On Tuesday we linked to a story by The Root journalist Michael Harriot that had caused the hashtag “#PeteButtigiegisaLyingMF’ to trend all day on Twitter.
Harriot’s article criticized Buttigieg for a statement he made when he was running for mayor of South Bend, Indiana in 2011.
Said Buttigieg: “Kids need to see evidence that education is going to work for them. You’re motivated because you believe that at the end of your education, there is a reward; there’s a stable life; there’s a job. And there are a lot of kids—especially [in] the lower-income, minority neighborhoods, who literally just haven’t seen it work. There isn’t someone who they know personally who testifies to the value of education.”
Wrote Harriot: “This is not just a lie of omission, it is a dangerous precedent. This is why institutional inequality persists. Not because of white hoods and racial slurs. It is because this insidious double-talk erases the problem by camouflaging it. Because it is painted as a problem of black lethargy and not white apathy.”
Harriot’s article went viral on Twitter, attached to the aforementioned hashtag, and late yesterday, Harriot posted another piece after he was phoned by Mayor Pete.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been called a ‘lying motherf**ker’ before,” said Buttigieg, who spoke to Harriot for more than 20 minutes.
They found things to agree upon, said Harriot: “I conceded that the problems with institutional racism are so complex and go back so far that I’m not sure that anyone—a mayor, a governor or even a president—could fix them. Buttigieg, however, insisted that there are some things that people in power could do to make things more equal, a point I actually agreed with.”
And Harriot laid out some of the fears of black voters: “Here’s why black voters support black candidates. When you go into a room and sit around a table of white men, we are worried that this is what will happen; that a roomful of white people will talk about role models and confidence and crime and no one in the room will say: ‘Hold up, we can’t talk about any of this without talking about racism. We can’t talk about education without talking about discrimination.’ That is our fear.”
Added Harriot: “He is not the perfect candidate nor will there be one. But this does not mean the Democratic Party is divided. The entire point of the primary process is for voters to dictate their concerns to the candidates and for candidates to learn from voters. Black America wants their party to emerge victorious but not if we have to offer our votes as a living sacrifice for the sake of “party unity.” What good is a white savior if he doesn’t save us? And, as I told the mayor, the article wasn’t meant to inspire outrage. Its purpose was to make a necessary point about black voters and real issues. There is no way that I can know if he is genuinely interested in engaging black voters, attacking discrimination or crossing the racial divide. There are an infinite number of candidates who have waded into black barbershops or sashayed into black pulpits to assure us that they were on our side when they were only interested in our vote. I am not smart or prescient enough to tell the difference. The only thing I actually know about Pete Buttigieg is that he is a white man. But Pete Buttigieg listened, which is all you can ask a white man to do. Unless, of course, he wants to fight.”