fogn.png
Monday December 9th, 2019 9:31PM

White presidential candidates face 'woke litmus test'

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

After touring the National Lynching Memorial recently, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke of the "shame" he felt that some white people "kind of looked the other way during these lynching incidents."

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas has acknowledged he "clearly had advantages" as a white man. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has said that any struggle she faced as a single mom was much more challenging for black women. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio has talked about not knowing many black people when he was growing up. And Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, recently said , "Any white candidate needs to show a level of consciousness around issues like white privilege."

Such candor surrounding race is becoming what Democratic strategist Joel Payne called a "woke litmus test" for any white person who wants to win the Democratic presidential nomination. In a field celebrated for its historic racial and gender diversity, white candidates are talking about systemic racism and white privilege to connect with voters of color and prove that America's racial divisions aren't lost on them.

"All candidates, especially nonethnic minority candidates, need to be fluent in the issues that matter most to black America — police brutality, criminal justice reform, reparations, social justice," said Payne, an alumnus of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

White presidential candidates are among the contenders who will have another chance to connect with voters of color on Wednesday at the She the People forum in Houston. The event, which is focused on women of color, includes O'Rourke, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont as speakers.

There are clear risks to Democrats who embrace talk of white privilege. Candidates could lose the moderate white men who live in suburbs and whose support will be necessary to defeat President Donald Trump. Republicans, including Trump, often blast Democrats for playing into "identity politics" when they talk about race.

Joe Biden's presidential bid, which is expected to launch on Thursday, could test whether it's politically wise for candidates to speak so openly about race. Although he has positioned himself as a champion of racial equality, the former vice president is expected to wage a campaign aimed at winning back the working-class white voters who swung to Trump in 2016.

Given his decades in public life, Biden faces unique vulnerabilities on race that he will have to address early on in his campaign. He will likely face questions about his opposition to busing during the desegregation era. And he will face scrutiny for his role in Supreme Court confirmation hearings that undermined Anita Hill's credibility nearly three decades ago along with his support of the 1994 crime bill that contributed to the racial disparities in prison sentencing at the center of the mass incarceration debate.

Not all candidates have talked so personally about race. Sanders, who struggled to win black voters in 2016, hasn't talked in depth about whether he has been treated better by society because he's a white man.

Asked recently whether she has experienced privilege as a white person, Democratic candidate Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said, "I guess I don't see it that way." The U.S. senator from New York acknowledged persistent gender and racial bias. But pointing to her legislative accomplishments, she said, "A lot of that success was actually because I'm a woman."

"I have great skills and listening, of finding common ground, of bringing people together," she said. "I think those are some of my superpowers."

Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons cautioned white candidates against "overdoing" talk about privilege and identity. But he said those who are turned off by such rhetoric "are probably not reliable voters for Democrats" in a general election.

The conversations about white privilege are an acknowledgement of the role black voters will play in the Democratic primary next year. For one, the primary features several candidates of color, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and former Obama Cabinet secretary Julián Castro. Each of them will make hard pitches to diverse voters and are also attending She the People.

The large size of the Democratic field and the way the primaries will unfold could also put voters of color in a more powerful position. After majority-white states Iowa and New Hampshire vote next year, the contest will swiftly move to more diverse places like Nevada, South Carolina, California, Texas and Georgia.

In a recent interview, Buttigieg said being "pro-racial justice should not be skin off the back of any white voter."

"There's certainly an environment where sometimes these ideas are pitted against each other, where it's suggested, for example, that connecting with white working-class voters somehow means that you have to walk away from our commitment to racial justice — but our commitment to racial justice is part of the bedrock of the moral authority of the Democratic Party," Buttigieg said.

But when asked whether he had experienced white privilege, he said that "part of privilege is not being very conscious of it, right?"

He added: "You're much more conscious when you're at a disadvantage than ... when you are on the beneficial side of a bias. But there's no question that that's a factor that has impacted people in many different ways."

Rashad Robinson, executive director of the online civil rights organization Color of Change, said candidates must go further than being comfortable discussing white identity. They must be able to translate privilege into policies that address inequality, he said.

"I don't need you simply talking about these issues," said Robinson, who has talked to several 2020 Democrats. "I need you using your power to act on them. That, for me, is going to be the measure and the test."

