I really do think sometimes people just check their brains at the door when they start discussing politics.
In last night’s Democratic debate, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Hillary Clinton were both asked about whether they have any “racial blind spots.” Sanders has found himself in hot water with angry white Democrats that support Hillary today because of his answer, provided below, in its entirety and with all of its proper subtext and context left intact:
LEMON: Thank you, Secretary.
Senator Sanders, on a personal front, what racial blind spots do you have?
SANDERS: Well, let me just very briefly tell you a story. When I was in one of my first years in Congress, I went to a meeting downtown in Washington, D.C. And I went there with another congressman, an African-American congressman. And then we kind of separated during the meeting. And then I saw him out later on. And he was sitting there waiting and I said, well, let’s go out and get a cab. How come you didn’t go out and get a cab?
He said, no, I don’t get cabs in Washington, D.C. This was 20 years ago. Because he was humiliated by the fact that cabdrivers would go past him because he was black. I couldn’t believe, you know, you just sit there and you say, this man did not take a cab 20 years ago in Washington, D.C. Tell you another story, I was with young people active in the Black Lives Matter movement. A young lady comes up to me and she says, you don’t understand what police do in certain black communities. You don’t understand the degree to which we are terrorized, and I’m not just talking about the horrible shootings that we have seen, which have got to end and we’ve got to hold police officers accountable, I’m just talking about every day activities where police officers are bullying people.
So to answer your question, I would say, and I think it’s similar to what the secretary said, 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.
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.
This morning, I saw some criticism coming Sanders’ way because he used the word “ghetto,” and I wrote this in response:
I was immediately told I wasn’t understanding what the outrage was over.
Apparently, a bunch of white people are now convinced Sanders is out of touch with their plight. This is truly mind-bending to me. Last week we were told Bernie can’t win because he doesn’t focus enough on African American issues (funny thing to say to a guy who was literally arrested for resisting institutional racism). Now, because he misspoke at the end of a long, nuanced answer to a similarly nuanced question about “racial blind spots” he’s got one, but towards white people?
Are Hillary supporters out of their fucking minds on this one?
Bernie has been crisscrossing the country for months, even going into hardcore red states and has been meeting a shit load of poor white people. Are we really so simple-minded that we can’t infer, from the larger context of Bernie’s answer, that he meant that white people’s squalor and poverty may not be the same as people of colors’ because of the added pressure of institutionalized racism? Because that’s what the actual context and subtext of the question and answer were.
But beyond that, I think what we’re seeing is that certain Hillary Hawks have done absolutely no research on Sanders. He grew up in poverty, as a white person. Of course he fucking knows poor white people exist, he used to be one! It’s just the height of cynical political bullshit rhetoric to imply he’s not in touch with poor white folks. Of course he is. Pick a lane, Hillary Hawks. Is he going to lose because he’s not focused on black people enough, or is he going to lose because he doesn’t connect with poor white people?
Tell you what — go down to Kansas. Go to Oklahoma. There, I think, you’ll find a whole shit-ton of poor white people who just voted to hand Bernie Democratic primary victories in those states. So maybe, just maybe you all should calm down about one sentence in a long answer and look at what Bernie really meant, which is no way hard to divine if you try. Here’s what he meant:
“It’s harder being poor and black because of all the other systemic racism black people face that white people don’t.”
If that sentence offends you — build a bridge and get over it. It doesn’t make Bernie out of touch or blind to anything. It just makes you an obvious concern troll, which is fine, but none of us have to take you seriously anymore now, is all I’m saying.