Candidates are talking race issues for 2016

In a time of high racial tension in the U.S., 2016 candidates are talking about the sensitive issues.

Presidential hopefuls for 2016 have been pushed to talk about issues with race relations in the country in light of racially charged shootings and racial equality protests. While some candidates have been outspoken on the issue for years, others have shied away.

Donald Trump

The New York businessman has a long track record on relationships with “the blacks,” as he puts it, claiming on Fox & Friends in 2011 that he is “the least racist person there is,” citing the 2005 Apprentice winner Randal Pinkett, who is black.

Trump caused a media stir with other comments that he made regarding other races. During his presidential run announcement speech in June, Trump came under fire for seemingly blaming immigrants for U.S. crime problems.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said in the speech. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

These comments led to Univision and NBC ending relationships with Trump.

However, Trump believes that he would win black and Hispanic voters because of the “poor standard” President Barack Obama has set, making them “worse (off) now than just about ever.” In 2011, Trump also expressed grievances with Obama’s support rate among black voters, which was 85 percent in March 2011. Trump, like many others at the time, believed that minorities were supporting Obama because of his race. Trump said the statistics were “very, very frightening numbers.”

He has also been outspoken regarding racial divides on crime rates in his home city.

“According to Bill O’Reilly, 80 percent of all the shootings in New York City are blacks — if you add Hispanics that figure goes to 98 percent, 1 percent white,” Trump tweeted. “Sadly, the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by Blacks and Hispanics — a tough subject — must be discussed.”

Conversely, the New York Police Department reported that 70 percent of the people arrested for shootings were black, 25.4 percent Hispanic, 2.9 percent white and 1.6 percent Asian. Also, 55.8 percent of victims were also black and 29.6 percent Hispanic, whereas 10.7 percent of victims were white and 3.5 percent asian.

Ben Carson

Carson grew up in Detroit in the 1960s, a time when “slavery had long been abolished, but widespread racism remained.” In his book “America the Beautiful,” Carson describes the first time he “came of age” with racism in America:

“My brother and I were playing in Franklin Park in the Roxbury section of Boston when I wandered away alone under a bridge, where a group of older white boys approached me and began calling me names. “‘Hey, boy, we don't allow your kind over here,’ one of them said. He looked at the others. ‘Let's drown him in the lake.’ I could tell they weren't just taunting me, trying to scare me. They were serious, and I turned and ran from there faster than I had ever run before in my life. It was a shocking introduction for a little boy to the racism that ran through America at the time.”

However, Carson described in an opinion piece for The Washington Times in 2014 how he believes that race does not give one an “underdog” status, but rather life circumstances should be considered regarding affirmative action.

In his book, Carson also addresses the difference between freedom of speech and hate speech, saying that free speech is one of the most important freedoms Americans are offered. However, he questioned the Supreme Court’s decision in Snyder v. Phelps, which held that hurtful speech is still free speech. The case was brought about after the Westboro Baptist Church protested near the funeral of Matthew Snyder, the son of a gay man and a soldier who died in the Iraq war. They held up signs with “God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11.”

“I actually have some doubts about that legal decision, because the signs, obscenity and noise infringe upon the rights of other Americans to assemble peacefully for the burial of one of their loved ones,” Carson said in “America the Beautiful.” “If my right to free speech causes you actual harm, it becomes time to curtail my speech.”

Hillary Clinton

From first lady to senator to secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has a long record in politics. She has repeatedly spoken of her belief that America needs to fix racism issues.

“For anyone to assert that (racism) is not a problem in America is to deny the reality in front of our very eyes,” Clinton said at a Democratic Primary Debate in 2007. “You can look at the thousands of African Americans left behind by their government with Katrina. You can look at the opportunity gap. So yes, we have come a long way, but yes, we have a long way to go. The march is not finished, and I hope that all of us, the Democratic candidates, will demonstrate clearly that the work is yet to be done. And we call on everyone to be foot soldiers in that revolution to finish the job.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People gave Clinton a ranking of 96 percent on her stance for affirmative action, and the American Civil Liberties Union gave her a 60 percent rating for civil rights issues.

Clinton trademarked her own phrase for an alternative to affirmative action in her 1996 book, “It Takes A Village.”

“There is probably no more important task parents — and the rest of the village — face than raising children not only to tolerate but to respect the differences among people and to recognize the rewards that come from serving others,” Clinton said. “I call this affirmative living — the positive energy we derive from taking pride in who we are and from having the confidence and moral grounding to reach out to those who are different.”

Clinton voted for the DREAM Act of 2007, which allowed certain undocumented immigrants to be granted a permanent resident status.

One of Clinton’s childhood schoolmates, Karen Williamson, told author Paul Kengor in “God and Hillary Clinton” that she and other African-American classmates predicted Clinton to be the first woman president. They attributed her political inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, but said she was never radical, and was more willing to work with the system then change it.

Bernie Sanders

The Vermont senator has been a prominent political supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, tweeting about the movement as recently as Oct. 16.

“Black lives matter,” Sanders wrote. “And the reason those words matter is the African-American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she’s going to end up dead in jail, or their kids are going to get shot. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system.”

Sanders has also spoken out against the proportion of minorities in prison to whites.

“The latest data found that 22 percent of males in prison were Hispanic and 37 percent were African American,” Sanders tweeted. “That is unacceptable.”

Sanders scored 97 percent with the NAACP, indicating a pro-Affirmative Action stance.

Carly Fiorina

Although she has not spoken on race relations as much as other candidates, Fiorina told Politico in that the racist tone in immigration talks needs to end.

"There has been a very unfortunate racist tone that has emerged in a lot of the discussion about immigration and that's inexcusable,” Fiorina said. “We must be a country that welcomes legal immigrants to this country. We must be a country that recognizes that we have industries like agriculture that have depended on temporary migrant labor for generations.”

Jeb Bush

Being married to a Mexican immigrant, Bush is asked often asked questions about immigration and race. His wife, Columba, did not speak English when they were married. As Florida’s governor, he voted in support of a vote that would make state licensure exams have a Spanish version available for free.

Bush’s economic plan has focused on boosting the gross domestic product of the nation, which he said will allow cities — which are mainly made of minority groups — to prosper.

"Four percent growth is more enterprise in urban areas, more people moving in, a higher tax base and more revenues — in other words, a better chance to save our cities,” he said. “We can do this as a country. We can grow at a pace that lifts up everybody, and there is no excuse for not trying.”

Bush banned affirmative action in his state by executive order. He replaced it with One Florida, which aimed to admit minority students without explicit racial preference by guaranteeing the top 20 percent of students admittance and financial aid for college. According to Politifact, black enrollment declined by less than 1 percent — from 14 to 13 — while hispanic enrollment nearly doubled to 24 percent after the plan was implemented. Earlier this year, Bush praised South Carolina for taking down their Confederate flags, calling it a “racist” symbol. He did the same thing for Florida in 2001.

“Iif you’re trying to lean forward rather than live in the past, you want to eliminate the barriers that create disagreements, and so I did,” Bush said at a campaign stop in South Carolina this summer..

Bush has been rated at 93 percent by the ACLU, indicating a pro-civil rights voting record.

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