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During the Democratic conflict in financially distressed and racially diverse Flint, Mich., CNN’s Don Lemon inquiry both Hillary Clinton and also Bernie Sanders the exact same question:

"In a speech about policing," Lemon said, "the FBI director, James Comey, borrowed a phrase saying, ‘Everyone is a tiny bit racist.’ What racial blind spot perform you have?"

When it was Sanders’ rotate to answer, he started by talking around several certain examples of gyeongju discrimination. The then attracted a comparison with what whites experience.

"When you’re white, friend don’t understand what it’s choose to be living in a ghetto. Friend don’t recognize what it’s prefer to be poor. Friend don’t know what it’s prefer to it is in hassled once you walk down the street or you get dragged the end of a car," Sanders said.

Several reader asked us to take it a closer look at Sanders’ comment that "when you"re white ... Girlfriend don"t know what it"s choose to be poor."

Sanders" allude was the white people haven’t had to compete with racism based on skin color. But when that moves into the subject of whites’ suffer with poverty, he’s on weak ground. Sanders’ ide that white american haven’t knowledgeable poverty is undercut by statistics calculate by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Since the 1960s, the Census Bureau has actually tracked the numbers and percentages of american by race who have actually an earnings level the puts them in ~ the poor line. This is the most recent data, for 2014:



Number in poverty

Poverty rate

Americans of every races

46.7 million

14.8 percent


19.7 million

10.1 percent


10.8 million

26.2 percent


13.1 million

23.6 percent


2.1 million

12.0 percent

By this measure, Sanders was certainly wrong to indicate that whites haven’t skilled poverty. In 2014, there were actually more white american in poverty -- 19.7 million -- than members of any other group.

Part of the reason, that course, is that there are much more white Americans 보다 there space members of minority teams overall. (Whites account because that 62 percent of the population.) Still, even though whites have a lower poverty price than other groups -- around 10 percent -- also that percentage is fixed trivial.

The numbers are similar if friend raise the income level slightly. At 125 percent that the poverty level, the number of white american rises to about 26.5 million. It is a many white world who space in or near poverty.

"This was a misstatement. A lot of white people know what it’s favor to be poor," stated Julia Isaacs, a senior fellow in ~ the city Institute.

If friend look in ~ the bad as a group, minorities room disproportionately represented. Still, the white populace is huge enough the the bulk of the civilization in poverty space white. That’s to be the case due to the fact that at the very least 1970.

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We calculate the racial and also ethnic assembly of the population at the poverty heat in about 10-year intervals, making use of data for the four categories above. Census data is easily accessible back come 1990 because that all 4 groups, and they exist for all however Asians earlier to about 1970.