Pete Buttigieg Faces Backlash After 2011 Video Claiming Minority Children Don’t Know Anyone Who ‘Values Education’ Resurfaces
Just a few months ago, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was a relative unknown on the national political stage. After gaining traction with voters on the debate stage and at various town halls, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has made leaps in the polls. But with more publicity now following Buttigieg means there will also be more scrutiny over his past.
That past came to light on Tuesday morning as “Pete Buttigieg Is A Lying MF” was one of the topics trending on Twitter. This was all due to an opinion piece titled “Pete Buttigieg Is A Lying MF” that was written Michael Harriot, a senior writer from The Root. The piece highlights a recently resurfaced video of Buttigieg from 2011 where the-then candidate for mayor of South Bend said many minority children from low-income neighborhoods don’t know individuals who demonstrate the value of education. Ultimately, he makes the point that seeing more role models would help those children succeed.
“Kids need to see evidence that education is going to work for them,”Buttigieg said at the time. “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.”
The resurfaced video was blasted on social media with many Twitter users saying the clip illustrates why Buttigieg has struggled to earn support from minority voters.
The video clip made waves on social media with people jumping on Buttigieg and pointing out his inability to connect with minorities, particularly black voters. This has been a continuing narrative following his campaign that has included criticism over the lack of black officials on his campaign team, his dismissal of South Bend’s African-American police chief and the small number of minority police officers after the shooting of a black man by a white police officer in June.
“Mayor Pete’s bullsh—ery is not just wrong, it is proof,” Harriot wrote in the op-ed piece.“It proves men like him are more willing to perpetuate the fantastic narrative of negro neighborhoods needing more role models and briefcase-carriers than make the people in power stare into the sun and see the blinding light of racism.”
For Buttiegieg, this couldn’t come at a worse time for his campaign as he has made strides in recent polling. This all comes amid reports that Buttigieg has struggled to win support from Black voters, especially from his hometown. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found him at 0% with black voters in South Carolina.
Buttigieg has since responded to the criticism saying that the video clip doesn’t show the full picture of what he knew then and what he knows now.
“What I said in that comment before I became mayor does not reflect the totality of my understanding then, and certainly now, about the obstacles that students of color face in our system today,” Buttigieg told reporters at a campaign stop on Tuesday. “I believe I was speaking about the need for mentorship and the need for career pathways, but the problem is to the extent that that feels like it’s validating a narrative that sometimes blames the victim for the consequences of systemic racism, I understand why he [Harriot] was upset and I understand the perspective and largely agree.”
While Buttigieg is polling strong in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, the first caucus and primary states for the Democratic nomination, South Carolina will follow shortly after. This is notable because the state has a large African-American voter demographic that is crucial in winning, especially considering his inability so far to connect with minority voters.
While Buttigieg has attempted to make to deflect the controversy from the video clip, it has now started a conversation on how some minorities feel about white candidates’ view of them.
Twitter erupted with users not only calling out Buttigieg for his choice of words but the systemic disadvantage that many face when it comes to education.
The Root piece notes that Buttigieg had all the advantages as his father taught at the University of Notre Dame and his mother at another private high school. Buttigieg would graduate from Harvard University and also studied at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
“Majority-minority schools receive $23 billion less in funding than majority-white schools, according to a recent study.
Black students in Indiana, the state where Buttigieg serves as mayor, and across the country, are disciplined more harshly than white students.”
Buttigieg’s comments didn’t sit well with another Democratic candidate, Julián Castro, who wrote on Twitter about that educational disparity that many communities of color face.
Black and Brown families value education the same as white families. But even 65 years after Brown v Board, someone’s zip code too often predicts their success. As long as neighborhoods remain segregated by race and income, the quality of our schools will be segregated too.” Castro wrote.
While Buttigieg has said that is campaign will make changes when it comes to black outreach, he has a long way to go if he is going to be taken seriously.