Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday warned Black Americans of a new civil war if the federal government failed to end racist institutions and pay reparations for slavery.
“If we do not tackle the problem of racial inequality in my lifetime, I am convinced that it will upend the American project in my lifetime,” he warned. “It brought our country to its knees once and if we do not act, it could again.”
Buttigieg spoke about racial issues during a Chicago speech at Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund.
The South Bend mayor spoke about the burden he carried after a white police officer shot and killed a black man who was suspected of breaking into cars. He acknowledged that there was much more to do on issues of race in the police department, but that was only the beginning.
“Yes, the uniform is burdened by racism, but it goes far beyond that, our health care system is burdened by racism … we know that our housing is burdened by racism … our schools are burdened by racism,” he said.
He spoke about the need for racial reparations, citing the “compound interest” owed to the black community after slavery.
“Every dollar plundered 150 years ago costs the descendants of the victim a thousand today,” he said.
Buttigieg recalled his campaign theme of freedom, security, and democracy, noting that he benefited from white privilege.
“It is going to take extra effort applying our deepest values and our biggest ideas to drive out the darkness,” he said. “And it is candidly particularly urgent that we hear this from any candidate that runs for office with the benefits and privileges of whiteness on his or her side.”