Pete Buttigieg’s Campaign Surveyed Staffers Of Color For Microaggressions, Report Says

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner on June 9, 2019 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

A Tuesday report from The New York Times claims that Pete Buttigieg’s campaign circulated a survey asking for examples of microaggressions, only asking staffers of color to complete it. The first question in the survey reportedly asked the staffers if they had experienced any of six listed microaggressions from white colleagues, including “being called the name of a different staff member of color.”

This claim is one of many detailed in a report that covers the Buttigieg campaign’s alleged struggle with diversity. During a diversity and inclusion retreat, staffers revealed that they felt senior Buttigieg staffers did not listen to their ideas and concerns regarding the campaign. One such staffer claimed there was an “emotional weight” carried by the people of color attached to the campaign, some of whom seemingly felt they were expected to help the movement meet its diversity targets.

In a follow-up meeting, some staffers of color reportedly said that they felt disrespected by their white colleagues, and The New York Times reported that audio recording of a second follow-up meeting got emotional at times, bringing some participants to the point of tears.

Per The New York Times, Buttigieg released a statement in response to questions about his campaign’s operation.

“We’re proud of the staffers who stood up and made their voices heard to help our campaign improve and be more inclusive. We realize that we can always do better and these honest discussions are how we make progress, and we will continue to provide our staff the safe space to have them.”

The report is one of many that gestures towards the Buttigieg campaign’s purported struggle with diversity issues. As Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg fired the city’s first black police chief, Darryl Boykins. The decision made allegedly came about due to pressure from white officers who hatched a scheme to influence Buttigieg via donor pressure. A subsequent report from The Intercept revealed that Buttigieg skipped seven of the eight meetings addressing police oversight in South Bend, choosing to hit the campaign trail instead for fundraisers, speaking engagements, and campaign events.

Per Cape Breton Post, Buttigieg faces a steep challenge in South Carolina, which is the first state with a large black population to hold a primary. During his recent stops in the southeastern state, he faced a steady stream of questions on race — and on his ability to gain the trust of black voters.

“I get this is an ongoing process of earning trust,” Buttigieg said in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The candidate was there to speak at Claflin University, a historically black college.

During the same event, Buttigieg admitted that he still faces mostly white crowds, and acknowledged that he must speak to everyone to win.