At the November 20th Democratic debate, Pete Buttigieg touted his “outsider” status as the secret weapon that would help the Democratic Party defeat Donald Trump. He argued that although he doesn’t have the “Washington experience” of his opponents, he has other experience that qualifies him to be president.

The fact that Mayor Pete can stand up on Oprah Winfery’s Sound Stage at Tyler Perry’s studio and say that he doesn’t meet or even need what many people would consider to be the basic qualifications for holding the highest office in the land ain’t nothing but white privilege.

Society appreciates white men who are “outsiders” to a system coming in to “shake things up” but balks at the idea of black women and other people of color doing the same. White men are allowed to be “innovative” and “creative” while everyone else must color inside the lines, lest we be told that we don’t know how to do our jobs. People are okay with new ideas and a new ways of thinking as long as it is a white man pushing it. Everybody else is patted on the head and sent away until a white man comes around saying the very same thing.

What kills me super dead is that white folks–especially white men–get the privilege of showing up wherever they want with little experience and lots of loud opinions and people will make time to listen for them. I cannot tell you how many times in my career that I have had to convince people that I know what I’m talking about concerning something that I was being paid to know or had dedicated years of study to be able to have an informed opinion about only to be over talked by a white man who was loud and wrong. Not to mention all the times that I have had to fight to be given a title or perks concominant with the level of work that I was doing because people questioned my level of knowledge or experience.

Black people are passed up for jobs and promotions all the time because we supposedly don’t have the right “experience.” What this really means is that we don’t have the kind of experience that resonates with white people. The catch-22 that many of us find ourselves in is that we are locked out of the experiences that provide opportunities to network and get our ideas in front of people. Our papers aren’t accepted to journals. We’re not invited to speak at the conferences. Our experience working within our community is not seen as valid.

So when we show up we’re told that we don’t have the right level of experience or the right kind of experience, but we’re locked out of the systems and institutions that would give us those experiences. And on the chance that we happen to have the right doors open for us, it often comes at the expense of our racial identity and dignity. Our acceptance into these spaces is predicated on our ability to not only live up to white standards, but to perform whiteness.

So many smart, hard-working, creative people of color are passed over for mediocre white men who have all the right connections and “experience.” And when they don’t have the requisite experience, the powers that be are still willing to “take a chance” on them because their “pluck” (read: sense of entitlement and presumptuousness) shows that they “might have what it takes.”

Most of the time, the “creative” and “innovative” white people are saying and doing things that black folks have been saying and doing all along.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sat at tables with white men trying to convince them that this, that, or the other thing is what their organization needs to do in order to be successful only to be met with skepticism and having to fight to even be heard. I cannot tell you how many times that a white man has come along behind me and offered up the exact thing that I suggested and was treated as if he made all the difference in the organization. There are times when I have had to push to be given the authority and power that my position entailed only to have a white man come in behind me and be trusted with the keys to the kingdom.

So when people like Pete Buttigeig–and Donald Trump before him–stand up in front of an audience of millions and say that their lack of experience is actually an asset, I start to see red. If Kamala Harris were still working as a proseceutor, you can guarantee that she would not have made it to that stage. If Corey Booker were still Mayor of Newark (which is twice the size of South Bend where Buttigieg is mayor), he would not be anywhere near that stage either.

That Pete Buttigieg, a young white man who is mayor of a small city, has found his way onto a national stage is the very definition of the privilege of inexperience. Black folks must prove that we deserve to be anywhere that white people are, but white men’s inexperience can be spun and contorted into an asset.

Posted by The Armchair Commentary

41 Comments

  1. Whoever wrote this must have been in a coma from 2009-2016. Glad to see they’re better now but it looks like they might still have some side effects. I really hope people give this man a chance and hear him out and not jump to conclusions like this author has done here. He is trying hard to win your vote because he does care and his Douglas plan is a good plan with some pretty good support from some black communities across the country. He has made mistakes that effected the black community but he doesn’t ignore them or pretend they’re not an issue. He owns it, addresses it and tries to correct it. He is listening to you and his Douglas plan specifically addresses several of the notions and concerns that this author is trying to make into an issue and ignoring. No other candidate has as comprehensive of a plan to address racial inequality issues then him. I hope you all keep an open mind and hear him out and check out his plan. Thanks.

