Democrat presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) spoke to supporters at the Netroots Nation organizing conference in Philadelphia last week where she discussed the “enormous amounts of white privilege” she has experienced.
“A community has been left behind for generations because of the color of their skin,” Gillibrand stated to the small crowd of supporters. “Institutional racism is real.”
Gillibrand went on to discuss what she believed to be institutional racism against black mothers during child birth, claiming that they are less likely to live through a complicated childbirth than white women.
Speaking to Daily Mail afterwards, Gillibrand expounded on the remarks she made at the forum.
“There is a deference that is given to whiteness in society today. And, you see it all the time,” Gillibrand told Daily Mail.
Gillibrand also discussed one of her black staffers and said she watches “how she’s treated” when they travel together.
“I travel with a woman who’s black, I watch how she’s treated when we walk into a hotel room, into a hotel to check in. I watch how she’s treated in a restaurant. I watch how whether the person who’s taking her order listens to her order and gets it right,” Gillibrand said.
“I’ve sat with black Americans, and they’re literally not listened to,” Gillibrand added.
Asked by Daily Mail whether she had benefited from being a white woman, Gillibrand responded, “Absolutely.”
“I don’t think you can overstate the reality of institutional racism in society today,” Gillibrand stated. “I really don’t think you can overstate it. It is so prevalent. It is in healthcare, it is in education, it’s in the economy, it’s in the criminal justice system.”
Describing an incident where she was driving down the wrong side of the street, Gillibrand said a police officer asked her if she needed assistance. She then went on to discuss how she believes the situation would have been handled if she were a black person.
‘If I was a black woman, or God forbid a black man, he would not only pull me out of that car, he might arrest me. I could be shot,” Gillibrand claimed.
Gillibrand also claimed she has a “comprehensive approach” to address systemic racism.
According to the Daily Mail, Gillibrand was “asked specifically” how she had benefited in her career from being a white woman.
“I am certain I have been. I’m certain of it,” Gillibrand responded. “I think you know disproportionately that black and brown people have less economic opportunity. Just look at the pay gap.”
“The fact that white women earn more than black women, earn more than Latinas,” Gillibrand added. “It’s in the pay that I receive, so the truth is yes, I have benefited because of my whiteness, and that’s just a fact.”