Pete Buttigieg isn’t just white. He is “I don’t tan, I burn” white. This has not escaped his black critics. Harriot notes that Buttigieg attended one of the best private schools in the country and that his mom taught at “an even better, more elite” school. The italics were included by Harriot, just to make sure no one missed the dig. And referring to the 2011 speech that ignited Harriot’s scorched-earth assault, he wrote that Buttigieg’s effort to acknowledge the inequality experienced by black kids was “explained whitely.”
In reality, Buttigieg has been convicted of “white privilege.” The phrase was originally intended to convey that white people in the United States have gained unfair advantages by virtue of being white. That’s indisputable. But the phrase has morphed into more than that.
Detonating the “white privilege” bomb on someone is a way of saying: “You only achieved what you’ve got through systemic inequality and you should be ashamed of yourself for it.” Actress Rosanna Arquette summed up the intended feeling this year in a tweet: “I’m sorry I was born white and privileged. It disgusts me. And I feel so much shame.”