South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg says white supremacy could be the issue that “ends this country.” The Democratic presidential candidate made the remarks as members of his party have condemned President Donald Trump’s racist attacks against four congresswomen of color.
“That is the only issue that almost ended this country.… We’ve had a lot [of] challenges in this country, but the one that actually almost ended this country in the Civil War was white supremacy,” Buttigieg told ABC News. “It could be the lurking issue that ends this country in the future, if we don’t wrangle it down in our time.”
The issue of white supremacy and racism has dominated political headlines as Trump continues his attacks on Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). The attacks began when Trump said the four lawmakers, all American citizens, should “go back” to where they came from.
On July 22, Trump attempted to turn the tables and called the team of lawmakers a “very Racist group of troublemakers.” The president said the women were “young, inexperienced, and not very smart” and accused them of pulling the Democratic Party to the “far left.”
Buttigieg has confronted issues of race while campaigning for the White House. After a white police officer shot and killed a Black man in South Bend, the mayor suspended his campaign to address the issue.
The 37-year-old faced protesters during a press conference and public forum after Eric Logan’s death. Sergeant Ryan O’Neill fatally shot Logan, 54, on June 16 after he was allegedly found breaking into cars.
A petition has urged South Bend to fire O’Neill but Buttigieg indicated he did not have the power to make that decision as mayor. According to ABC News, Buttigieg has been vocal about the need to diversify the South Bend police department.
Earlier in July, Buttigieg hit back at an attendee’s racist advice during a Democratic Party event in Iowa. The attendee told Buttigieg that he had a solution for the controversy in South Bend between police and the Black community. “Just tell the Black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs,” the attendee said, according to Politico.
Buttigieg told the man that he does not think racism will “help us get out of this drama.” The man claimed his solution had “nothing to do with race,” but Buttigieg quickly fired back.
“The fact that a Black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime is evidence of systemic racism,” Buttigieg said. “It is evidence of systemic racism and with all due respect sir, racism makes it harder for good police officers to do their jobs too. It is a smear on law enforcement.”
Buttigieg has not just critiqued systemic racism, but also released a plan to dismantle the “racist structures and systems” in the US. The proposal is called “The Douglas Plan” in honor of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The 18-page plan proposes to reform criminal justice, education, healthcare, entrepreneurship, and voting rights at the federal level.
“The key to dealing with racial discussions in the country is honesty,” Buttigieg told ABC News on July 20. “And that means honesty about how we got here. It means honesty about what we are up against.” He noted that the issue of racial inequality should not be something that is only discussed and taken seriously by people of color.
“The entire American experiment is at stake in whether we can manage to deliver prosperity in a way that your race has no bearing on your income, your wealth, your employment opportunities, your experience with criminal justice, [and] your ability to vote,” Buttigieg said.
He added: “We’re just not there and we won’t get there until we acknowledge that replacing a racist historical structure with a more neutral current one is not enough.”
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.