Mayor Pete Buttigieg Joins the Black Church PAC Presidential Candidate Conversation Series

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ON EARNING TRUST IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY

I get why voters are cynical right now, because I think a lot of promises have been made. Promises have been made to whole parts of the country — like the industrial midwest, where I live — and promises have been made to Black Americans, and they have not been kept…We have lived this in my own city, a diverse community where we have had tons of struggles with equality….And I am motivated by the knowledge that if we do not deal with this in our time, it could wreck the whole American project in our time; that the forces that have brought this country to its knees in the past are with us. […]

I understand, through the experience of my community what’s at stake, and I understand through the experience of my generation that there is no time to lose. It’s why I have the sense of urgency to do this, and to do it now. 

ON TAKING ACTION TO ADDRESS POVERTY 

It’s time to talk about poverty, it’s time to act on poverty. And some of this stuff is basic, like: we’ve got to pay people more. We’re overthinking this a little bit — until the minimum wage is something you can live on, we’re going to have working people living in poverty. And let’s also be honest about the fact that one of the reasons that greater social safety net support hasn’t happened — and probably one of the reasons why a higher minimum wage hasn’t happened — has to do with race. […]

And we’ve got to be honest about the fact that, as you said, this is a moral issue. This is one of many reasons why I think people of faith can take the lead. […]

So there are some very simple things we can do — raise the minimum wage, increase unionization, make sure that if you are a contractor or a gig worker you have the same access to labor protections as if you’re a traditional employee. And then there are some things that we’ve got to go a lot deeper on, from how the economy is going to look for a generation…that may be changing professions more frequently than our parents changed job titles, and being honest about the implications of racially motivated or silently racialized policy decisions that have made it harder for those in need, of any race, to get ahead. 

ON GUN VIOLENCE

For every shooting that shocks the conscience of the nation, we lose as many people every day. In our city last year, nine people were murdered, nine families went through that — and that was considered a low number, relative to other years. And every time there is one of those shootings — and it’s almost always youth, and it’s almost always people of color — but it’s one family’s agony at a time. This is an epidemic, and we have to act. […]

And when you’re a mayor you get the message when somebody is shot, you sit with the mothers, and you see their anguish. And yet, mayors are struggling against this issue of gun violence with a hand tied behind our back because politics has gotten in the way at the national level of us doing anything about guns. 

ON FAITH

We have an opportunity right now to do two things at once — to honor our stance that political leaders ought to support voters and speak for voters of any religion and of no religion equally and at the same time to remind voters of faith that we have a choice, that the scripture that I hear on Sunday says that we are supposed to identify with the prisoner as though we ourselves are in prison, that we are supposed to find salvation in feeding the hungry, that whoever oppresses the poor taunts his maker, that we are supposed to walk in humility, and seek out leaders with the hearts of servants, all of which is to say that it is flat out false that Christian faith or any faith compels us to support or condone what is going on in this White House today. 

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