So one thing that may be taking places by storm is something Bernie Sander’s said in the debate the other day. I’ll have the relevant clip below (at least until it gets censored off the net). The relevant bit starts about 40 seconds in to the clip.
“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 to get dragged out of a car.” – Bernie Sanders, 2016
Now, according to my coworker, some are accounting these statements to be racist. I wish to dash these rumors. These statements are not racist.
They are however, factually incorrect. Grossly incorrect. What Sanders has done here is place a statement which is fairly factually correct at the start, so that you will suppose that the rest of the statements are factually correct as well. I’ll break it down.
When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto…
It is true that most whites have no idea what it is like living in a Ghetto. This is because most whites do not live in the parts of cities that are “the ghetto” anymore. They once did, however, and you can find the remains of these places in most major cities, were you will have areas that are (or were) known as “little Italy”, “little Ireland”, Little Poland, Chinatown, etc, etc etc. These places may in fact be rather nice places to live now, but originally they were the Ghettos where immigrants from various countries were shoved off to because they couldn’t afford anywhere else to live. They gathered with their fellow country men, made a little piece of home in the Americas, and then proceeded to work hard to turn what was once a slum into a place where they would all want to live.
But white people certainly did live in Ghettos. In fact, I find it surprising that Sanders, a man who seems to be proud of his Jewish heritage, would even state that white people do not know what it is like to live in a Ghetto, giving that so many Jews from his Parent’s Generation grew up in them over in Europe. Indeed, there were Jewish “ghettos” here in the USA as there was for any Immigrant population, but the Jewish people certainly made theirs into very nice places for Jewish people to live.
However, I will conceed in a post-WWII America though, most whites have never lived in a Ghetto. However, a great number of whites do live in what are called “Trailer Parks.” Which in many ways are inferior to ghettos. Especially in initial quality of housing.
…You (white people) don’t know what it’s like to be poor…
A quick Bing search reveals that about 10% of all “Whites” are in fact poor.
This Article, by The Root, presents some numbers back from 2013. While I’m sure the numbers have changed, probably for the worse, I’m going to use them as an example.
According to Census figures in 2013, 18.9 million whites are poor. That’s 8 million more poor white people than poor black people, and more than 5 million more than those who identify as Latino. A majority of those benefiting from programs like food stamps and Medicaid are white, too.
Now, this is just what is counted as “poor.” This does not count the number of people who are “above” the poverty line but still in fact could be considered poor in terms of their economic stability and how well they can pay their expenses. However, the “poverty line” is a fairly arbitrary number so the actual number of “poor” whites could in fact be higher. I say this from personal observation of my home state and surrounding states, where most of the people around here are in fact pretty damn poor, but are not often counted among the “poor.”
Still, that is no small number. 1 out of every 10 white people is poor, and it can be bet that many of those other ten know at least one poor person, statistically speaking. And the number of poor whites outnumbers the number of poor blacks by several million. It is factual to say that White people know Poverty.
…You (white people) don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street…
I could be pedantic and point out that everyone is hassled on the street, that if you believe certain schools of feminism 1 in every 5 women is sexually harassed regardless of her race, and a dozen other examples, but I’ll be kind and assume that Sanders meant “hassled by the cops.”
In which case…this is a lie. At least were I live. Everyone has been hassled by the cops. Typically for being in violation of some tiny law. I once got a ticket because my car didn’t jerk hard enough when i braked at a stop sign. Oh sure, my car was at a dead stop for several moments, but it didn’t pop it like it was hot, so I got a ticket. I don’t know a single white person who is happy to see a cop anywhere near them unless they are reporting a crime. Generally, we’re all terrified we’ve done something to get ourselves hassled.
Which, you know, it’s a cop’s job to hassle people into keeping public order. But be it by cops or by civilians, everyone gets hassled.
…Or to get dragged out of a car.
So, again, we can assume that Sanders means “dragged out of their car by police,” in which cast I’m pretty sure a single season of Cops would prove him devastatingly wrong. That being said, if my research is correct, more whites are the victims of carjackings than blacks (the carjacker many times being black in origin). So….I’m pretty sure that in both cases again, Whites are pretty damn familure with being dragged out of their cars.
And I can’t recall any instance where a black person dragged from their car by police then experienced several days of rape and torture which then ended in their murder. At least, not in the last 30 years or so. I could be wrong about that, in which case…I’m just going to say equality. Everyone gets dicked over.
What Sanders said is factually incorrect in a gross manner. But it isn’t racist. However, there is a part to this that does become racist.
Most people are familiar with Apologia in the form of Christian Apologetics, the art of taking something nominally considered bad or culturally inappropriate and then explaining away that it really means something else that is in fact good or appropriate.
To give an example, my co-worker insisted that despite the fact we had both seen the video and “Whites…do not know what it’s like to be poor” is a direct and unaltered quote, insisted that Sanders was not really saying that “Whites don’t know what it’s like to be poor,” but rather was speaking in the context of “white privilege” means “whites don’t know what it’s like to be poor because even poor whites have privileges that poor blacks don’t.”
Or something like that.
My co-worker is not alone. Many out there like Sanders. They love Sanders. He’s the grandpa everyone loves who is going to make the world a better place for everyone ever! And so when Sanders makes a statement that is provably wrong, the apologia starts in earnest to “give the true meaning of our heavenly father’s words.”
But I do not accept Apologia. Sanders made his statement. It was wrong. No amount of fancy rhetoric is going to change the facts.