Senator Bernie Sanders was asked during the CCN Democratic debate about “racial blind spots” . In his response he use anecdotes about how a Black Lives Matter protestor felt “terrorized” and that he didn’t “understand the degree to which we (black people) are terrorized”. He then stated the following (emphasis added).
“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,” Sanders said.
So according to his statement, Mr. Sanders does not believe that there any poor white people. It also indicates that he believes that all black people are poor and live in the “ghetto”. Much of the push back from his statement revolve around his use of the word “ghetto” as being racist but nobody seems to have picked up on the second part of his statement that I feel really sheds light on the mindset of many Democrats and Progressives in general. That mindset is that white people are privileged and are all wealthier than other races, especially the black race. This is far from the truth and is divisive and condescending to minorities as a whole.
I would think that there are many white people that would take offense to Sanders comment because they do live in the “ghetto” and are struggling to get by. I cannot pretend to know what it is like in the inner city such as Philadelphia or Chicago because I don’t live in a large city, nor would I want to but I do know what it is like to be poor. I know how it feels to go to a church to get food because you don’t have enough money to buy it yourself. I know what is like to have your electricity turned off in the middle of Summer because you could not pay the bill and having to ask someone for help. According to Sanders, I , as a white man, do not know about being poor.
Today, I am doing much better. I have worked into a good job and put myself through college to earn an associates degree and plan to work on a higher degree at some point. This did not happen overnight, nor did it happen by accident or by luck. It took hard work and determination as well as taking responsibility for my own life and getting away from the culture that I was in, mainly the drug culture. I found that the more I was around people both black and white that were in the same shape I was in I tended to blame others, the system, those who were rich, and “corporate America” for my situation. It was not until I decided to get out of that environment, by learning to drive a truck, that I finally started to see that I was to blame for my situation.
The change in my attitude did not occur overnight either. For many years I felt that I was not being treated fairly as I saw people with less skill than me get more money and better homes. I lived with my sister for a few years and then with my in-laws for a number of years more before I finally was able, with a little help, to get out on my own with my wife. My outlook on life changed from blaming others to taking responsibility for my life over the course of 15 years. During that time I discovered that many poor people view the world just the way I did and it was not limited to the black community. Many of the poor people with whom I associated held the same feelings about being harassed by the police. Most of them had at least one story about an officer stopping them on the street. Even I had that experience while walking to the store.
I also learned something about the “welfare state” as some call it. During the poorest time in my life, I tried to get assistance through the welfare office only to be told that because I am male there was nothing they could do for me. My wife, before I meet her tried to get assistance and was told that because the father of her child lived in the home that she would not qualify. This made me wonder about the system itself. I concluded that the system is rigged to encourage women to remain single and have children without a father present. As I looked back on the history, that seems like what happened especially in the black community where I met a lot a women who told me they couldn’t have their “baby’s daddy” living with them or they would lose their money.
So contrary to Mr. Sanders statement, white people can be poor and not all black people are poor. Not all poor people live in a “ghetto” in some inter city dump. Some poor people live in the country where some of them may not have a lot of money but are pretty self-sufficient by growing their own food. Not every poor person will remain that way their entire life, like me some will pull themselves up and out of the cycle. The best thing Washington DC can do for the poor is to get out of the way of business, lower or end all the corporate taxes (I will have a blog on this soon) and let the free market go on like it should. We would see manufacturing boom in this country again. With it many people will be able to find work and as the positions are filled and there are fewer workers available, wage will rise and that will lead to an economic boom which we have not seen in a long time.