Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders received a strong reaction on Twitter Sunday night after being asked during the CNN Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, to cite his "racial blindspots."
The question, which came from CNN's Don Lemon, first received an answer from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said that being white in America, she knows that she's "never had the experience" that so many other Americans, particularly African-Americans, have had.
Sanders, on the other hand, launched into two anecdotes: one of an African-American colleague who once told him that cabbies in Washington, D.C., won't pick him up because of his skin color and another about a Black Lives Matter protestor who once told him that he doesn't understand how "terrorized" African-Americans sometimes feel. Sanders said the latter experience was humbling.
"You don't understand the degree to which we are terrorized," he recounted the protester telling him. "I'm just talking about everyday activities where police officers are bullying people."
"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," Sanders said. "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' answer — specifically his implication that a "ghetto" is exclusively where poor, African-Americans live — drew a strong reaction from Twitter.
He knows that all Black people don't live in ghettos, right?— Jonathan Capehart (@Jonathan Capehart) 1457316807.0
Of course, many white Americans know exactly what it's like to "live in the ghetto." Many, including immigrants have, do and did.— Joy Reid (@Joy Reid) 1457317143.0
We have to end the view that black=ghetto=poor. And that was implied in the comments of a Democratic presidential candidate. (Sanders.)— Perry Bacon Jr. (@Perry Bacon Jr.) 1457317216.0
However, leading Black Lives Matter activist and Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRay McKesson praised Sanders, saying his answer was "solid."
Besides Bernie's comment about "living in the ghetto," I thought his answer re: white privilege was solid. #DemDebate— deray (@deray) 1457316930.0
Sanders, who represents Vermont in the Senate, has struggled to make inroads with minority voters during the 2016 election cycle — an area where Clinton continues to excel.
Sanders on racial blind spot: "When you're white, you don't know what it's like to be living in a ghetto." pic.twitter.com/ckjMmED1fz— Mashable News (@MashableNews) March 7, 2016
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