Bernie Sanders Is Asked to Identify His ‘Racial Blind Spots’ at Debate

He Responds With Eyebrow-Raising Claim About White People

Bernie Sanders speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential primary debate with candidate Hillary Clinton in Flint, Michigan, Sunday. (Screenshot credit CNN video)

By Chris Enloe,

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.

However, leading Black Lives Matter activist and Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRay McKesson praised Sanders, saying his answer was “solid.”

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.


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