By Steve Neavling
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton appeared to be caught off guard by questions about race during the Democratic debate in Flint.
CNN anchor Don Lemon asked the candidates about their “racial blind spots.”
“When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to live in a ghetto,” Sanders said.
Many African Americans responded that racism goes beyond class.
“Bad decision to reference ‘living in the ghetto.’ Middle class and wealthy Black people experience racism too,” E.S. tweeted.
Bad decision to reference “living in the ghetto.” Middle class and wealthy Black people experience racism too. https://t.co/cRhsY5pZ1q
— E.S. (@sweetscorp82) March 7, 2016
Sanders also seemed to undermine how entrenched racism is, suggesting that he can end it.
“We are going to end institutional racism,” Sanders said.
Clinton also said she regrets calling some young criminals “super predators” when asked whether she was using coded language for black people. Clinton supported the 1994 Crime Bill, which resulted in the mass incarceration of black people. She has since said it was a mistake.
Lemon, who is black, asked Clinton, “Why should black people trust you to get it right this time?”
Again, Clinton appeared to dodge the question, Lemon said.
“Well, Sen. Sanders voted for it as well,” Clinton responded. “Are you going to ask him the same question?”
In closing remarks, Clinton pledged to tackle racism.
“I do want to take on the barriers of systemic racism,” Clinton said. “I may not have experienced them, but I see the results every single day.”
Sanders ended his closing remarks, saying, “We need in this country a political revolution where ordinary people stand up and reclaim the government that men and women fought and died for.”
So far, African Americans have largely supported Clinton, while Sanders has won big with young people.
Here is a video of Sanders expressing concerns about the 1994 Crime Bill.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.