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Pete Buttigieg Is a Lying MF


Seven thousand three hundred twenty-two dollars.

I hid it in a white Piggly Wiggly bag in the back of the dishwasher. Every single time I returned to that tiny apartment, I opened up that Navajo-white Kenmore dishwasher and made sure it was there. It was not a gift. It was not a reward. It wasn’t even mine.

And it still wasn’t enough.

I am from what most people would call “the hood.” The bad section of town. You know—where black people live. During the crack revolution of the late ’80s, to get to school every day, I would give a friendly nod as I walked past the early-rising dope boys. I meandered through the projects and—if it had recently rained—I waited for someone to help me put a 10-foot long wooden plank across the ditch that separated the black part of town from the bucolic neighborhood where the only high school in town was located. If no one was there, or if a prankster had hidden the makeshift bridge, then I had to either leap across or walk the long way around, adding an extra 15 minutes to my morning walk. Our neighborhood had no bus, so either you walked that balance beam behind the projects, took the 30-minute stroll or you said: “fuck it.”

I never said fuck it.

But if I did, it wouldn’t have been because of a lack of role models. If I had chosen to keep my mama’s lights on instead of making that daily trek, my decision wouldn’t have been based on a tropological dearth of “motivation” or communal ambivalence. As I grow older, I realize that I was not gifted, talented or even diligent.

I’m just a lucky motherfucker.

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is a lucky motherfucker, too.

He attended one of the best private schools in the country that was quite literally on the campus of one of the best colleges in the country, University of Notre Dame, where his father worked as a professor for 29 years. His mother taught at an even better, more elite school. And if you ask how he got into Harvard or became a Rhodes Scholar, Mayor Pete would probably insist that it had nothing to do with whiteness. He would likely tell you that he valued education and had great role models, both of which are probably true. There is no question that he is intelligent, hard-working and well-educated.

But he didn’t have to jump a ditch.

So, when a clip surfaced of Buttigieg explaining why negro kids fail at school so often, his answer made perfect sense.

“Kids need to see evidence that education is going to work for them,” Buttigieg explained whitely, when he was running for mayor in 2011. You’re motivated because you believe that at the end of your education, there is a reward; there’s a stable life; there’s a job. And there are a lot of kids—especially [in] the lower-income, minority neighborhoods, who literally just haven’t seen it work. There isn’t someone who they know personally who testifies to the value of education.”

I want to be clear: Pete Buttigieg is a lying motherfucker.

This is not a misunderstanding. This is not a misstatement. Pete Buttigieg went to the best educational institutions America has to offer and he—more than anyone on the goddamned planet—knows that everything he just said is a baldfaced lie.

Majority-minority schools receive $23 billion less in funding than majority-white schools, according to a recent study by EdBuild. Black students in Indiana, the state where Buttigieg serves as mayor, and across the country, are disciplined more harshly than white students. But even though Buttigieg has never attended a school with more than 10 percent black students, he thinks he knows what’s stopping black kids from achieving their educational dreams.

Apparently, it’s not the fact that the unemployment rate for black college graduates is twice as high as the unemployment rate for white grads. Black college graduates are paid 80 cents for every dollar a white person with the same education earns. White people leave college with lower debt and higher earnings. White kids get more resources, more advanced classes and have access to more technology. But Pete says it could all be solved with a vision-board.

Mayor Pete’s bullshittery is not just wrong, it is proof.

It proves men like him are more willing to perpetuate the fantastic narrative of negro neighborhoods needing more role models and briefcase-carriers than make the people in power stare into the sun and see the blinding light of racism. Get-along moderates would rather make shit up out of whole cloth than wade into the waters of reality. Pete Buttigieg doesn’t want to change anything. He just wants to be something.

This is not just a lie of omission, it is a dangerous precedent. This is why institutional inequality persists. Not because of white hoods and racial slurs. It is because this insidious double-talk erases the problem by camouflaging it. Because it is painted as a problem of black lethargy and not white apathy. Pete Buttigieg is standing over a dying man, holding the oxygen machine in his hand and telling everyone:

“Nah, he doesn’t need CPR. He’s just holding his breath.”

