What babysitting for migrant farmworkers taught Hillary Clinton about white privilege

At the Iowa Brown & Black Forum Monday night, Hillary Clinton was asked by a college student whether she believes she has benefited from white privilege and in what ways.

“Where do I start?” the former secretary of state responded. “I was born white, middle class in the middle of America. I went to good public schools. I had a very strong supportive family. … I never really knew what was or wasn’t part of the privilege. I just knew that I was a lucky person.”

But Clinton said she remembered a formative experience that gave her a glimpse into how her life was different: babysitting for migrant farmworkers when she was only 11 years old.

“When I was about 11 years old the church asked if we would babysit for the children of migrant workers because the families had to go to the fields and the older kids had to go with them,” Clinton said. “I and a couple of my friends volunteered.”

She said she remembers thinking, “Well, they’re very different from me,” of the children. But then when the kids’ parents and older siblings returned from the fields, she saw them run and embrace them. She realized she had done the same with her father. “And I just felt like, I have a different kind of life. I didn’t call it a particular name, but it was a different life and I knew that.”

All three Democratic candidates participated in the forum, which addresses issues of importance to the country’s growing minority population.