When the topic turned to race and criminal justice in Wednesday night’s second Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) took a refreshing step: she leaned into her white privilege, and explained how to use it to educate other white Americans, some of whom voted for President Donald Trump.
The senator from New York said that the two black candidates on stage—Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)—shouldn’t be the only ones responsible for highlighting institutional racism. Instead, she said, she has a unique ability to explain white privilege to “those white women in the suburbs who voted for Trump.”
“When their son is walking down a street with a bag of M&M’s in his pocket wearing a hoodie, his whiteness is what protects him from not being shot,” she said, as the audience burst into applause. “When their child has a car that breaks down and he knocks on someone’s door for help and the door opens and the help is given, it’s his whiteness that protects him from being shot.”
Watch her full statement below.
.@SenGillibrand, on talking to white suburban moms: “When their son is walking down a street with a bag of M&M’s in his pocket wearing a hoodie, his whiteness is what protects him from not being shot.”
“…That is what white privilege in America is today.” pic.twitter.com/ErzBfwSMKH
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) August 1, 2019