Negligent homicide is still homicide.

Occasionally someone would invariably fall in the ditch. It wasn’t because they didn’t see someone cross successfully, it was because the banks of that ditch was slippery and muddy when it rained. To this day, no one has ever built a bridge over that ditch. But over the years, so many people have walked that same path, that the banks eventually wore down and became crossable.

No one ever gave a fuck.

But motherfuckers never stopped jumping.

In the summer of 1992, for weeks, those same D-boys I walked past every day collected all of the ones (and a few five-dollar bills) from guys on the block and handed it to me when I left for college. It was seven thousand three hundred twenty-two dollars.

I didn’t have a driver’s license and my mother is legally blind, so they hired someone to drive me to college. None of my college friends ever knew that I had a hidden treasure in my dishwasher but a few of them noticed that it seemed like I always had a wad of cash. When I arrived to campus in a chauffeured, 1965 drop-top Cadillac (white, with hydraulics and gold specks), a couple even said:

“Damn, you’re lucky.”

They were right.

Correction, 11/26/19, 9:29 a.m.: Buttigieg went to University of Notre Dame, not Notre Dame University. The story has been updated.



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Buttigeg was just regirgitating talking points that someone wrote for him or from some Op-Ed he'd read in a newspaper or magazine.  

But the main thing that should stop ANY Black voter in their tracks when it come to Buttigieg is how he Fired the city's first Black Police Chief, Darryl Boykins, because racist White cops wanted him to.   

If that alone does not tell Black people what Buttigieg's plan for African America/Black people in America is if he were elected president, I don't know what will.

Wrongfully firing a man from his job purely out of and/or to apease jealous Racists is very telling as far as Buttigieg is concerned.

Buttigieg should have been removed from the office of Mayor for committing such an egregious ABUSE OF AUTHORITY and ACT OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION.

Buttigieg destroyed a man's career with the stroke of a pen with no more concern than a person has for a fly they have swatted.  

Since Buttigieg was/is dirty and grimy enough to do something that low-down, he does not deserve even one (1) African American vote.

  He just wanna bring back that Greek and Roman flavor where all men sit on lounge couches sipping on gin and juice while have wine-boys [much like the page boys] cater to their every political [and other] need.   Yall do remember the page scandal back in the day where a black page told everythang about politicians were really doing [with page errand boys]  with taxpayer's money.  I know I aint that old cuz I remember.   But! 

Last edited by Kocolicious


The Woke Attack on Pete Buttigieg

The Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg
Scott Morgan / Reuters

A beautiful illustration of the difference between Twitter and the real world is the viral status of Michael Harriot’s attack on Mayor Pete Buttigieg in The Root as a “lying MF.”

Buttigieg’s sin was to state, in 2011, that inner-city black kids are hobbled from getting the education they need because they lack role models who attest to the benefits of education. “And there are a lot of kids—especially [in] the lower-income, minority neighborhoods—who literally just haven’t seen it work. There isn’t someone who they know personally who testifies to the value of education.”


Many will already wonder what was wrong here: After all, is it not a mantra of enlightened thought about race to bemoan the absence of role models for various beneficial behaviors? However, to Harriot, Buttigieg’s reference to this truism was “lying.” The nut of the issue is that there are other reasons inner-city kids fail to graduate or go to college, such as funding disparities, unequal curriculum resources, and violence.

All of those things are real. Unreal, however, is Harriot’s leap of logic: that in not mentioning those things, Buttigieg was inherently denying their existence, and that in noting the lack of role models, he was blaming black people for their own problems. Buttigieg’s transgression seems to have been that he did not mention all of the reasons black kids have trouble accessing education in underserved neighborhoods. A more elaborate answer would have been more sophisticated. But why would anyone read him as an “MF” for not ticking off the whole list?


