Former Speaker Newt Gingrich on Friday said white Americans "don't understand being black in America" as he reflected on a series of shootings across the nation this week.
“It took me a long time and a number of people talking to me over the years to begin to get a sense of this: If you are a normal, white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively underestimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk," Gingrich said.
The former Speaker and potential Donald Trump vice presidential pick discussed race during a live Facebook video with liberal commentator Van Jones.
The discussion came after police killed black men in Baton Rouge, La., and suburban St. Paul, Minn., earlier this week, and a gunman killed five police officers in Dallas on Thursday night during a protest against the earlier killings.
"We've got to rethink what it means to be American and how we function together as an extended family," Gingrich said.
Jones said it was a signal of division in the country if one grew emotional this week over video of a black man bleeding to death in a car but not over news of police officers killed, or vice-versa.
"When you're one country and you're one people, you cry at every funeral," Jones said.
Jones remarked that he was raised to be "beyond respectful" of law enforcement.
Gingrich spoke of his upbringing in a largely integrated society before arriving in Georgia in 1960.
“It was still legally segregated, which meant that the local sheriff and the National Guard and the government at large would impose by force taking away rights from Americans," he said.
"We’ve come a fair distance — we have a black mayor of Atlanta, and have had a series of them. John LewisJohn LewisDebt ceiling fight pits corporate America against Republicans House Democrats unveil legislation to curtail presidential power Michelle Obama looks to mobilize voters for midterms MORE has gone from marching on Selma to the Democratic whip in the U.S. Congress. We've made progress. But for some reason we’ve stalled out on the cultural, economic, practical progress we needed to parallel the fight over legality."