Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand teared up in front of a crowd of progressives after admitting that she benefitted in her life from “enormous amounts of white privilege.”
During the Netroots Nation conference in Philadelphia over the weekend, the New York senator told a story about a poor, white mother she recently met in Youngstown, Ohio, who couldn’t understand the concept of “white privilege.”
“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 his life that his whiteness protects him,” she said, according to a video posted by the Washington Examiner.
“His whiteness changes how he’s treated. When he walks down a street in a hoodie with a bag of M&Ms in his pocket, he won’t be shot,” she continued, choking back tears. “When her son’s car breaks down and he needs help and walks to someone’s home and knocks on the door, he’s not going to be shot. When her son applies for a job, he’s not going to be discriminated against because of the color of his skin.
“Now as a white woman, who has certainly experienced enormous amounts of white privilege, I travel with a staff member who is black, and I see how she’s being treated differently when we walk into a hotel. I’ve seen it, and it infuriates me,” Ms. Gillibrand said, her voice shaking. “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. And that is my responsibility.”
Ms. Gillibrand remains a long-shot candidate in the crowded 2020 presidential field, polling in 19th place at 0.3%, according to the latest RealClearPolitics national average.
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