Pete Buttigieg is 38-years-old, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and is running for President of the United States. He is also white, very white. It’s not his fault, he can’t help it. He can, however, help himself from giving further credence to the nickname “Mayo Pete” by knowing an appropriate food item to bring to a cookout.
Buttigieg—and other Democratic hopefuls like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, and others—attended the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum, hosted by Vice News. It’s where Biden somewhat incoherently declared that he doesn’t consider drunk driving a felony, where Klobuchar was asked if she was the white moderate Martin Luther King Jr warned of, where Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren apparently had a friendly disagreement about Indian food, and where Pete Buttigieg truly did not know what to bring to a potluck hosted by black people.
Vice correspondent Alzo Slade asked Buttigieg, “If Antonia and I invited you to a potluck or barbeque, what are you bringing?”
Buttigieg grimaced. “Oh... is it a breakfast potluck?”
“No, no, like, 4 p.m.,” correspondent Antonia Hylton explained.
“See, you already messed it up, man,” Slade said.
Buttigieg relented. “It’s gonna be chips and salsa.”
Now, there are plenty other more pressing concerns about Buttigieg and race: The lack of confidence from his black constituents in South Bend and South Bend’s inability to retain black police officers due to systemic racism under Buttigieg’s watch. His inability to even pander properly in response to the potluck question—even after eating fried chicken with Al Sharpton for a photo op—should not keep me up at night.
And yet, I can’t help but wonder... why didn’t he just say potato salad, hold the raisins? Perhaps even mac and cheese for a more cold-weather friendly gathering. But more importantly, breakfast potluck? What breakfast dish does Pete Buttigieg make with such confidence that black people would actually invite him to their home before noon to indulge? I have so many questions, so many questions that are likely never to be answered. So instead, I will sit here, haunted by what possessed Buttigieg to go for the chips and salsa answer—the wrong answer—at the Brown & Black Forum.
If there was ever a time to lie to look relatable for a demographic who doesn’t care for him anyway, that was the time.