Hillary Clinton Speaks ‘Directly to White People’ in Wake of Police Shooting: ‘This Is Not Who We Are’

The Democratic presidential nominee said that systemic racism must be addressed.

Hillary Clinton in 2010
Hillary Clinton in 2010 TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

Calling in to The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton weighed in on the police shooting of Terence Crutcher, saying that “systemic racism” needs to be addressed, and a part of that is “speaking directly to white people.”

“This horrible shooting—again. How many times do we have to see this in our country?” Clinton asked. “In Tulsa? An unarmed man? With his hands in the air? I mean, this is just unbearable, and it needs to be intolerable.

“You know, maybe I can, by speaking directly to white people, say, ‘Look, this is not who we are.’ We’ve got to do everything possible to improve policing, to go right at implicit bias,” Clinton said. “There are good, honorable, cool-headed police officers. … We can do better. We have got to rein in what is absolutely inexplicable, and we’ve got to have law enforcement respect communities and communities respect law enforcement because they have to work together.”

Though a proponent of the disastrous federal 1994 crime bill, Clinton has attempted to center criminal-justice reform in her 2016 campaign. During her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in July, Clinton said that it was important that Americans listen to one another: “Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of young black and Latino men and women who face the effects of systemic racism and are made to feel like their lives are disposable.”

At the NAACP convention in July, Clinton also spoke directly to what white Americans needed to do to dismantle racism: “We white Americans need to do a better job of listening when African Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers you face every day. We need to recognize our privilege and and practice humility, rather than assume our experiences are everyone’s experiences.”

Clinton has clearly been listening to criticism and taking the words of black activists into consideration. Last August, when activist Julius King told the former secretary of state that white people shouldn’t tell black people how to deal with institutional violence and systemic racism, Clinton said, “Well, I’m not telling you, I’m just telling you to tell me.”

Jones attempted to clarify his comments. “What I mean to say is that this is and has always been a white problem of violence,” he continued. “There’s not much that we can do [as black people] to stop the violence against us.”

Jones said that he was in her space and making these statements as “respectfully” as he could, to which Clinton responded sharply, “Respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with the very real problems.”

Her remarks during that meeting were broadly—and rightly—criticized.

President Barack Obama has not issued a statement on Crutcher’s shooting death or on the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday.

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has spoken out about Crutcher’s and Scott’s deaths, tweeting:

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has not issued a statement.

Donald Trump—the “law and order” candidate who has incited violence against black people at campaign stops across the country and called the Black Lives Matter movement a “threat”—is probably somewhere with David Duke trying to “make America great again.”

Kirsten West Savali is a cultural critic and an associate editor at The Root. She was named to Ebony magazine’s 2015 “Power 100” list and awarded a 2015 Harry Frank Guggenheim Fellowship. Her provocative commentary explores the intersections of race, social justice, religion, feminism, politics and pop culture. Follow her on Twitter. 

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