cloudy.png
Friday November 15th, 2019 11:18AM

White presidential hopefuls face 'woke litmus test' on race

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HOUSTON (AP) — 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 rhetoric 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.

He got a polarized reception from the mostly black and brown crowd of women at the She the People presidential forum on Wednesday. Sanders' initial response to how the federal government should respond to the rising threat of white nationalism was shouted down by many in the audience. And when he brought up his participation in the 1963 March on Washington, Sanders was booed by the crowd.

Democratic candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, asked recently whether she has experienced privilege as a white person, 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 acknowledgment 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, AP Online 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.
White presidential hopefuls face 'woke litmus test' on race
Race in America is being addressed directly by white candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president
9:40AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Trump threat to go to court on impeachment defies ruling
President Donald Trump says he'll go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court "if the partisan Dems" ever try to impeach him
9:34AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Teacher of the Year works with youths in juvenile detention
America's 2019 National Teacher of the Year teaches students at a juvenile detention facility in Richmond, Virginia
9:31AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump makes new threat to send soldiers to US-Mexico border
President Donald Trump is making a new threat to send armed soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border
8:45AM ( 1 hour ago )
Boeing pulls 2019 forecast, suspends buybacks
Boeing is pulling its 2019 forecast over 737 Max uncertainty and suspending its stock buybacks
8:43AM ( 1 hour ago )
UK and Irish leaders attend funeral of journalist Lyra McKee
The leaders of Britain and Ireland will join hundreds of mourners at the funeral of Lyra McKee, the young journalist shot dead during rioting in Northern Ireland last week
8:17AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
North Korea's Kim upbeat as he arrives for Putin summit
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia a day before his much-anticipated summit with President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok
5:40AM ( 4 hours ago )
For white candidates, straight talk on race becoming a must
Many white Democratic presidential candidates are speaking more candidly about systemic racism and white privilege
5:34AM ( 4 hours ago )
Castro's sluggish 2020 start tests strategy for high office
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro returns to Texas this week lagging in polls and money raised in a crowded 2020 field
5:26AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
House Democrats wrestle with White House over investigations
Struggle over House Democrats' investigations intensifies as a former White House official defies a subpoena, Treasury Department doesn't provide tax returns
8:15AM ( 1 hour ago )
Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress
Japan's government has apologized to tens of thousands of victims forcibly sterilized under the now-defunct Eugenics Protection Law and promised to pay compensation
1:48AM ( 8 hours ago )
Housing-strapped California debates density near job hubs
A controversial proposal to increase housing near transportation and job hubs faces a key test as California lawmakers search for solutions to the state's housing affordability crisis
1:19AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
California seeks compromise on rules for shootings by police
California lawmakers are seeking common ground between law enforcement and reformers intent on adopting first-in-the-nation standards designed to limit fatal shootings by police
6:49PM ( 14 hours ago )
Handful of US states are poised to legalize sports betting
Lawmakers in Montana and Iowa have approved legal sports betting, and the Indiana Legislature is expected to do so this week
6:32PM ( 15 hours ago )
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 ( 16 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
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 ( 14 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 ( 16 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 ( 16 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 ( 22 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 ( 23 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 ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
Former French PM Fillon and wife to stand corruption trial
A French judicial official says investigating judges have ordered that former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his wife stand trial on corruption charges
6:09AM ( 1 day ago )
Harris faces calls to prove her commitment to NH voters
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris faces calls to prove she's committed to winning New Hampshire voters
12:40AM ( 1 day ago )
Flores: Biden's hugging jokes 'incredibly disrespectful'
A Nevada Democrat who accused Joe Biden of touching her without permission is lashing out at the former vice president for joking about the matter
12:37AM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
The Latest: Harris: Congress should take impeachment steps
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris says she believes "Congress should take the steps towards impeachment," following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report regarding President Donald Trump
10:15PM ( 1 day ago )
2020 Democrats talk health care, free college, impeachment
2020 Democratic hopefuls take turns addressing young voters
10:05PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Sanders calls Israel's government 'racist'
Sen. Bernie Sanders is standing by his criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the goal in the Mideast must be to try to bring people together and "not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing, dare I say, racist government."
9:55PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Pete Buttigieg scrambles to turn 2020 buzz into momentum
Suddenly 'in the game,' Mayor Pete Buttigieg scrambles to harness 2020 momentum
2:49PM ( 1 day ago )
Impeach or not impeach? Dems wrestle with Mueller report
Democrats are weaving details of President Donald Trump's conduct into their 2020 election plans, but they're struggling over whether to try to actually impeach him.
1:37PM ( 1 day ago )
New Ukrainian leader's campaign took page from sitcom script
Ukrainian president-elect's positions mirror lines spoken by the teacher-turned-president he played on TV
1:16PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Trump threat to go to court on impeachment defies ruling
President Donald Trump says he'll go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court "if the partisan Dems" ever try to impeach him
9:34AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Teacher of the Year works with youths in juvenile detention
America's 2019 National Teacher of the Year teaches students at a juvenile detention facility in Richmond, Virginia
9:31AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Scottish leader aims to hold new independence vote by 2021
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon says she wants to hold a new referendum on independence from the U.K. by 2021 if Britain leaves the European Union, though she acknowledges she lacks the power to make it happen on her own
9:28AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Russia offers quick citizenship in Ukraine's separatist area
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to expedite applications for Russian citizenship by Ukrainians living in separatist-held areas
9:26AM ( 22 minutes ago )
France wants to speed up Notre Dame reconstruction work
France's government has presented a bill aimed at speeding up the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral and providing transparency on how huge amounts of donation money for the restoration will be spent
9:11AM ( 38 minutes ago )