___

Whack is The Associated Press' national writer on race and ethnicity. Follow her work on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/emarvelous.

___

Associated Press writer Alexandra Jaffe in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Julián Castro is finally running but fighting to get noticed
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro returns to Texas this week lagging in polls and money raised in a crowded 2020 field
12:21AM ( 4 minutes ago )
White presidential candidates face 'woke litmus test'
Many white Democratic presidential candidates are speaking more candidly about systemic racism and white privilege
12:20AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Leaders of Hong Kong pro-democracy protests sentenced
A court in Hong Kong handed down prison sentences of up to 16 months to eight leaders of massive 2014 pro-democracy protests after they were convicted last month of public nuisance offenses
12:17AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
No bond for veteran suspected in N. Korea embassy attack
Prosecutors allege a U.S Marine veteran was part of a group wielding machetes and fake guns when they stormed North Korea's embassy in Madrid and tied up and beat officials inside
11:22PM ( 1 hour ago )
Migrants fearful after hundreds arrested in Mexico raid
Central American migrants traveling through southern Mexico toward the U.S. are fearfully recounting a frantic escape from police after hundreds were detained in a raid
11:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
US judge in Oregon to block new Trump abortion policy
A federal judge in Oregon says he intends to block a rule change by President Donald Trump's administration that could cut off federal funding for providers who refer patients for an abortion
11:02PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
S&P 500, Nasdaq close at record highs as earnings roll in
The S&P 500 closed at an all-time high Tuesday, marking the stock market's complete recovery from a nosedive at the end of last year
7:54PM ( 4 hours ago )
North Korea's Kim on way to Russia to meet Putin on Thursday
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is on his way to Russia for a much-anticipated summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin
7:30PM ( 4 hours ago )
Writings on gender issues magnify scrutiny of Trump Fed pick
Additional writings on gender issues heighten scrutiny of Stephen Moore, Trump pick for the Fed
7:15PM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Tension emerges between Congress, 2020 Dems on impeachment
Some top Democrats vying for the White House in 2020 are clamoring for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, but many of their congressional colleagues are far more wary
5:25PM ( 7 hours ago )
Dem donors swoon, and sometimes fight, over Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg is suddenly the hottest ticket for Democratic donors in the 2020 presidential contest
5:11PM ( 7 hours ago )
Egypt voters approve referendum extending president's rule
Election officials say voters in Egypt approved constitutional amendments allowing President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to remain in power until 2030
5:10PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Elections
Harris adds to endorsements in early-voting South Carolina
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is adding to her list of African American endorsements in South Carolina, the first test of the black vote in next year's primary elections
11:01AM ( 13 hours ago )
Flores says Biden's jokes about touching are 'disrespectful'
A woman who accuses former Vice President Joe Biden of touching her without permission says it's no laughing matter and is criticizing Biden for making jokes about it
10:05AM ( 14 hours ago )
The Latest: Buttigieg: It's clear Trump deserves impeachment
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg says that while President Donald Trump may deserve the impeachment that some in his party are calling for following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report, he'd leave that up to Congress
7:15AM ( 17 hours ago )
General Presidential Election News
Julián Castro is finally running but fighting to get noticed
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro returns to Texas this week lagging in polls and money raised in a crowded 2020 field
12:21AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Murray scored 23 in Nuggets' 108-90 romp of Spurs
Jamal Murray leads six Denver Nuggets in double figure scoring with 23 points and the Denver Nuggets beat the San Antonio Spurts 108-90 in Game 5 of their playoff series
12:02AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Death toll rises to 359 in Sri Lanka bombings, more arrested
Police say the death toll in the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 359 and more suspects have been arrested
11:44PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Kings coach Luke Walton accused of sex assault in lawsuit
A former sports reporter who is suing Luke Walton for sexual assault says the new Sacramento Kings coach held her down, kissed and groped her in a hotel room, then laughed at her
11:36PM ( 49 minutes ago )
No bond for veteran suspected in N. Korea embassy attack
Prosecutors allege a U.S Marine veteran was part of a group wielding machetes and fake guns when they stormed North Korea's embassy in Madrid and tied up and beat officials inside
11:22PM ( 1 hour ago )