EXCERPTS: Mayor Pete Speaks at the Black Economic Alliance Presidential Candidates Forum

EXCERPTS: Mayor Pete Speaks at the Black Economic Alliance Presidential Candidates Forum

by June 17, 2019

“It’s way too expensive to go to college in this country. It’s [also] way too expensive to not go to college in this country.”

“ I’m very worried…that we’re going to automate inequality by failing to be intentional about how some of these algorithms pick up structures, systems, attitudes, and assumptions that are already racist in nature.

CHARLESTON, SC — Mayor Pete joined the Black Economic Alliance for its inaugural Presidential Candidates Forum moderated by Soledad O’Brien, and to be broadcast by Black Entertainment Television (BET). The forum will air tomorrow on BET at 10 a.m. EST.

Key Excerpts:

ON EDUCATION

Now there’s one other thing I want to mention that I think is getting missed in this whole debate over college affordability, as important as it is. It’s definitely too expensive to go to college in this country. It’s also way too expensive to not go to college in this country, and we’ve got to pay attention to making it possible to live a decent lifestyle whether you’ve got a college degree or not, and that goes to everything from minimum wages to technical education. […]

I do support free tuition for low and middle income people, people who are…often the first in their family to be able to go. But I just don’t believe that all of us, especially low income people should be paying to cover the very last dollar, even for the child of a billionaire, going to a college. I think if you’re a child of a billionaire you can take care of yourself, and you ought to be able to pay some tuition. But for people who are low income, where it’s a real barrier, then of course I think we ought to be able to make it possible to leave college debt free.

ON BUILDING NEIGHBORHOODS

There are a lot of different dynamics going on in housing markets, even within one city, like my city, let alone across the country. We need a Department of Housing and Urban Development and an overall housing strategy for our country that can tell the difference. But a big part of that is making sure that we empower residents to live in integrated, economically and racially, integrated neighborhoods when they want to because we’re all better off. And let’s face the fact that the segregation of our neighborhoods didn’t just happen, as a matter of fact there are neighborhoods that were integrated 100 years ago that became segregated in the middle of the last century because of federal government policy. The United States segregated these neighborhoods and the United States will have to work to put that right, and that’s why I think we need as part of what we’re calling the Douglass Plan, to have a 21st century Homestead Act that supports people in being able to build wealth and equity while also building up neighborhoods in historically underserved areas and making sure we…support those most at risk of being driven out.

ON BIG DATA PERPETUATING RACISM

And I’m very worried, living in an era when more and more of this is going to be done by algorithms and by big data, that we’re going to automate inequality by failing to be intentional about how some of these algorithms pick up structures, systems, attitudes, and assumptions that are already racist in nature.

So we need to look wholesale at how things like access to credit and scoring of credit work to break down racial bias in them. The good news is the same tools that can perpetuate bias can also help us find it. They can help us analyze where these credit tools got it wrong, mistakenly and unfairly classified a black entrepreneur or an entrepreneur with a black customer base as higher risk, when that actually had no bearing on how successful their business was going to be.

ON REACHING OUT TO BLACK VOTERS

Black voters I talk to, frankly, feel burned and taken advantage of by politicians in both parties who come along making lavish promises, taking a vote for granted, showing up just before the election. And so, as far as what I’m doing about it, part of it is making sure opportunities like today and others that we are engaging with black activists, with black entrepreneurs, with black voters, and black leaders to talk about what an agenda for black America is really going to look like. […]

So that’s why we have to have an authentic encounter with people everywhere we find them. And, of course, present the substance of our agenda, the policies we’re trying to get through, but also explain the values that those values come from. […]

I think you’re not free if you don’t have access to healthcare. You know, freedom means economic freedom. Freedom, in my view, means women’s reproductive freedom. […] You’re not free if there’s a veil of mistrust between you as a resident of color and the officers who are sworn to keep you safe. That’s freedom too. It’s not just something that you can achieve by tearing down government. And so, talking in terms, not just of policies, but of values, freedom, security, democracy, faith. You know, I think that we also need to establish that God does not belong to a political party. So I’m going to make sure that we do everything we can to reach everyone we can with that message, and invite people to help shape this campaign, as well I hope as to support it.


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