On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) spoke for nearly eight hours in support of immediately passing a “clean” DACA bill with no Republican provisions for immigration reform. While many mainstream news outlets lauded Pelosi’s speech for setting a House record for the longest continuous speech given there since 1909, several failed to report on some bizarre comments that the top Democrat made while telling a story about her grandson’s sixth birthday party.
In her anecdote, Pelosi recounted how her grandson made a birthday wish to have “brown skin and brown eyes” like one of his friends, who was from Guatemala. Pelosi described this occurrence as “so beautiful” that it was “a proud day for me.”
See the video for yourself here, or read the transcript below:
REP. PELOSI: I'm reminded of my own grandson. He’s, um, Irish, English, whatever, whatever, and Italian-American. He is a mix. But he looks more like the other side of the family, shall we say? And he is, he’s, um -- and when he had his, um, sixth -- fifth birthday -- sixth birthday, he had a very close friend whose name is Antonio, who’s from Guatemala, and he has beautiful tan skin and beautiful brown eyes and the rest.
And, um, this was such a proud day for me, because when my grandson blew out the candles on his cake, they said: Did you make a wish?
And he [Antonio] said: Yes, I made a wish.
And he said: Well what is your wish?
He [Antonio] said: I wish I had brown skin and brown eyes like Antonio.
So beautiful. So beautiful. The beauty is in the mix. The face of the future for our country is all-American, and that has many versions.
Of course, if you’ve been paying attention to internal Democratic Party politics for the past couple of years, Pelosi’s comments here wouldn’t shock you at all.
Back in January 2017, Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown, then running to chair the DNC alongside seven other Democrats, spoke at a candidates’ forum and promised to “school” and “shut down” white Democrats who refused to confess to their racism in not sufficiently kowtowing to Black Lives Matter demands. Instead of being rebuked in any way, other DNC chair candidates and audience members at the forum applauded and laughed in appreciation at Brown’s comments.
The following is a transcript from C-SPAN (provided by The Idaho Statesman) of Brown’s remarks [emphasis mine]:
Black lives matter and it makes me sad that we’re even having that conversation and that tells me that white leaders in our party have failed. We have to accept there is prejudice that exists within our own party and we have to be able to have these conversations. We cannot sweep that under the rug. We cannot continue to hide it. We cannot smash voices down when they are trying to scream, “Listen to me, you don’t get it.”
I’m a white woman. I don’t get it. I am pleased and honored to be here today to have the conversation. I am so excited that we’re here. And I am listening. Because that’s my job. My job is to listen to the issues. (Applause)
My job is to listen and be a voice and my job is to shut other white people down when they want to interrupt. (Laughter/applause) My job is to shut other white people down when they want to say, “Oh, no, I’m not prejudiced. I’m a Democrat. I’m accepting.” My job is to make sure that they get that they have privilege and until we shut our mouths and we listen to those people who don’t and we lift our people up so that we all have equity in this country, so that we’re all fighting alongside each other, so that we are all on the same page and we clearly get where we’re going, we’re not going to break through this.
This is not just rhetoric. This is life or death. This moment in our country. The Democratic Party has the opportunity to do something different. We have the opportunity to really confront the fact that we have not been in alignment with our values. We’ve been talking a lot of smack. We need to make sure that our actions and our words and our values all match and around the issue of race we are so far out of alignment, I don’t even know the way back, but I am listening and I am asking and I am talking to people. I am talking to people of color because you have the answers, you can tell me as a leader what I need to do and that’s exactly what I’m going to do, is continue to have those conversations and continue to talk to people and make sure that every single system in our party is designed to give power back to the people. All people, but especially those people who have been disenfranchised in our country since our country started. So please, please, please, please this is a conversation I want to have and I am from Idaho. We are so white. (Laughter) So white. Right? Like I’ve been reaching out and trying to connect to anybody of color that I can find to be honest with me. (Laughter)
I am not a politician. I am a human being trying to do good work and I can’t do it without y’all. So please, please, please, get ahold of me. Sally at wethednc.org. I need schooling and I depend on you and the people around our community to do that so that I can go school the other white people. (Laughter)