Many Americans raised an eyebrow after Vermont senator and presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders said during Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate that white Americans do not know how it feels to be poor and live in the ghetto.
“When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto. 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,” Bernie Sanders said during a debate with Hillary Clinton in Flint, Michigan.
Bernie Sanders’ “Ghetto” Comment Sparks Outrage
The senator’s statement came in response to the question posed by 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?”
Bernie Sanders made a reference to his fellow lawmaker, who was a non-white American congressman in Washington, D.C., some 20 years ago, who he said had avoided taking taxis for fear of racial discrimination from the white American drivers,who might refuse to take him as a passenger.
Netizen Henry Krinkle lambasted the remarks of the presidential candidate, which he said “clearly shows that he (Sanders) is completely disconnected from reality.”
“Biggest BS. I know a lot of white people who grew up in ghettos and poor parts of town. I’m tired of hearing whites are privileged. Not true. We grew up about as poor as you can get,” said another netizen named Him Melton.
The 30 million white Americans below the poverty line are routinely erased from public discourse. A thoughtful look: http://t.co/CtMXrfGUSk
— Anil Dash (@anildash) October 7, 2014
Marilyn Maya Mendoza, who identifies herself as a white Latina, disagreed with Sanders by saying that she has spent her childhood years in a “ghetto” Brooklyn Housing Project.
“I have always lived below the poverty line, even though I obtained my college degree at 38. I disagree with Bernie saying only black folks live in ghettos and white people can’t understand what it’s like to be poor. He should know better being in Brooklyn,” she said.
Janell Ross, a seasoned journalist who covers stories on race, gender, immigration, and inequality, pointed out in her Washington Post article that Bernie Sanders might have made such remarks to express his point in brief.
She, however, said that there are more poor white Americans than there are poor in any other minority group.
“First, there are the simple but not widely known facts. They happen to contradict about several stereotypes, some of which Sanders essentially described like fact. Numerically, there are more white Americans than any other groups,” she said.
Bernie Sanders says white people don’t know what it’s like to live in a ‘ghetto.’ About that… https://t.co/dXV70yF6xj
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) March 7, 2016
She added that the number of poor white Americans is nearly three times as high as the number of poor black people.
“That’s largely because white Americans comprise a shrinking majority of the populations. It is true that blacks and Latinos are disproportionately poor and more likely to live in a high-poverty neighborhood,” she said.
Citing reports by the United States Census Bureau on Income and Poverty in the US: 2014, Ross added that nearly 74 percent of black Americans live above the poverty line and do not reside in ghettos. “Yet middle-class black Americans are more likely than their white peers to live in a neighborhood with lower-quality facilities (think parks, libraries, schools, stores, etc.) than white Americans with less income,” she said.
Bernie Sanders Elaborates on the “Ghetto” Remarks
Such patters are proof that discrimination in the form of housing and uneven distribution of resources continues to exist to this day, according to Ross. Meanwhile, former State Secretary Hillary Clinton played it safe by answering that she abhors discrimination of any kind and that she takes seriously the “struggles that non-white Americans face, as well as the worry this injects in their lives,” Ross said.
[Image by Scott Olson, Getty Images]