Mayor Pete Buttigieg spoke on the phone with a black writer who wrote a viral column on Tuesday calling the South Bend mayor a “lying motherfucker.”
Michael Harriot, a writer for The Root, launched an angry column criticizing Buttigieg after watching a 2011 clip of the mayor discussing education problems facing black Americans before he was elected mayor.
Kids need to see evidence that education is going to work for them. You’re motivated because you believe that at the end of your education, there is a reward; there’s a stable life; there’s a job. And there are a lot of kids — especially the lower-income, minority neighborhoods, who literally just haven’t seen it work. There isn’t someone who they know personally who testifies to the value of education.
The clip made the rounds on social media as evidence that Buttigieg was clueless about black America.
“Kids” from “lower income, minority neighborhoods” don’t have “someone they know personally who testifies to the value of education.” – Pete Buttigieg, 2011 South Bend Mayoral Candidate #MayorPete #PeteForAmerica #Pete2020 #Buttigieg2020 #Buttigieg pic.twitter.com/sd1bZDLoG8
— Resist Programming (@RzstProgramming) November 24, 2019
That angered Harriot, who wrote that Buttigieg was a “lucky motherfucker” whose father and mother were professors at elite colleges and got into Harvard and became a Rhodes Scholar and did not understand the struggle facing black people.
“I want to be clear: Pete Buttigieg is a lying motherfucker,” he added.
After the column went viral on Twitter, Buttigieg surprised Harriot by personally calling him to discuss it.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been called a ‘lying motherfucker’ before,” Buttigieg said, when he got on the phone, according to Harriot in a followup column.
Buttigieg listened as Harriot argued that institutional racism was the core problem with African-American struggles in America. Harriot also criticized previous Democrat candidates for campaigning in barbershops and black churches but failing to seriously address issues of concern to African-Americans.
Harriot admitted that he was not sure whether to believe Buttigieg, after an 18-minute phone conversation, but indicated he appreciated the mayor’s willingness to listen.
“The only thing I actually know about Pete Buttigieg is that he is a white man,” Harriot concluded. “But Pete Buttigieg listened, which is all you can ask a white man to do. Unless, of course, he wants to fight.”