During the debate tonight, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had a poignant discussion over race relations in the United States. Specifically, Lester Holt asked Clinton about a comment she made earlier this week regarding implicit bias in policing.
Holt asked, "Last week you said that we have to do everything possible to improve policing to go right at implicit bias. Do you believe police are implicitly biased against black people?" Clinton's response was particularly astute. She said, "I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police." She later added that "too many of us jump to conclusions about each other" and that "everyone should be respected by the law and everyone should respect the law."
Clinton didn't just admit that all humans are inclined to make decisions with unconscious biases, but she offered a solution. As president, Clinton said she would start the healing between black communities and police by doing what it takes to restore trust between the communities, such as ensuring police receive proper de-escalation training and tightening the gun laws. Clinton also emphasized how she has pushed for criminal justice reform since the beginning of her campaign and spoke specifically about mandatory minimums and urged for their reform. Stressing their ineffectiveness, Clinton called for a plan to "deal with mandatory minimum sentences, which have put too many people away for too long for doing too little."
Donald Trump was pressed on his solution to race relations and offered a vague resolution. After falsely claiming that the homicide rate is increasing to an all-time high, particularly in Chicago, Trump said he would fix race relations with "law and order." Trump also asserted that New York's "stop-and-frisk" policy contributed to the dropping rates of violent crime in New York City. However, The Washington Post countered his claim by bringing up how Mayor Bill de Blasio has decreased stop-and-frisk by 97 percent and the crime rate has remained the same.
It was one of the most candid conversations the candidates have had about race thus far. It is rare to hear a presidential candidate admit humans have implicit biases, but it is a necessary conversation to have — a sentiment President Obama recently mentioned at the slain Houston police officers' memorial in July.
Here's how people on Twitter summarized it:
You may not like everything Clinton is saying about race. But only one person on that stage is taking the subject seriously.— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) September 27, 2016
This one answer on race/racism from Clinton most important of the night.— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) September 27, 2016
Trump on race and crime. Dark, horrible image of America. Clinton's reply was so much more positive.— The Editorial Board (@johnastoehr) September 27, 2016
Given the recent news of black men being killed by police, it's certainly a discussion that deserves the limelight in a presidential debate.