There are uncomfortable moments that, if you’re Black person or a person of color, you may have picked up on during this debate.
This will read off as a checklist of what transpired during the debate that is an example of whiteness and/or racism. From ignoring or downplaying our polar opposite lived experiences in this country, to using convicting Black people as a shield for holding police accountable. Some will be explained, some will not because those who refuse to see it will not be swayed by an explanation here. This may not cover all of it because this is through one person’s eyes and can only be seen through the history of one person’s experience.
- Pete Buttigieg, in his opening speech, talks about the unity that we had after 9/11. Who is we? Because Americans who were Muslim were harassed, attacked and viewed as terrorists almost immediately after. So are they not considered Americans or are we ignoring that part of our history?
- Bernie Sanders, in his opening speech, labels trump the “most dangerous president in the history of this country”. Most dangerous to whom? There was a lot that occurred under other presidents, such as slavery, segregation, redlining, mass incarceration. All these existed before trump. These statements make the issue appear that trump is also targeting groups outside of the marginalized. He is just one man. The danger is the people, politicians, and the wealthy who support him.
- Bernie Sanders then states we are moving into an “oligarchic form of society”. Sigh. An oligarchy is when a small group of people have control of a country, organization, or institution. When hasn’t this been the case in the United States? The wealthy, white and powerful have always consolidated power amongst themselves and maintain it through: bribery — that’s campaign donations for some of you, scapegoating, racial rhetoric to keep the poor competing against each other, redrawing districts, electoral college, racist policing that funnels thousands into prison and strips them of their rights — like their right to vote — and so on.
- Joe Biden, in his opening speech, says there’s never been a time in the United States, that “we’ve set our mind to something that we’ve been not able to do it”. That clearly shows where Black people and people of color stand. No surprise to most of us that those in positions of power and privilege, like Joe Biden, overlook what we have gone through for generations and have chosen to do next to nothing to lessen inequities.
- There was little to no discussion about the difference in quality of healthcare that white people and non-white people, especially expecting Black women with 3 times the mortality rate of their white counterparts, receive. Maybe some were waiting for the question of race and, while this is a race issue, it’s also a healthcare issue. How is care and treatment going to be improved for those of us who are not white? If nothing changes there will be little difference between ACA expansion or Medicare for All in that regard; both are a crapshoot. Yes there was talk of this on a previous debate stage but if they can talk about their healthcare plans again, they can also talk about what they plan to do to address the quality inequity. But why wasn’t this important enough for them to bring up a second time?
- Pete Buttigieg implying that Julian Castro’s valid question, directed at Joe Biden denying what he had just said, is why “presidential debates are becoming unwatchable” and others (like Amy Klobuchar) agree with him. He decries that we take “potshots at each other” conveniently forgetting his earlier shot at Bernie Sanders’ “damn bill”. Whiteness never sees what they do, only what we do.
- “A house divided cannot stand”. While Amy Klobuchar’s statement has truth this idiom does not address where that divide comes from nor is right to label Castro as the problem. She also amnesia about her earlier potshot at Bernie Sanders that while he didn’t read his own bill, she did.
- Beto O’Rourke states there’s a “white supremacist in the White House”. There were plenty of racist presidents and presidents who pushed racist policies before trump’s conception. Hate is incited not just by the White House, mainstream media also plays an important part in stoking the flames that consume us all. Every facet of this nation plays a part, not just white supremacists. Silence is complicity and for many in this country that has been their resting state. This president is a symptom of the threat that is Racism.
- Amy Klobuchar, when asked about her record of not prosecuting police who killed Black men, said she’s proud of the work they did and points out how she helped bring justice to people who died from gang violence. While someone who kills a child should be jailed, her response to “why didn’t you get justice for these Black men who were murdered by cops” is “I jailed Black men”. So you only get justice for Black lives when it’s non-police Black people killing Black people?
- Joe Biden consistently uses Obama, our Black president, to try to win over various communities citing Obama choosing him and the work he and Obama did. However, when anything is brought up that is negative, he then throws it at Obama’s feet. Similar to the Black friend, family member, acquaintance, lawyer, mailman that many white people trot out as proof they are not being racist.
- The discussion on immigration, while it is important to counter trump and the Right’s claim that immigrants from particular countries are criminals and rapists, we should also add more than just the benefit immigrants bring to our economy.
- Almost all of the candidates went over time significantly when particular moderators asked the questions and were managing the time, Jorge Ramos and Linsey Davis. Joe Biden even went so far as to tell Linsey Davis that everyone else went over their allotted time so he would do the same.
- Joe Biden says poor families need to learn how to raise their kids because they don’t know what to do. Is there a particular group of poor families he is thinking of with this statement? Also, this implies that bringing up your children “right” has to do with wealth and little else.
After the debate the majority of the negative comments had to do with Kamala Harris and Julian Castro.
One of the most annoying comments regarding Kamala Harris is that she rehearsed her answers.
Meghan acts like no other candidate rehearsed. Half of these candidates, when they don’t have an answer to a question swerve into a prepared spiel. But of course, Meghan McCain only notices that the sole Black woman on the stage has rehearsed.
Julian Castro is being attacked for calling out Joe Biden because Joe Biden said that people who lose their employment “can automatically buy in” to public health care then denied he said that and Julian Castro asked if he forgot. It’s a fair question. Most of us would ask, “did you forget what you just said?” Some of us would take it further and ask, “are you lying?”
This is also the problem with media because, according to politifact, Castro is in the wrong because although some would have to opt-in, there’s little difference between opting in or opting out.
That still does not make Castro wrong because Biden’s phrase “you can automatically buy in” does imply a choice. This is also racism and whiteness because people are willing to give Biden the benefit of the doubt and a “well we know what he really meant” while crucifying Castro for taking his words at face value.
There is an attack, but it’s not against Joe Biden. It’s against Julian Castro. It’s against Kamala Harris. It’s against every Black person and person of color who gets a violent label branded to their chest for calling out what a white person has said or done. We are seen as aggressors, yet Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden were yelling the most throughout the debate.
Guess they’re just passionate.