    Like

    Reply

    1. Barack Obama was a United States Senator when he ran for the Presidency and he previously served in the Illinois Senate for eight years prior. He wasn’t a Mayor of at best a small Midwestern city. If Barack Obama had run in 2008 with Pete Buttigieg’s resume, he would have never come close to winning the nomination. That’s the point this article is driving home.

      Like

      Reply

      1. ANYONE running today with Barack Obama’s resume would never come close to winning the nomination.

        Like

    2. Matt, I’m not sure which Black communities you are referencing but here is an article that makes clear his campaign purposely used deceptive tactics to make it appear he had the support of Black communities in South Carolina when he in fact did not. https://www.businessinsider.com/pete-buttigieg-falsely-touted-black-support-south-carolina-douglass-plan-2019-11?fbclid=IwAR1RWNriZ_72lfrzcmKbQlWa2cuJYllQX8sSSKKYNDTMYpYOLJ5oYlY31YQ.
      It states in short that “Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign falsely said that three prominent black figures in South Carolina supported his Douglass Plan for Black America, according to a report from The Intercept.
      In late October, Buttigieg’s campaign released an article published in the HBCU Times praising the plan, citing an open letter on behalf of Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Devine, Rehoboth Baptist pastor and state Rep. Ivory Thigpen, and Johnnie Cordero, chair of the state party’s Black Caucus, in addition to more than 400 Douglass Plan endorsers.
      But, The Intercept found, none of those three people actually supported Buttigieg as a candidate, and two of the three never endorsed his Douglass Plan.
      Additionally, at least 42 percent of the more than 400 supporters on the list are white.”
      He has yet to address, let alone take accountability for any of this deception.

      Like

      Reply

    3. From this word salad of an answer I can tell you aren’t black.

      Second BUTTIGEIG didn’t write that bullshit plan and consulted NO ONE
      BLACK either. Then he has the absolute audacity to use prominent black members of Congress to fool my community into believing they’ve endorsed it. THEY DID NOT.

      So don’t sit and pretend his ass isn’t polling at 0% with us. And it’ll stay there because Buttigieg is not qualified.

      He doesn’t have our vote. And don’t get the dem nomination without it.

      Like

      Reply

      1. LOL – ok, then you should just keep following Kanye West and rally behind Trump again. That should help.

        Like

    4. Helen Higginbotham November 26, 2019 at 5:47 am

      That you think this article points to but one example speaks to your complicity. What she writes about is an everyday reality that requires people like you to be quiet and take a hard and honest look in the mirror and question yourself, your “accomplishmenfs” and your worthiness; real and achieved or inflated and gifted by people who look like you and who share a vested interest in the promotion of you… See yourself? Stop talking…

      Like

      Reply

    5. You’re a Buttigieg propagandist.

      Progressives WILL NEVER vote for Buttigieg.

      He’safucking fraid and so ate his pathetic supporters.

      Like

      Reply

    6. “I hope you all keep an open mind and hear him out and check out his plan.” You all? Who are you all?

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

    7. Bullshit.

      Like

      Reply

  2. I think this article is bullshit. I have seen Herman Cain, Ben Carson and others with little to none public office on the main stage at their party debates.

    Like

    Reply

    1. And how did Herman Cain, Ben Carson, et cetera’s runs work out? That’s the point being made here.

      Like

      Reply

      1. The head of HUD.

        Like

      2. And he’s done so well at HUD.

        Like

  3. Okay but you also have to take into account the Republican context for guys like Cain and Carson. They operate with the stamp of approval of what is really the whitest party, and that gives them a leg up for sure. Tokenism proves the point of the above essay.

    Like

    Reply

  4. I think much of what you say is true but I would like to include that a white woman who was extremely qualified, Hillary Clinton, was completely discounted, as strong well educated and better qualified woman usually are whether or not they are white or women of color. In our country right now a white male imbecile has a better chance of becoming president than any women.

