Pete Buttigieg, Beto O'Rourke and John Hickenlooper. Photos: Getty Images

The 2020 presidential election's Democratic primaries are breaking new ground for how white politicians talk about race in America.

The big picture: Increasingly frank rhetoric around systemic racism and inequity resembles a "woke litmus test," Democratic strategist Joel Payne told the AP.

White politicians commenting on race, as noted by AP:

  • John Hickenlooper described his "shame" that some white people "kind of looked the other way during these lynching incidents."
  • Beto O'Rourke admitted he “clearly had advantages” as a white man.
  • Elizabeth Warren acknowledged black single mothers struggled more than she did.
  • Tim Ryan said he didn't grow up around many black people.
  • Pete Buttigieg said "any white candidate needs to show a level of consciousness around issues like white privilege.”
  • Kirsten Gillibrand: “I guess I don’t see it that way" when asked whether she'd benefited from white privilege.

Between the lines: "Joe Biden’s presidential bid ... could test whether it’s politically wise for candidates to speak so openly about race," the AP reports.

  • "Although he has positioned himself as a champion of racial equality, the former vice president is expected to wage a campaign aimed at winning back the working-class white voters who swung to Trump in 2016."

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