#BernieSanders’ “#Ghetto” Comment: Racist or Spot-On? | #FlintDebate on Blog#42

Columnist Charles Blow asks pointed questions about Bernie Sanders’ usage of the word ‘ghetto’ in one of his answers in the Flint debate.

Here is Charles Blow in a homemade video after the debate on March 6, 2016:

Bernie Sanders was asked about his own awareness of white privilege twice during the debate. It is important to consider both answers to both questions because, together, they provide a more complete picture of the senator’s understanding of racism and all of its moving parts.  First, let’s watch Sanders answer an audience member about white privilege:

In a follow up, Sanders’ answer to Don Lemon’s own question is important as what Sanders talked about is the aspect of racism that directly addresses respectability or, in other words, the inescapable reach of racial bias no matter where you are on America’s social ladder:


Would it have been better if Sanders was fully conversant in today’s vernacular of racial parlance and had used terms such as ‘respectability,’ ‘inner city,’ ‘urban,’ and many others? Absolutely. Instead, he used language that hearkens back both to his roots as a child growing up in the Jewish ghetto that was Brooklyn, and that of a socially-conscious young adult in the civil rights movements of the 60’s and 70’s,

Taken together, if anything, Sanders demonstrated that he understands how much more vulnerable someone who is Black, poor, and lives in the inner city, or in particular states, is to police brutality and institutional racism. At the same time, he also demonstrated, from his interactions with Black peers, that he understood the indignities of “respectability’ his friend and fellow member of Congress suffered while doing the simplest thing: trying to hail a cab.

In these days of PC/non-PC talk, it is just as easy to take statements like Sanders’ at face value, without thinking about the context they were made in, if that is how one wants to perceive them. If one wants to be fair, then one must take the nearly 20 minutes of that segment in their entirety. As I’ve written in other posts, Sanders never really left “the movement” and as journalist Greg Palast said in an interview, Sanders has been “the only white guy to show up” at Congressional Black Caucus meetings.

I know, I know… Bernie Sanders’ civil rights work in the 60’s doesn’t count and the Congressional Black Caucus PAC (but not the caucus itself) endorsed Hillary.

Politics are dirty and we live in an age of racial inflammation. Sanders is old-fashioned and, to many, looks like the stereotypical subconscious image of what a racist oppressor would look like if we met him. But, that other cliche: looks can be deceiving, applies here and should trump that instinctual reaction.


Bernie Sanders’ ancestral home in Poland grapples with painful history

Słopnice is like much of Poland, once home to the biggest Jewish community in the world. It does not obfuscate its Jewish heritage; nothing remains of it to hide

 in Słopnice, Poland

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Bernie Sanders and his elder brother Larry wanted to visit their grandmother’s village – the one their father, Eli, emigrated from aged 17. But for Sołtys, the visit was a daunting prospect requiring much diplomacy. He feared Poland’s painful history of occupation, mass emigration and the Holocaust might feed suspicions among the 6,500 villagers that the Americans were coming to claim property in the Beskid valley.

Read the rest of this article on Guardian.com

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