Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Friday that white people don’t understand what it means to be black in the U.S.
Speaking frankly on Facebook Live, Gingrich, who is a contender for the Republican vice presidential nomination, reacted to the multiple racially-charged shootings that took place this week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Falcon Heights, Minnesota; and Dallas.
“It took me a long time, and a number of people talking to me through the years to get a sense of this,” Gingrich said. “If you are a normal, white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk.”
Gingrich said that the U.S. had “come a fair distance” with regard to civil rights, but that he believed it had “stalled out on the cultural, economic, practical progress we needed.” He said the country must have a conversation on what steps can be taken to “fix it on both sides.”
Gingrich, who is on the short list to be presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s vice president, said there is a stark contrast in the ways people relate to police shootings: African American parents routinely have to teach their teenage boys “to be very careful in obeying the police because literally their lives are at risk and they can see it on television.”
“At the same time, if you’re a normal Caucasian you don’t see that,” Gingrich said. “That’s not part of your experience.”