Civil-rights leaders of the recent past would be baffled by the pique here, as, I’m sure, would Americans who don’t spend most of their waking hours on social media. It’s been widely noted of late that “woke” white people are “woker” than most black people. It is also true that “woke” black people in academia and media are “woker” than a great many black people who don’t have the privilege of a byline. Harriot is assuming that Buttigieg must have meant that the lack of role models is due simply to some pathology among black people, when actually, almost anyone who publicly talks of role models in this way intends, via implication, that the lack of role models is due to larger societal factors.

Harriot and those who agree with him are reading Buttigieg as having simply preached that black people don’t care about school. But sheer psychological plausibility rules out that this is what he meant. Let’s suppose that for some reason, this is what thoughtful, Millennial Buttigieg, who at the time was running for mayor of a town with a large black population, actually believed. Let’s just suppose that. But: Would a sober, ambitious figure like Buttigieg sit in public casually assailing black America as too lazy, stupid, or unfocused to present role models to its kids?

Buttigieg was speaking out of informed sympathy, as anyone familiar with American sociopolitical discussion should have noticed. Our antennae must go up when notions of what an insult is become this strained. We must heed our inner blip of confusion instead of suspending logic when we grapple with race issues.

The degree of aggrievement here must be clear. I will let Harriot speak for himself:

This is why institutional inequality persists. Not because of white hoods and racial slurs. It is because this insidious double-talk erases the problem by camouflaging it. Because it is painted as a problem of black lethargy and not white apathy. Pete Buttigieg is standing over a dying man, holding the oxygen machine in his hand and telling everyone: “Nah, he doesn’t need CPR. He’s just holding his breath.” Negligent homicide is still homicide.

Recall, folks, that this is being written about Pete Buttigieg. Pique of this heat in this situation seems totally unjustified, unless you perceive Buttigieg’s comments as a form of blasphemy. It is as if Buttigieg gave a Christian sermon without mentioning God or Jesus, or listed only five Commandments. It’s one thing to observe that someone’s analysis is incomplete. It’s another to read that incompleteness as a kind of willful denial, sit in fury, and tar someone as a lying MF guilty of negligent homicide. As I’ve said before, this sort of response is more religious than rational; it bypasses the bounds of logic into the realm of imposed liturgy, of ritual: We are less to think than to pose and follow.


Yesterday, Buttigieg was large enough to actually telephone Harriot, upon which they had what The Root billed as a “productive” conversation. However, this verdict is based on the assumption that Buttigieg had something to apologize for and needed to be “schooled” on how structural racism works. That is based on a kabuki version of race relations, all about striking poses. Buttigieg has made it glaringly obvious in countless ways that he understands structural racism. He also understands the rituals of our current race debate, amid which, as a candidate for president, it will serve him well to seek out Harriot to “listen” and “acknowledge.”

If Pete Buttigieg has done anything that reveals him as an MF, it was not that night in 2011.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to

John McWhorter is a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He teaches linguistics at Columbia University, hosts the podcast Lexicon Valley, and is the author, most recently, of Words on the Move.


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  • blobid0

ah why should we care when there are thousands of hims running for President?  And white and black folks know why there are not male role models in the black community.  No double talk.  Prison cells.  High rate of black on black and white on black homocides.  Simple.  This dude doesn't know cuz he doesn't wanna know.  But those woke and unwoke can see this.  I grow tired of not only black academics but everyday black folks....who ALL know its wayyyyyyy pass time to  pull our kids back in the micro fold of the Black community.  Yes there are social factors preventing this from happening like ah lemme see... drug problems, job problems....homelessness....I mean the SAME ole stuff.  Back in the day it was worse for black people but many of em still had their hands on their children at ALL times cuz they knew how dangerous it was for them.  Well it's still dangerous people-aint nothing changed!    Klans in police uniforms continue killing our men and boys.  So folks need to stop playin about the problem is the lack of role models.  Bullshit!  Even people outside our country know why there is still a problem in the Black community.  Im just so tired of all this talking....yakking.  The very fact that he mentions Black people at all is a mystery to me.  Who is this guy anyway?    But!   

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