    Like

    Reply

  5. I’m not particularly enthused by Mr. Buttigeig. He vacillates too much, first, is inherently a stability-centric second, and has done a poor job dealing with people who bring legitimate grievances to his door, third.

    There are other candidates – Ms. Harris, Ms. Warren – who have, to my mind, done more than he has. Their message(s) are also more coherent, and far more importantly, seem to be consistent within Ms. Harris’ and Ms. Warren’s stated positions.

    He’s getting attention because he’s young, sharp-looking, has the gift of gab, and does have an admirable resume. That said, he doesn’t have enough experience to be POTUS, and if he gets the nom, I will vote for him only bc the alternative is worse.

    Like

    Reply

  6. Summary: Pete is winning only because racism remains rampant in our country. Totally agree, and that’s exactly why Pete should be the nominee: his intelligent, reasonable, and empathetic personality is the breath of fresh air that disenfranchised white men in the mid-west can get behind – to form a progressive alliance. To demerit him because he is neither a woman nor POC is to discriminate against him bc of the cards he was dealt. I admire the radical energy of these anti-Pete stories, but they are exactly the kind of negative in-fighting that fuels resentment and disenfranchisement. This fight would be much better directed towards the electoral college which still counts suburban white voters twice for every urban voter of color. Pete wants to fix that.

    Like

    Reply

    1. Actually, that is one of TWO reasons. The other is that they used the standard “likely democratic voters”…basically they only polled people who have a history of voting democrat…..so they could deliberately skew the poll by weeding out most independents and younger voters…. Basically the polls Pete leads don’t count the demographics that will actually decide the election.

      We ARE a hella racist country though, and that is why partyline dems accept his horseshit.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

    2. How about his record of plowing down Black and Brown housing and firing a Black head of police when news leaked of racist statements by white Police?

      Mayor Pete has a record that is very scary.. Plus, his moderate ideas will help no one.

      Like

      Reply

  7. Michael Scopelitis November 23, 2019 at 2:01 am

    The white privilege problem completely misapplied to Pete Buttigeig. This article shows a complete lack of research into who he is and what he knows and stands for.

    Like

    Reply

    1. The author is spot on, actually, but I understand your response, Michael. As a white person, I remember how hard it was for me to understand how white privilege works and to see it operating systemically. Here’s a link to an article I read in the 90s that helped me see. I encourage you to do some research of your own so that you, too, will recognize the manifestations of white privilege.

      https://nationalseedproject.org/Key-SEED-Texts/white-privilege-unpacking-the-invisible-knapsack

      Peace for your journey.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  8. All these white men here not getting the point *eyeroll*. You are only exemplifying what this entire article is about. You have no idea what it’s like to be black or female (or black AND female) and yet you feel qualified to spout off about it.

    Buttigieg is only where he is right now because he is white and male, but every time he opens his mouth non-white and non-male people see that oblivious privilege on full display and we aren’t voting for it. We’re tired of it. We don’t have to change, YOU do.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. this angry shaming is precisely why Trump was elected and precisely why Warren and Harris are unelectable. The midwestern white men who decide the presidency in our broken democracy will not vote for a candidate that lambasts them. you are right, but the ideas are coastal and elitist.

      Like

      Reply

      1. You’re right. These types of people are why Trump will be reelected. The left loves to eat its own.

        Like

      2. Helen Higginbotham November 26, 2019 at 6:16 am

        Wake up call; when Black folks are not cheated at the ballot box, the Black vote decides the national election (hanging Chad’s come to mind); especially Black women who tend to vote as a block. It is because the Black vote counts that so many, particularly the republican party, goes to such lengths to invalidate us and therefore our vote. Pete and trump represent white male insecurities… That any white person, male or female, supports donald trump despite his obvious, embarrassing, incomprehensible and infinite inabilities, speaks volumes and must be examined on a macro level. His continued presence speaks much about a broken and desperate nation and broken and desperate people holding on to a creative and false narrative created for, by and about them that has served them well; white superiority. If not the white male, who is the face of such a false notion? donald is white folks’ father, brother, husband and son. For many, to condemn his reality hits too close to home. They just can’t do it. Not even in the privacy of a ballot box…

        Like

  9. Well…I am pale AF so I can’t speak for black people. I live in a black neighborhood though, and I note that I have not once heard his name around here unless it is to make fun of him or express anger.

