According to senator Bernie Sanders; white people do not understand what it is like to be poor in the ghetto. This was in response to a question about the candidate’s racial blind spots.
Sanders told a moving story about how he, as a newly elected congressman in Washington, D.C., about 20 years ago, he was shocked to learn that a fellow congressman, who was black, avoided taking cabs because it was humiliating for him to see cabs passing him by because of his race.
He also mentioned that he was humbled when a younger black woman active in the Black Lives Matter movement came up and told him that he simply doesn’t understand what police do in many black communities on a frequent basis, much beyond the shootings that grab the most attention.
“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 recounted the woman telling him.
Leading to his final statements of, “When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto,” Sanders concluded. “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.”
The answer immediately generated loads of criticism, and much confusion on social media for the ridiculous implication that living in the “ghetto” is exclusively for black people, and that all black people understand what it is like to live in a low-income area.
The following day after receiving so much backlash on the comment Sanders responded with, “What I meant to say is when you talk about ghettos, traditionally what you’re talking about is African-American communities.”
On Monday Sanders continued to defend his answer saying, “What I meant by that is, I think that many white people are not aware of the kinds of pressures and the kind of police oppression that sometimes takes place within the African-American community,” Sanders said.
“In the African-American communities, you have police officers abusing people, and that is the point that I tried to make.”
Sanders has said that no other candidate has spoken on the topic of poverty as much as he has, nor have they proposed specific ideas as his to address the issues of poverty.
“I don’t want to be lectured about talking about poverty, whether it’s white, black, Latino,” he said.