Sanders’ ‘Ghetto’ Remark Hurts His Reputation With Minorities

Bernie Sanders on Sunday, March 6, during a Democratic presidential debate in Flint, Michigan, made a comment addressing “racial blind spots” throughout the country which was quickly denounced on social media. The quote from Sanders was as follows:

“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.”

This statement from the Senator is one in a long line of his attempts to gain a foothold with minority voters. Many people on social media responded to the comment from Sanders, stating the obvious fact that there are white people who are poor. He released a statement on Monday clarifying that what he meant was that when people talk about ghettos, it is typically a conversation about African-American communities.

The way in which Sanders’ comments on race have been taken out of context and made to seem unpleasant speak to his lack of experience in political redirect that transcends racial lines. Hillary Clinton, his opponent, has decades of experience in honing her speech to cross racial lines, and has a full staff of editors to ensure that she remains palatable to minority groups in the age of political correctness.

Sanders has often made references to criminal justice reform and voting rights in his speeches and debates to try to gain traction with minority communities. He also attempted to soften his opinion of gun control laws to acknowledge the fear of shooting that unarmed African-Americans face.

Despite these attempts he still seems distant to minority voters. Last July, Sanders was interrupted by Black Lives Matter activists who were upset because race relations does not seem to be an issue that the candidate prioritizes. Sanders statement from that rally, which many people criticized as unsympathetic to the movement:

    “…I’ve spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights. If you don’t want me to be here, that’s okay. I don’t want to out-scream you. ”

Indeed, Bernie Sanders has been an activist for civil rights his entire life. He was arrested in 1963 while participating in a civil-rights sit-in to protest segregation in Chicago schools. However, it seems that he has had trouble making himself accessible to minority voters during his presidential campaign.

However presidential candidates prioritize and plan to address racial inequality and civil rights, the American people dissect every statement they make, and it is easy to lose traction in certain communities of voters because of a misinterpreted remark.

Featured Image via Flickr, available under a Creative Commons license.