Joy Reid and Twitter Set Bernie Sanders Straight About Exactly Who Lives/Lived in American Ghettos

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Via Facebook
Via Facebook

Sen. Bernie Sanders came under attack for comments that could be seen as a racial “blind spot” in his understanding of the history of racism in the country in Sunday’s CNN Democratic debate.

The debate focused on a wide array of topics, but at the epicenter of the event was the topic of racism in America.

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sanders catered to a mostly African-American crowd in Flint, Michigan. The town has been at the focal point of an ongoing water crisis that shows signs of extreme environmental racism and state and local government corruption.

Twitter erupted last night after Sen. Sanders told a story about watching a friend and colleague experience the everyday racism and discrimination from cab drivers. He said, “When you’re white you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto…”

Sanders’ critics have repeatedly said that his campaign was not well-equipped to discuss race. Many of his policy ideas focus on class and economic issues that effect the poor specifically but leave out the racial elements at play.

Former NAACP chairman Ben Jealous told NBC News: “Sen. Sanders is from Burlington, he grew up in old Brooklyn, he knows white folks live in ghettos.”

MSNBC journalist Joy Reid responded in an attempt to unpack Sanders’ comments:

The term “ghetto” garnered the most attention and became center of the debate on Twitter. Sanders was criticized for not realizing/mentioning that ghettos in America originated as housing options for eastern and southern Europeans in northern industrialized cities. Ghettos in the 1900s in New York and Chicago were also homes for Jewish immigrants, Catholics and other non-western European people who were not deemed “white.” In fact, the term originated in Europe to describe housing for Jewish people.

Many users also pointed out that whites also live in these poorer communities.

Other users acknowledged that Sanders may only believe that racism only happens to poor Black people.

The incident highlights nuanced ideas about race and economics in the country. To many users, Sanders does not realize that racism happens on social, economic and political levels that includes all Black people, no matter what their class status maybe.

Incidents like football player Kam Chancellor being racially profiled when he was checking out a gym to purchase; Black business executives being assumed to be maids; comedian Chris Rock being pulled over for driving in a nice car; or media icon Oprah being harassed and kicked out of a store — that all trumps class.

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