Buttigieg on Privilege: I ‘Check Myself’ to Understand Advantages of ‘Whiteness or Maleness’

Pete Buttigieg announces that he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination during a rally in South Bend, Ind., Sunday, April 14, 2019. Buttigieg, 37, is serving his second term as the mayor of South Bend. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (D) revealed in multiple interviews this week that he has to “check himself” because it is sometimes difficult to see the ways in which he has benefited from his “whiteness or maleness.”

Time magazine, which has Buttigieg on its cover this week, acknowledged that “running a campaign based on narrative has long been a privilege reserved for men,” and “Buttigieg’s maleness and whiteness has undoubtedly benefited him, even as women and people of color become increasingly central to the Demo­crats’ 2020 coalition.”

“It’s hard for me to even be able to see some of the ways in which whiteness or maleness may have made my life go differently,” Buttigieg told the outlet.

In an interview with the Daily Show earlier in the week, Buttigieg said he tries to “check” himself to understand the various “factors” that help explain some of the advantages he has had in the 2020 election cycle because of his gender and skin color.

“But I’ve been reflecting on this because one of the things about privilege, especially things like white privilege or male privilege, is that you don’t think about it very much,” Buttigieg told host Trevor Noah. “It’s being in an out-group where you are constantly reminded of it. It’s not when you are in a majority or a privileged group. And so, I try to check myself and make sure I try to understand the factors that help explain why things are going well.”

Buttigieg also added in his interview with Noah that he thought it is “simply harder for candidates of color or for female candidates” to succeed in today’s political/media environment on the left, which is ironically dominated by outlets and reporters who obsess about diversity and look for any excuse they can find to frame conservatives as intolerant.

“I’m very mindful of that,” Buttigieg said. “The only thing I know how to do about that from where I’m sitting is to try to be true to a message and a vision that’s meaningful and to be as respectful as I can of the others.”

Numerous national and state polls have found that wealthy white “wine-track” liberals are behind the so-called “Buttigieg boomlet,” and the Indiana mayor at various events has acknowledged that his campaign needs to do better among Democrats of color. Buttigieg has often asked his mostly homogenous supporters in recent weeks to help him reach out to more voters of color.

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