Whites Don't Know What It's Like to Be Poor, Live in the 'Ghetto,' Says Bernie Sanders

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during the Democratic U.S. presidential candidates' debate in Flint, Michigan, March 6, 2016.
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during the Democratic U.S. presidential candidates' debate in Flint, Michigan, March 6, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont came under fire Sunday when he suggested during the Democratic presidential debate in Flint, Michigan that white Americans don't know what it's like to be poor or live in the "ghetto."

"When you're white, you don't know what it's like to be living in a ghetto," said Sanders. "You don't know what it's like to be poor. You don't know what it's like to be hassled when you walk down the street or you get dragged out of a car. And I believe that as a nation in the year 2016, we must be firm in making it clear, we will end institutional racism and reform a broken criminal justice system."

Sanders' comments came in response to a question on racial blind spots from CNN's Don Lemon who asked: "In a speech about policing, the FBI director borrowed a phrase from 'Avenue Q' saying, 'Everybody is a little racist.' So on a personal front, what racial blind spots do you have?"

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

The senator for Vermont had also prefaced his poverty comments with a story from his time as a newly elected congressman in Washington, D.C., about 20 years ago.

Sanders said he was shocked to learn that a fellow congressman, who was black, would avoid taking cabs to escape the humiliation of drivers going past him because of his race.

He also shared a story about an interaction with a young female Black Lives Matter activist who told him that he had no idea what happens on a regular basis between law enforcement and black communities.

"You don't understand the degree to which we are terrorized. ... I'm just talking about everyday activities where police officers are bullying people," Sanders said the woman told him.

Sanders' clumsy bleeding heart moment, which some have branded as racist, did not go down well with many watching the debate.

"Pretty sure Bernie Sanders just said white people don't know how to be poor — 70% of US poverty is rural/white," tweeted Pittsburgh Tribune political reporter, Salena Zito.

Washington Post reporter Janell Ross went a bit deeper in her analysis of Sanders' response explaining that the question asked by Lemon is not one he could have truthfully answered because "a true personal blind spot is typically not known to the holder."

"That answer is all kinds of bad. First, there are the simple but not widely known facts that happen to contradict about several stereotypes. Numerically, there are more poor white Americans than any other group. That's largely because white Americans comprise a shrinking majority of the population. Still, blacks and Latinos are disproportionately poor and more likely to live in a high-poverty neighborhood," she said.

"Additionally, more than 70 percent of black Americans are not poor, and some share of these people have never lived in a ghetto either. Yet black Americans are more likely to live in a neighborhood with lower-quality public facilities (think parks, libraries, schools, stores, etc.) than white Americans with less income," she explained. "This pattern points directly to the continued existence of housing discrimination, and it's many forms."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles