Political consultant and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced during a live Facebook stream on Friday, along with his former Crossfire co-panelist Van Jones, that white people have no idea what it’s like to be black in the U.S. The reflection comes in light of the recent police shootings in which at least two black men were killed.
Los Angeles Times reports that Gingrich, a white man, admitted that it took him years to acknowledge the vast difference in the way black people are treated in the nation when compared to “normal” white people.
“It took me a long time, and a number of people talking to me through the years to get a sense of this. If you are a normal white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America.”
He continued on to say that white Americans “instinctively underestimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk” that occurs daily against blacks. To drive his point home, Gingrich also touched on the topic of growing up in the South, particularly growing up in Georgia when segregation was legal.
“It was still legally segregated, which meant the local sheriff and National Guard would impose, by force, the taking away of rights of Americans. We’ve come a fair distance, now we have a black mayor of Atlanta and have had a series of them, in fact…. But we’ve stalled out on the cultural, economic, practical progress we needed.”
@nprpolitics Wait, this doesn't sound like him. Is he feeling okay? Has anyone checked his temperature? I'm worried.— Kyra Davis (@_KyraDavis) July 8, 2016
Yet, with Gingrich’s past comments, many of which are seen as blunt and callous, a number of people are finding it difficult to take him seriously. For instance, Gingrich called President Obama a “food stamp president” in 2012, after pointing out that more people were put on food stamps under Obama’s leadership than any other president. The statement left a sour taste in the mouths of many, and further fueled the speculation of Gingrich being a racist himself.
Are we just supposed to forget Newt Gingrich’s long history of disgustingly racist comments now? @Slate— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) July 8, 2016
Regardless, the consensus online so far is that Gingrich is speaking the truth, specifically in part that he acknowledged that there’s a higher risk of police brutality against black people when compared to whites.
“It’s both more dangerous because of crime — which is the Chicago story — but it is more dangerous that it’s substantially more likely to end up in a situation where the police don’t respect you and where you could easily get killed. Sometimes it’s difficult for whites to appreciate how real that is, it’s an everyday danger.”
Gingrich also spoke on the difference in how black parents raise their children to view police officers compared to that of how white parents teach their children to view the police. According to Gingrich, there’s an understandable fear of police instilled into black children, especially young black males, because their parents see blacks getting killed by authorities while watching the news. Gingrich feels that this is typically something that white parents and their children don’t have to deal with.
“If you are African-American, you are raising your teenage boys to be very careful in obeying the police because literally their lives are at risk and they can see it on television. At the same time, if you’re a normal Caucasian, you don’t see that, that’s not part of your experience.”
Instead of pointing fingers, Gingrich and Jones both agree that the nation should band together and help mediate the ongoing cultural conflict, especially police tensions in large cities such as Chicago.
Meanwhile, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is slated to select his running mate next week, which may likely be Newt Gingrich. The pair campaigned together this week while in Ohio.
[Photo by Scott Olsen/Getty Images]