    *shrugs*

    Like

    Reply

  10. Obama won in 2008 because he was less experienced than Hilary and was supposed to change Washington. Let’s not forget that many Democrats want Oprah or Michelle Obama, who have no public office experience, to run for President. The author is just bitter that the black candidates are behind Buttigieg in the polls.

    Like

    Reply

  11. As a black man I will sit out the 2020 election rather than voting for another inexperienced White man into the highest office of government

    Like

    Reply

  12. I think the Ohio caucus polling has absolutely nothing to do with who can be elected President. But one thing seems certain. If large numbers of black people sit out the election, the next President will be Donald Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Let’s hope then that the DNC offer Black voters someone worth voting for and not a moderate who has treated Black and Brown people badly…

      Like

      Reply

  13. This is a forced issue (by the opposition) to divide Progressives.
    Mayor Buttigieg is extremely qualified and has proved he is willing to listen to more seasoned professionals of any matter.
    He is one of MANY candidates that would be excellent choices to lead our nation out of this dark time.
    Trifling over something like this while the opposition has such INCREDIBLE scandals by comparison is not just ridiculous, it’s talking a loaded weapon from the republicans and putting it in your own mouth.

    Like

    Reply

  14. Susanne Dickmann November 26, 2019 at 2:31 am

    Nice write up. However, in a piece with a headline like this I would at least attempt to spell Ms. Winfrey’s name correctly. Just sayin’…

    Like

    Reply

  15. This well written and passionate article brings to mind parting words of encouragement a colleague received when she attended a Black Woman’s Summit. She shared with me the following. They were told: “Be bold, Be Audacious like a Mediocre white man!” That sums up this article. White mediocrity dressed up like excellence; another of the elephants in a very crowded living room.

    WHO amongst us has not worked with or been supervised by someone you thought utterly and entirely clueless who clearly only had the job because he, and even she very often, is white? These same people who will deny you an opportunity for having twice their skill and training and who discount you and your ideas as they make your ideas and sometimes work product their own? Happens EVERYday!

    Like

    Reply

  16. all of the expired mayo in the comments has me cracking up. as a white male, I hear you and see you, and you are absolutely correct. frankly, i’m sick of it as well and would like to hear the voices of people who don’t look like me

    Like

    Reply

    1. I meant that I hear and see the author. not the mayonnaise brigade that found it’s way to this article

      Like

      Reply

  17. I can only say AMEN to this article! As a white woman, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had experiences identical to the ones you describe. It’s about racist/misogynist entitlement, privilege and preconceived (entrenched) notions of WHO gets to contribute. Obviously, I’m white and have not experienced systemic racism, but I want you to know I hear you and feel you! Thank you!

    Like

    Reply

  18. The video included in the article, alone, proves the article correct. WTF kind of answer is that, Pete? I’m a lesbian and tired of seeing my white gay male friends fawn over him just bc he’s gay, white, and male. He has nothing to contribute on the national stage. He’s out there like “we don’t need D.C. experience; the type of experience we need is the inexperience of a mediocre white man like me.” Seriously, the best he has to list for his experience is that he’s been sent to a military zone, he’s organized a meeting of humans, he’s “done” “things” with said humans, and he has been subject to the law? He’s not even good at public speaking. He’s vague af and useless. Only on Planet White Male and RNC can you make it to a national stage with nothing but garbage coming out of your mouth. It reminds me of all the crummy lesbian films with the same exact plot, and I enjoyed them solely because they were lesbian movies with hot actresses, and I thought they were good movies for about 12 hours and then the next day I’m like “Wow, that was total garbage, I can’t believe I thought that was a good movie.” White gays like him because he’s one of them and his face is cute and he looks like a good top, and I need them to wake up from their fantasies and remember this is the real world with real consequences and they need to use their brains, rather than their you-know-whats, to help us elect the best President.

    Like

    Reply

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s