Ghet·to – a part of a city, especially a slum area, occupied by a minority group or groups
Sen. Bernie Sanders may have torpedoed his chances of rallying undecided Black voters around his candidacy for the White House.
Sanders, the socialist from Vermont, is under fire this week for using the word “ghetto” in a reference to African-American families.
It was a self-inflicted political dagger to the heart of his campaign — and angry reaction was swift.
Even the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis — two young men killed in high-profile shootings — have stepped up to criticize Sanders.
“Sen. Sanders is wrong to suggest that the concept of the ghetto is inextricably connected to Black America, just as he was wrong to yet again defend his NRA-backed position on guns,” Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Here’s what happened: During the recent CNN debate in Flint, Michigan, about what “racial blind spots” he had, Sanders said this: “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.”
Black folks took to social media immediately to condemn Sanders, saying the implication incorrectly suggests that only African-Americans live in poverty. Statistics show, in fact, that many more whites live below the poverty line, particularly in rural areas of the country.
“We need a president who understands Black families don’t all live in ghettos — and who has a plan to end the racial violence that too often plagues families like mine,” Fulton said.
Sanders made an ill-advised comment while he was honestly trying to explain the mindset of some whites about Blacks. But in trying to explain white attitudes about Blacks, he inadvertently, and ironically, made the point about his own racial blind spots.
A year ago, this may have been be a blip on the screen, but in the thick of a heated presidential campaign, for some, it’s now a firestorm.