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Pete Buttigieg is the embodiment of white privilege – and black voters know it | Benjamin Dixon | Opinion


One of my favorite church deacons at a ministry I attended in Boynton Beach, Florida, decided one Sunday that he would run for mayor. “Deac”, as we all affectionately referred to him, had already served many years as vice-mayor and city commissioner, so it was no surprise when he won the mayorship.

Deac was best known for singing old gospel songs with the growl of a blues singer and the whoop of a baptist preacher. To me, he was far more a beloved, black church dignitary than he was a politician. Nevertheless, my church deacon is more qualified to serve as president of the United States than former mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Political pundits and media outlets are scrambling to try to understand how it is that Buttigieg could have 0% support among black primary voters. I would offer the following:

First, ask any black person across the south and they’ll likely say the same thing: Buttigieg has less experience in office than our local church deacons – yet he is being propped up to be the next president , above equally educated and far more qualified politicians such as Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

Black Americans understand one simple, albeit unfortunate, truth: we have to be twice as good as white men in order to earn half as much as they are given in this life.

So far, the Democratic primaries have been a case in point. Harris and Booker – who have equal or greater levels of education than Buttigieg, with far more experience – were quickly ushered out of the presidential race. Buttigieg not only remains on the stage, he stands a chance of winning.

Being more qualified than a white candidate only to be routinely passed over is all too familiar for black men and women across the country.

Second, Buttigieg’s disposition towards the black people of South Bend, Indiana, sticks in our minds. We took notice when he smugly told a black woman who was protesting the death of Eric Logan: “I’m not asking for your vote.”

It was at this moment that black observers knew that Buttigieg had never spent any significant amount of time in the black community because any one of us could have warned him that the sister’s reaction to his condescension would be delivered with the intensity of a mother infuriated by the routine killing of black men by police.

“You ain’t goin’ get it either,” she replied with the timing of a professional comedian.

That moment sticks with us.

Third, as a black progressive, I make no apologies for being fiercely opposed to Buttigieg’s candidacy. His policies largely protect the status quo, yet he claims that they will lead to the “the most progressive presidency of our lifetime”.

How can this be, when his healthcare plan will leave millions exposed to the for-profit predation of insurance executives? When he attacks Medicare for All – a plan that will disproportionately help black Americans, who face life-threatening health disparities?

How can this be, when Buttigieg opposes college for all by arguing that we shouldn’t pay tuition for the rich? By his own admission, he defines “rich” as anyone making more than $100,000 a year. College for all is another plan that will disproportionately help black families who are in poverty as well as those stuck in the middle-class crunch. This bad-faith argument reeks of disingenuousness.

Black voters – black women in particular – are the backbone of the Democratic party, and all of us have spoken. We do not support Buttigieg.

It’s not because he is gay, despite some claims that that’s the reason. It’s the fact that his team would have the gall to float this insidious and divisive narrative in some ill-conceived plan to shame us into supporting him.

It’s not the fact that he’s young. It’s the fact that he has yet to develop the temperament to hold the office.

It’s not the fact that he’s white. It’s the fact that, to many of us, he is the embodiment of white privilege – someone afforded the opportunity to hold the most powerful office in the world when he has less experience in office than our local church deacon.

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