Nationwide — When CNN’s Don Lemon asked Senator Bernie Sanders to address his racial blind spots during the Democratic debate this past Sunday, his response was more controversial than he may have realized. He answered, “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 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.”
Lilly Workneh, a Huffington Post columnist, wrote:
Sanders missed four major points:
* There are plenty of black people who aren’t poor.
* There are plenty of black people who don’t live in ghettos.
* There are plenty of white people who are poor.
* There are plenty of white people who live in ghettos.
The truth is that although the national poverty rate among black households is 26 percent, that still leaves 76% of Black households who are not considered poor. It can even be said based on those statistics that most African Americans are not poor.
But how did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answer to the same question?
Her answer, according to critics, was actually a good one.
Well, Don, if I could, I think being a white person in the United States of America, I know that I have never had the experience that so many people, the people in this audience have had. And I think it’s incumbent upon me and what I have been trying to talk about during this campaign is to urge white people to think about what it is like to have “the talk” with your kids, scared that your sons or daughters, even, could get in trouble for no good reason whatsoever like Sandra Bland and end up dead in a jail in Texas.
And I have spent a lot of time with the mothers of African-American children who have lost them, Trayvon Martin’s mother. And I’ve gotten to know them. I’ve listened to them. And it has been incredibly humbling because I can’t pretend to have the experience that you have had and others have had. But I will do everything that I possibly can to not only do the best to understand and to empathize, but to tear down the barriers of systemic racism that are in the criminal justice system, in the employment system, in the education and health care system.
That is what I will try to do to deal with what I know is the racism that still stalks our country.
Democrats better at talking to Blacks?
Political analysts say that’s the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats, they say, typically know how to talk to people of color, especially African-Americans.
Jonathan Capehart, a writer for the Washington Post, says, “As a former first lady of Arkansas, former first lady of the United States and former Senator from New York, Clinton can speak to Blacks with a fluency that lets African Americans know she gets it and gets them.”
But some African-Americans have also been criticizing Clinton’s response to recent questions about when her husband, former President Bill Clinton, created the “three strikes and you’re out rule” which led to the imprisonment of more African American men during his presidency than any other president in history.