Minnesota Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips recently apologized for exercising white “privilege” during the Capitol riot, admitting that he tried to “blend in” with Republican colleagues for safety when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building.
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What did he say?
Phillips was recounting the events of Jan. 6 during a special forum in the House of Representatives during which lawmakers could share their experiences and feelings about what had taken place, when he suddenly decided to issue a public apology to his colleagues of color.
“I’m not here this evening to seek sympathy or just to tell my story, [but] rather to make a public apology,” Phillips said. “For recognizing that we were sitting ducks in this room as the chamber was about to be breached, I screamed to my colleagues to ‘follow me, to ‘follow me’ across the aisle to the Republican side of the chamber, so that we could blend in — so that we could blend in.”
Phillips then explained that in desperation and fear for his life, he thought he and other Democratic members of Congress would be safer among the crowd of Republicans.
“For I felt that the insurrectionists who were trying to break down the doors would spare us if they simply mistook us for Republicans,” he continued. “But within moments I recognized that ‘blending in’ was not an option for my colleagues of color.”
The Minnesota Democrat then choked back tears as he apologized to people of color for exercising his privilege in the heat of the moment.
“So I’m here tonight to say to my brothers and sisters in Congress, and all around our country, I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he said. “For I had never understood, really understood, what privilege really means. It took a violent mob of insurrectionists and a lightning bolt moment in this very room.”
What Phillips did not realize — or perhaps he did — is that by making his public apology to people of color he was actually further stoking racial divisions in the country.
According to Pew Research, the 117th Congress is the most racially diverse in history, with 128 non-white lawmakers making up about one-fourth of the whole body. More than 20 of those non-white lawmakers are Republicans.
It’s a wonder how Phillips’ comments should be taken among those Republicans. Would they “blend in”?