Newt Gingrich: It is more dangerous to be black in America

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks before introducing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Sharonville Convention Center, Wednesday, July 6, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks before introducing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Sharonville Convention Center on Wednesday in Cincinnati. (Photo: John Minchillo/AP)

In the wake of three high-profile shootings involving African-Americans, Newt Gingrich and his former “Crossfire” co-panelist Van Jones took to Facebook Live on Friday afternoon to discuss the nature of the racial tensions plaguing the U.S.

“It is more dangerous to be black in America,” said Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and one of the favorites to join the Republican ticket as Donald Trump’s vice president. “It’s both more dangerous because of crime — which is the Chicago story — but it is more dangerous that it’s substantially more likely to end up in a situation where the police don’t respect you and where you could easily get killed. Sometimes it’s difficult for whites to appreciate how real that is, it’s an everyday danger.

“It took me a long time — and a number of people talking to me over the years — to get a sense of this. If you are a normal white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively underestimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk.”

“If you are African-American, you are raising your teenage boys to be very careful in obeying the police because literally their lives are at risk and they can see it on television,” GIngrich also said. “At the same time, if you’re a normal Caucasian, you don’t see that, that’s not part of your experience.”

Gingrich and Jones agreed that the U.S. needs to come together to work on mediating this cultural conflict rather than continuing to point fingers. The former speaker called for a push for resolution in cities, like Chicago, that are wrought with police-civilian tensions. The two former “Crossfire” co-panelists again agreed that living as a black American and an American police officer are starkly different yet can be equally polarizing experiences.

Gingrich and Jones concluded the live stream by lauding the progress that the U.S. has made since Gingrich spent his formative years in the legally racially segregated state of Georgia in the 1960s.

“We’ve come a fair distance in that … we now have a black mayor of Atlanta, for example, and have had a series of them, in fact. We have John Lewis who went from marching on Selma to a Democratic whip in the U.S. Congress. We’ve made progress, but for some reason, we stalled out on the cultural, economic, practical progress we needed to parallel the fight over legality.”

Gingrich’s rhetoric is a departure from his previous statements on race and race relations in the U.S.

In a 2015 appearance on “Face the Nation,” Gingrich said that politicians, such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, should be praised for their policing policies.

“The two people who have done the most to save African-American lives in New York City were Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg,” he said. “Their policing techniques, led by Chief Bratton, who invented them, actually have saved thousands of lives by focusing on crime in a very intelligent way.”

Giuliani has been criticized for overseeing discord between the New York City Police Department and area communities, including the police shooting of Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo in 1999. As mayor, he also implemented controversial stop-and-frisk policies that allowed officers to search suspicious persons; however, many civil rights activists say those policies led to racial profiling.

Gingrich also said that President Obama has hurt policing efforts with his “divisive” comments on race in criminal justice.

“You have the first African-American president,” he said. “You have an African-American attorney general. And six years into their effort, we’re in some ways further apart, not closer together.”

The conversation with Jones was a departure from his appearance on Fox News earlier Friday, where Gingrich criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Well, baloney! All American lives matter, of all backgrounds. And we ought to challenge the Hillary Clintons and the Bernie Sanderses to say that American lives matter — all American lives.”


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Andrew Bahl also contributed reporting to this story.