Analysis by Brandon Tensley, CNN
Washington (CNN) It was a study in contrasts.
Over the weekend, at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum hosted at the historically black Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, a black student asked Bernie Sanders how he’d advise him if he were his son and stopped by the police.
“I would do my best to identify who that police officer is — in a polite way ask him or her for their name. I would respect what they are doing so that you don’t get shot in the back of the head,” the Vermont senator said, also noting the significance of police accountability.
When asked a similar question by a young black woman, former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t miss a beat: “If you were my daughter, you would be a Caucasian girl and you wouldn’t be pulled over. … What I’d tell you is: That’s what’s wrong. That is what’s wrong. There is institutional racism that still exists.”
And Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts began her response by pointing out, “I had to have a lot of talks with my kids, but I never had to have one about what to do if you get pulled over by the police because the risks are greater for you because of the color of your skin.”
The 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls’ answers distill the kinds of bleak, though important, conversations black parents have been having with their black children for generations. But one thing that makes Sanders’ comment stand out is the word “respect.”