Aug. 14, 2020

Race in America with Former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges

As national support for police reform and racial equality grows, the value of listening to different points of view only increases. On Friday, Aug. 14 at 12:00 p.m. ET, Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart spoke with former mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges about her view that white liberals were often the obstacle to change during her tenure, and how her experience in a traditionally progressive city shaped her ideas on how cities can best move forward. In a Washington Post Live conversation, we asked why she thinks liberals too often “settled for the illusions of change,” and her thought process when faced with an 18-day protest surrounding a Minneapolis police precinct after two officers shot and killed an unarmed Black man in 2015.
Former Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges says President Trump’s calls for “law and order” are dog whistles for White racism. “Law and order is code for needing to make sure Black people stay in their place. The president is continuing to use effective dog whistles for white racism to try and say ‘Hey, White people. I will keep your whiteness as comfortable as possible.’…The call to law and order isn’t merely a call to law and order…it’s like ‘Avengers assemble!’ for racism.”
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Former Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges says she believes White liberals can be obstacles to change because ‘Whiteness wants comfort, it doesn’t want change.’ ‘We want the comfort of feeling like we’re doing something about the racism in the world…But we don’t want to be thrusted to the discomfort of actually changing how we go about our lives.”
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Former Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges says the presence of unidentified federal officers in cities like Portland is ‘unacceptable’ and speaks to President Trump pursuing an ‘authoritarian agenda.’ “As someone who believes in the Constitution…It is clear that President Trump has been pursuing an authoritarian agenda…It’s completely unacceptable, it’s completely wrong. It’s not how even the flawed America we live in should be.”
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When asked how much of an obstacle police unions were to efforts to reform the police department, former Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges said, “The union gives white people in cities a way out, to say it’s not us, it’s the union…We don’t rise up ourselves and say this has got to change and I’m willing to change with it.”
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Betsy Hodges
Former Minneapolis Mayor
Betsy Hodges was the 47th mayor of Minneapolis. Mayor Hodges currently serves as an advisor to cities and mayors to support progressive policy and improve equitable outcomes for people of color. She is a Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equity (AFRE) and recently served as a Residential Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics. She is a senior Advisor to the Mayors Innovation Project and Cities United, serves on the Kauffman Foundation’s Mayor’s Council, and is on the Board of Advisors for the African American Mayors Association. She has written about politics and race for the New York Times, CNN, and the Huffington Post. Mayor Hodges is married to Gary Cunningham, President and CEO of Prosperity Now. They live in Washington, DC with their two cats. You can find her on Twitter at @BetsyHodges, where more than one member of the cast of Star Trek: Discovery follows her.
Jonathan Capehart
The Washington Post
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