Broadcast Journalist Gwen Ifill Sprinkled Black Girl Magic All Over the Democratic Debate

Her stellar job during Thursday’s face-off—especially her pointed question about white people and race—had many saying she was the night’s winner, hands down.

Gwen Ifill speaks during a taping of 'Meet the Press' at the NBC studios May 25, 2008, in Washington, D.C. Ifill discussed topics related to the presidential election in November 2008. 
Gwen Ifill speaks during a taping of 'Meet the Press' at the NBC studios May 25, 2008, in Washington, D.C. Ifill discussed topics related to the presidential election in November 2008.  Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press

Journal-isms will be on hiatus until further notice.

Gwen Ifill, co-moderator of Thursday’s Democratic presidential candidates debate on PBS, said, “Let me turn this on its head, because when we talk about race in this country, we always talk about African-Americans, people of color. I want to talk about white people, OK?” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., above, and rival Hillary Clinton responded. (video)

Co-Moderator Asks Democrats About White People

Gwen Ifill came to slay,” Julia Craven wrote Friday for the Huffington Post.

“At Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Milwaukee, Ifill, a veteran PBS journalist, flipped the typical narrative of race in the U.S. on Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with a vital question about what it means to be white in America.

” ‘Let me turn this on its head, because when we talk about race in this country, we always talk about African-Americans, people of color,’ Ifill began, in all her black girl glory. ‘I want to talk about white people, OK?

” ‘So many people will be surprised to find out that we are sitting in one of the most racially polarized metropolitan areas in the country,’ Ifill continued, after reassuring the audience and the candidates that she really did want to talk about white people.

” ‘By the middle of this century, the nation is going to be majority non-white. Our public schools are already there. If working-class white Americans are about to be outnumbered, are already underemployed in many cases, and one study found they are dying sooner, don’t they have a reason to be resentful?’

“Wow. Ifill, who made history with co-anchor Judy Woodruff as the first all-female team to host a major presidential debate, took an important step in advancing mainstream narratives on race and racism. As America becomes less white, many white people are becoming more conservative on race relations. This may explain some of Donald Trump’s appeal to white middle-class voters.

“Alas, the candidates’ responses were typical, reeking of ‘all lives matter’ without deeply engaging the question. . . .”

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