Appearing at the Fusion Channel's 2016 “Brown and Black Forum” in Iowa, Hillary Clinton cited her “strong, supportive family” and “public education” when she was asked how she defines “white privilege.” The forum was held at Drake University, a private institution in Des Moines, and featured Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
During the forum, a member of Drake’s student senate, Thalia Anguiano, asked the former secretary of state, “Can you tell us what the term white privilege means to you, and can you give me an example from your life or career when you think you have benefited from it?” Cheers roses from the audience, which consisted mostly of blacks and Latinos. Asians were not included in the event, nor were they evident on the stage and auditorium.
Clinton answered, “Look, where do I start?”, adding, “For me, look, I was born white, middle-class, in the middle of America. I went to good public schools. I had a very strong, supportive family. I had a lot of great experiences growing up. I went to a wonderful college. I went to law school.” She described herself as “lucky” to have had such a background.
The realization that others came from a different background came to her, she said, when her church called on her and other members to provide baby-sitting for the children of migrant workers. She recalled the hugs the migrant children received. “I remember it like it was yesterday, watching that, and I was thinking, ‘I used to do that with my father.’ I’m watching these kids and their families. They have to work so hard. The place they live is not very nice, and I just felt I had a different kind of life. I didn’t call it a particular name, but it was a different life and I knew that.”
Anguiano was not happy with Clinton's response. "That showed me that she does not fully understand what white privilege is and how oppressed marginalized communities are in our society," Anguiano said. "I feel like I got more of a white privilege understanding from [Sanders and O’Malley] than Clinton tonight." Anguiano is a member of the Latina Leadership Initiative of Des Moines, which according to its website, provides “appropriate leadership training” and mentoring.