24 Hours With Pete Buttigieg

By Tanya A. Christian · Nov 21, 2019 (Essence.com, abridged)

ESSENCE cameras followed along as news and politics editor, Tanya Christian, spent 24 hours on the campaign trail in South Carolina with the 2020 hopeful.

On the road in South Carolina was not the first time I got to spend time with the man who is now surging in the Iowa polls. In July he attended the 25th annual ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans where he rolled out his Walker-Lewis plan. At the time he touted it as a way to help bridge the economic divide by investing in Black entrepreneurs. 

I noticed then that Buttigieg is purposeful in his approach to creating a campaign that feels inclusive of the Democratic party’s most loyal voting block. Just prior to Festival, he rolled out a plan named after highly-regarded abolitionist Frederick Douglas that would help increase the number of successful small businesses in Black communities by 50 percent. It would also rebuild America to a place that didn’t administer potential based on skin color.

I asked him about it when we sat down the next day in the same Rock Hill area. Why had he placed Black women, the Black community at the core of so many of his policies? To that, he said, “For reasons related to sexism, racial inequality, and other structural problems — all of which by the way came about on purpose. Which means it won’t be taken apart unless we do it on purpose.”

The 37-year-old has a point. But as aware as he is of structural inequity among communities of color, I have to imagine that he’s conscious of the fact that support for his campaign within the Black community is practically non-existent. During a California campaign fundraiser, he reportedly said that the reason he wasn’t doing well among Black South Carolina voters, and Joe Biden was, comes down to familiarity. And unfortunately for the mayor, familiarity is hard to come by.

It takes time, real work, and a certain level of credibility. The kind that inspires people to see that their issues and concerns are being heard, and will, in fact, be addressed.

He tells me during our talk that the federal government created many of the inequalities that we’re living within the first place and that he wants to fix them. That he has a chance to stand up at a time like this, and that’s what he plans to do as president. On that note, I believe him. Now only time will tell if he can convince the Black community, the country, that it’s enough to catapult him into the White House.  

[read in full at Essence.com]

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