December 19, 2019 - Yang and Sanders Asked About Dearth of Candidates of Color on Debate Stage

In the sixth Democratic presidential debate, moderator Amna Nawaz asks Andrew Yang: “The Democratic Party relies on black, Hispanic, and Asian voters, but you are the only candidate of color on the stage tonight, and the entire field remains overwhelmingly white. What message do you think this sends to voters of color?” Yang responds, “It’s both an honor and disappointment to be the lone candidate of color on the stage tonight. I miss Kamala, I miss Cory, though I think Cory will be back.” He goes on to describe racial disparities in income as contributing to underrepresentation in positions of power. When Nawaz poses the same question to Sanders, he attempts to switch topics (“I will answer that question, but I wanted to get back to the issue of climate change for a moment, because I do believe this is the existential issue”), but Nawaz pushes him to respond to the question on race. He responds: “I certainly can. Because people of color, in fact, are going to be the people suffering most if we do not deal with climate change. And by the way, we have an obligation up here, if there are not any of our African-American brothers and sisters up here, to speak about an economy in which African-Americans are exploited, where black women die three times at higher rates than white women, where we have a criminal justice system which is racist and broken, disproportionately made up of African-Americans and Latinos and Native Americans who are in jail. So we need an economy that focuses on the needs of oppressed, exploited people, and that is the African-American community.” Sanders’ initial attempt to change topics from racial underrepresentation came under scrutiny among debate-watchers.