Yes, Kirsten Gillibrand a serious uphill battle with many of us liberals over the Al Franken issue. That said, we need Democrats, and especially white Democratic candidates for president, to be THIS GOOD on the issue of White Privilege.
A white woman in Youngstown, OH decided to complain about people using the term "white privilege" while discussing the opioid crisis at one of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign events. The Senator taught that entire audience a thing or two with her spot-on response. Here was the question:
This is an area that, across all demographics, has been depressed because of the loss of industry and the opioid crisis. What do you have to say to people in this area about so-called white privilege?
Sen. Gillibrand hit it out of the park, first showing empathy for anyone suffering from addiction and job loss — that is real suffering to be sure. But then she schooled them all about how that is an entirely different discussion from white privilege. In fact, the opioid crisis is white privilege personified. When the crack epidemic was inflicted on the Black and brown population, white people ignored it, demonized and/or incarcerated those suffering. Now that it's opioids, and affecting white communities, it's a crisis that demands care and treatment?
Here was Sen. Gillibrand's stellar response:
What that conversation is about is when a community has been left behind for generations because of the color of their skin. When you’ve been denied job after job after job because you’re Black or because you’re brown. Or when you go to the emergency room to have your baby ― the fact that we have the highest maternal mortality rate, and if you are a black woman you are more four times likely to die in childbirth because that health care provider doesn’t believe you when you say, ‘I don’t feel right.’ Because he doesn't value you or she doesn't value you.
So institutional racism is real. It doesn’t take away your pain or suffering. It’s just a different issue. Your suffering is just as important as a black or brown person’s suffering. But to fix the problems that are happening in the black community, you need far more transformational efforts that are targeted for real racism that exists every day. So if your son is 15 years old and smokes pot, he smokes pot just as much as the Black boy in his neighborhood, or the brown boy in his neighborhood, and that Black or brown boy is four times more likely to be arrested. And when he's arrested the criminal justice system might require him to pay bail. 500 bucks. That kid does not have 500 bucks....If it's an adult with a child at home and he's a single parent, no one is with his child? Doesn't matter what he says, "I have a child at home. I have to go home. He's only 12. What am I gonna do?" It doesn't matter. IMAGINE as a parent how you would feel so helpless.
THAT'S institutional racism. Your son will likely not have to deal with that because he is white. So, when someone says "white privilege," that's all they're talking about. It's that his whiteness will mean that a police officer might give him a second chance. It might mean that he doesn't get incarcerated because he just smoked a joint with his girlfriend. It might mean that he won't have to post bail. It might mean that he might be able to show up to work the next day and not lose his job, and not be in this cycle of poverty that never ends. That's all it is.
The crowd gave her the rousing round of applause she deserved.