On Saturday, Hillary Clinton conceded that race relations have not improved under America’s first black president.
Speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco, Clinton said it is “tempting to dismiss a tragedy like” like the Charleston church massacre “as an isolated incident” and “to believe that in today’s America that bigotry is largely behind us, that institutionalized racism no longer exists.”
But Clinton said that “despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with race is far from finished.”
“I know that so many of us hoped that by electing our first black president we had turned the page on this chapter in our history,” Clinton said. “I know there are truths we don’t like to say out loud or discuss with our children, but we have to. That’s the only way we can possibly move forward together. Race remains a deep fault line in America. Millions of people of color still experience racism in their everyday lives.”
A recent CNN poll found that 39% of Americans, including 45% of whites and 25% of blacks, believe that race relations have gotten worse since Obama took office. Only 15% said have they have improved.
Clinton also said the country’s race problem “is not all kooks and klansmen–it’s also the the cruel joke that goes unchallenged; it’s the offhand comment about not wanting ‘those people’ in the neighborhood.”
She spoke about white privilege that well-to-do whites, many of whom are so-called “limousine liberals” who live in places like San Francisco, that often do not question it. Clinton said that for many “well-meaning, open-minded white people, the sight of a young black man in a hoodie still evokes a twinge of fear” and “news reports about poverty and crime and discrimination evokes sympathy or empathy, but too rarely do they spur us to action or prompt us to question our own assumptions and privilege.”
“We can’t hide from any of these hard truths about race and justice in America,” she said. “We have to name them. And own them. And then change them.”
Clinton listed off numerous examples that she said symbolized institutional racism in America. She said blacks are more likely to be denied mortgages than whites while the median income of white families is $134,000 compared to $11,000 for blacks. She said that nearly half of all black families have lived in poor neighborhoods for at least two generations compared to 7% of white families and mentioned that blacks are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than white men. She said schools today are more segregated than they were 50 years ago and black children are 500% more likely to die from asthma than white kids.
Since announcing her candidacy, Clinton, realizing that a lack of enthusiasm for her candidacy among black voters may cost her the presidency, has been more outspoken on race and social justice issues.