Buttigieg notes diversity on debate stage: We’re ‘7 white people talking about racial justice’

democratic depate diversity

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised the lack of racial diversity on the debate stage Tuesday night in Charleston, S.C., noting that all seven contenders at the event are white.

“I come to this with some humility because I’m conscious of the fact that there’s seven white people on this stage talking about racial justice. None of us have the experience, the lived experience of, for example, walking down the street or in a mall and feeling eyes on us, regarding us as dangerous without knowing the first thing about us, just because of the color of our skin,” he said.

“Since we don’t have the experience, the next best thing we can do is actually listen to those who do,” he added.

The comments came after an exchange on stop and frisk, the police practice Mike Bloomberg oversaw as mayor of New York City. Studies have shown the practice was ultimately ineffective in reducing crime by large margins and overwhelmingly targeted New Yorkers of color.

Buttigieg hammered Bloomberg over the practice, saying it was “about profiling people based on race.”

Bloomberg has apologized for the practice in recent weeks and repeated his mea culpa Tuesday night onstage.

“We let it get out of control,” he said. “When I realized that I cut it back by 95 percent. And I’ve apologized and asked for forgiveness. I’ve met with black leaders to try to get an understanding of how I can better position myself and what I should have done and what I should do next time.”

The exchange could be particularly prescient in South Carolina, which will hold its primary Saturday. African American voters are anticipated to make up approximately 60 percent of the primary electorate this weekend.

The diversity in the primary field has been thrust in the spotlight in recent months after several candidates of color dropped out of the race. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who failed to qualify for Tuesday’s debate, is the only remaining candidate of color in the race.

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