A Democratic congressman teared up on the floor of the House of Representatives and offered a dramatic apology to his fellow elected officials for having not recognized his white privilege until the January 6 Capitol riot.
During a Thursday evening House discussion, in which members of Congress were invited to “share their stories” about the day Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, Rep. Dean Phillips recalled that he had asked his fellow Democrats to follow him to the Republican side of the chamber in an effort to “blend in” as conservatives.
“But within moments I recognized that blending in was not an option available to my colleagues of color,” Phillips said, his voice beginning to break.
“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,” the congressman continued. “For I had never understood, really understood, what privilege really means.”
He added that it had taken “a violent mob of insurrectionists and a lightning bolt moment in this very room” to come to his realization. “But now I know. Believe me, I really know.”
This evening on the floor of the House, I shared reflections about the January 6th insurrection, a lightning bolt moment, and an apology many years in the making. pic.twitter.com/vS2WERQNz6
— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) February 5, 2021
Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who organized the special House session, immediately praised Phillips’ speech, calling it “extraordinarily powerful” and “moving.” On social media, others celebrated the congressman’s speech as “emotional, powerful and riveting.”
Very moved by Dean Phillips. Not my Representative, but a fellow member of my synagogue in Minneapolis.
— Richard Gibson (@rickgwriter) February 5, 2021
Easily the most understated part of Rep. Dean Phillips’ powerful speech here is the implication that it’s highly unlikely a person of color would be mistaken for a Republican member of Congress.And well… he’s right. https://t.co/T1M9vuT1dC
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) February 5, 2021
On the flip side, however, many ridiculed Phillips’ apology.
Ocasio-Cortez was this week accused of attention-seeking and exaggerating her own experience of the Capitol riot after she said she considered her life to be in danger as events unfolded.
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