Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made a highly questionable statement on Sunday night during a Democratic presidential debate against Hillary Clinton hosted by CNN, after he was asked about racial blind spots he might have as a white man in America.
"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," he said, implying only minorities live in poor neighborhoods and suffer from poverty.
Sanders went on, saying white people, "don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street or you get dragged out of a car. 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."
Ironically, given his comment about not knowing "what it's like to be living in a ghetto," and as he appeared to identify as "white", Sanders is himself Jewish – the first ghetto in history was the Jewish ghetto of Venice established in 1516 CE.
Sanders' statement is of course false, as pointed out by the Washington Free Beacon which noted that a summary of the US poverty rate in 2014 by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 10% of white Americans live in poverty, as do 24% of Hispanic Americans and 26% of black Americans.
The candidate's comment was met with surprise on Twitter, with one user writing: "Wow! Bernie Sanders said 'white people don’t know what it’s like to live in the ghetto'. You can’t fight racism with racist statements sir."
Sanders defeated Clinton in the Maine Democratic caucuses on Sunday. However, front runner Hillary Clinton still has more delegates – 1,130 compared to Sanders’ 499.
It takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.