Bernie Sanders Needs to Know Black People Aren’t All Poor and From Ghettos

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Needs to Know Black People Aren’t All Poor and From Ghettos

During Sunday night’s Democratic debate, the presidential hopeful's statements about Black Lives Matter backfired.

Published March 7, 2016

On the topic of Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders has a narrow view.

The Democratic hopeful was slammed for statements he made during Sunday night’s debate about white people not knowing “what it’s like to be living in a ghetto” or “what it’s like to be poor.”

Here’s the thing, Black people don’t just come from poor ghettos. In fact, 38.4% of all Black households in 2009 were middle class while 28.8% accounted for working class blacks living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Furthermore, middle class Black American communities have become well established since the 1990s and are no longer exclusively connected to lower income blacks. Examples of thriving middle class black communities include South Dekalb in Atlanta, Prince George’s County in Maryland and Baldwin Hills in Los Angeles.

“Can someone tell @BernieSanders to be Black in America isn’t limited to living in a ghetto or being poor?” journalist Roland Martin commented on Twitter, adding, “Racism hits middle class Blacks 2.”

Sanders added, “I believe as a nation in the year 2016 we must be firm in making it clear we will end institutionalized racism and reform a broken criminal justice system.”

Now you’re talking.

But let’s be clear. In the same way that Black Americans don’t all come from poor ghettos, Black Lives Matter isn’t solely focused on those areas either. The movement brings all classes of the Black community together to confront and denounce discrimination and brutality against black children.

Class and ethnic differences melt away in the face of common racial struggle,” Tufts University sociologist Orly Clerge, who is working on a book about diversity of Black identity in the United States, said in a previous interview. “Many middle-class black families — foreign-and native born — noted that their neighborhoods are just as hyper-policed as low-income Black neighborhoods.”

“How far are they from @Eminem’s old hood #8Mile?” another viewer tweeted in response to Sanders’ comments Sunday night. “Maybe HE can tell @BernieSanders about being white & poor in the ghetto!”

Another added, “Bernie Sanders has to stop saying 'ghetto' to refer to poor communities of color. It’s racist, actually.”

(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Written by Zayda Rivera


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