Gillibrand speaks of how she benefits from white privilege
Presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers MORE (D-N.Y.) said Saturday that she has “certainly experienced” white privilege after a video of her explanation of the issue was widely circulated online this week.
Speaking at the progressive Netroots Nation conference, Gillibrand also said that seeing a black staffer treated differently infuriates her.
“As a white woman who has certainly experienced enormous amounts of white privilege, I travel with a staff member who’s black and I see how she’s being treated differently when we walk into a hotel,” Gillibrand said. ” I’ve seen it and it infuriates me.”
“So if I don’t understand that it is my responsibility to lift up her voice, to lift up the voices of black and brown Americans every day, then I’m not doing my job as a U.S. Senator and I’m not doing my job as a presidential candidate,” she added.
Gillibrand’s Saturday remarks follow a widely circulated video from a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio this week in which she explained the issue to a woman who asked what she has to say about “so-called white privilege” in an area where people of various demographics have been affected by job losses and the opioid crisis.
“It is devastating when you’ve lost your job, you’ve lost your ability to provide for your kids,” Gillibrand said said. “No one in that circumstance feels privileged on any level, but that’s not what that conversation is about.”
“What that conversation is about is when a community has been left behind for generations because of the color of their skin. When you’ve been denied job after job after job because you’re black or because you’re brown,” she said.
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Gillibrand said that the struggles of white people in the Youngstown don’t matter less than the struggles of people of color, but that people of color can also face other disadvantages.
“Your suffering is just as important as as a black or brown person’s suffering but to fix the problems that are happening in a black community, you need far more transformational efforts that are targeted for real racism that exists every day,” she said.
The New York Democrat also cited disparities in marijuana arrest rates and other inequalities in the criminal justice system as examples.
Today in Youngstown, OH, a woman asked: “This is an area that, across all demographics, has been depressed because of the loss of industry and the opioid crisis. What do you have to say to people in this area about so-called white privilege?”
Here’s what I answered: pic.twitter.com/M8Ld5yjVE6
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) July 12, 2019
Gillibrand expanded her past remarks again on Saturday.
“This conversation about white privilege is so important because what she doesn’t see, is that as her son grows older, as my sons grow older, there’s going to be moments in life that his whiteness protects him, his whiteness changes how he’s treated,” she said, referring to the Ohio woman.
Gillibrand is one of more than two dozen people running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. So far, her campaign has not seen much traction in polling.