues during his sit-down with CBS News on Sunday.
Asked about President Trump’s “go back to your country” tweet that he aimed at the group of female Democratic lawmakers known as “the Squad,” Buttigieg said: “It’s wrong, it’s racist and it fundamentally misunderstands America.”
“One of the reasons we set up this country, one of the things we celebrate in freedom and democracy of the United States is you can criticize your president. You can criticize the ways in which the country falls short of its values,” Buttigieg added. “And that makes you more, not less, loyal to this country whether we’re talking about naturalized citizens or many of the people he was talking about who were born right here in the US. When you become a citizen, you are an American and questioning somebody’s Americanness because they disagree with you — is about one of the most un-American things I can think of.”
Author: Chris Perez