An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

Dear Senator Sanders –

During your last debate with Hillary Clinton, you were asked a question about your racial blind spots. You first told a couple of anecdotes – first about your African American colleague, and then about your conversation with a young lady from the Black Lives Matter movement. Both were meant to illustrate how you, as a white person, couldn’t see their challenges and experience their struggles. It’s true that you probably cannot see the world through their eyes and experience their difficulties firsthand, but then you went on to say something so stupid, and so offensive, that I felt the need to respond – as a white person, as someone who raised herself from nothing, and as someone who resents the hell out of your contention that somehow white people don’t know struggles and agonies.

So to answer your question, I would say, and I think it’s similar to what the secretary said, 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.

I find your assertion offensive as well as wrong. You are part of the same crowd that screeches “PRIVILEGE!!!” without knowing or understanding those about whom you screech it.

ghettoIn 2013, nearly 19 million white people were living in poverty. In 2014, that number rose to 19.7 million. Whites also receive social services such as food stamps and Medicaid at higher rates than African Americans, and yet you claim they don’t know what it’s like to be poor? Have you lost your mind, or are you simply that out of touch?

I guess you don’t care about the 73,000+ people in your own state of Vermont – predominantly white, by the way – living below the poverty line. They don’t matter, right?

White people don’t know what it’s like to live in a ghetto?

Those many call “poor white trash” without even thinking about the offensive racial undertones this moniker evokes would beg to differ.

Alcohol abuse, oxy abuse, blight, odd jobs, teen pregnancies… if you don’t think those are all issues white people face by the millions, perhaps you should do some reading about white poverty in America.

Perhaps someone who’s primarily been sucking off the government teat for the majority of his life, while he worked to relieve others of their earnings you won’t understand this, but I’m going to try and whitesplain it to you anyway.

Poverty is living in a cockroach-infested dump, having bugs crawl on your face and in your ears while you sleep, as your parents – both of whom have Master’s Degrees – work 10-hour days washing dishes and performing other menial jobs so that you could have chicken and plain, white rice for dinner.

Poverty is eating ice cubes during the summer while the rest of the kids you know buy ice cream from the corner grocery store.

Poverty is watching your parents dig through your neighbors’ garbage in hopes of finding something for you to wear to school.

Poverty is watching your dad hammer together pieces of wood he found at a garbage dump to make a makeshift arm chair and cover it with an old wool blanket to make it look more appealing.

Poverty is sitting in front an old, black and white 15-inch television your dad found in your neighbors’ trash, and that he fixed with some copper wire and aluminum foil and watching cartoons to learn English.

Poverty is having kids in school make fun of you, because you wore the same clothes to school as the day before. No, it doesn’t matter that your mom washed them by hand and made them clean.

Poverty is walking around with patches all over your worn clothes and having the kids at school ridicule your old, rusty lunchbox – a lunchbox that also came from the neighbors’ trash.

Poverty is being jealous of another kid in school, because his parents could afford strawberry milk, while your parents insisted you didn’t need the extra flavor.

Poverty is treasuring the little box of colored rubber bands your mom splurged on for you, and using a different color every day. If you couldn’t change your clothes every day, at least you could have pigtails with hair ties of a different color.

And perhaps, someone like you, who didn’t make a steady paycheck until he was in his 40s, because he spent all his time agitating for the socialist cause pissing and moaning about those pesky rich people not giving him enough free shit for doing next to nothing doesn’t understand the concept of a ghetto, but let me tell you…

When your elderly grandpa takes a walk outside to look through other people’s trash for some toys for you, and gets beaten up and mugged by two urban youts, who steal his meager plastic bag containing some toys from said trash and leave him bleeding on the sidewalk…

…that’s when you know you’re living in the ghetto!

So yeah, white people – people like me – know real poverty. We know the ghetto. We know what it’s like to be indigent and not know where our next meal is coming from.

You know what, though?

People like me scramble and scrape all their lives to leave the ghetto behind and make something of ourselves instead of dragging the sewer and the squalor around with us all our lives as an excuse for our failures!

We achieve and succeed because of sheer determination, strength, commitment, and grit, and we don’t expose the oozing sores of our squalid, wretched, filthy beginnings for others to worship as a virtue or exploit as a political tool.

We simply fight every day of our lives to leave the indigence behind, while people like you find new and inventive ways to diminish and denigrate our experiences, because somehow we managed to leave the filth behind.

Much like your ignorant economic policies strive to punish success…

…your clueless, imbecilic ethics belittle and demean it.

The immoral callousness in your statement reflects the unethical, corrupt crassness of your economic philosophy.

And neither one belongs in civilized society.


18 responses

  1. While I agree that Sanders mangled the question last night in the debate, it isn’t like he didn’t grow up with almost nothing himself.

    Bernie’s main problem is that for him, everything boils down to economics. You are either filthy rich, or you are dirt poor. In many respects, we have been heading in that direction for a while now.

    There is another problem that Bernie has, and that is he is color blind. He doesn’t really see ethnic differences in the abstract. So it makes it harder for him to talk about “racial blind spots” because of this. He doesn’t break things down by race, he breaks things down by class.

    You have to understand WHY Bernie is running. To understand that, you have to first know WHO Bernie is.

    I’ve been following Bernie Sanders since around 2004 when he was a regular feature on the Thom Hartmann show on Fridays. The Bernie you hear now is exactly the same Bernie he was back then.

    Bernie is running NOT to win, but to continue to push the Democratic nominee to the Left. That’s it. He is no real intention of winning, nor does he really expect to. But he WILL be competitive.

    And his plan is working. Hillary is adopting much of his language and positions, and has been talking about these things more. She was FOR the TPP, calling it the “gold standard of trade agreements” at the time, but has since been shamed into being against it by Bernie Sanders.


    1. Lets look at Bernies neighborhood where he grew up “Ave L / Bedford Ave median real estate price is $833,535, which is more expensive than 95.1% of the neighborhoods in New York and 97.1% of the neighborhoods in the U.S.

      The average rental price in Ave L / Bedford Ave is currently $2,096, based on NeighborhoodScout’s exclusive analysis. The average rental cost in this neighborhood is higher than 87.8% of the neighborhoods in New York.”

      Bernies brother said as recently as the end of January 2016 that as kids they didnt lack for food or clothing as kids,but major purchases line new rugs or curtains were difficult to afford. I too cannot afford to recarpet the place I live in. Thankfully curtains are far cheaper now than in the 1940’s. Cheap curtains then were about $3 which in 2016 dollars is nearly $40.Decent light weight curtains were $6.98 (over 90 in todays dollars). Jeans for boys were $3.19 which is the equivalent of $41.45.

      Now think about that. When is the last time you paid $40 for a pair of childrens jeans (not teenagers but actual children)? If you are swinging that you arent poor.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Bernie wasn’t indigent. I’ve read enough about him to know that. He’s obsessed with class. He doesn’t understand economics, and only sees rich and poor. This I know.

      That said, it’s a silly plan. Hillary will do and say anything to get elected. That doesn’t mean she’s moving to the left. She’s TALKING to the left.


  2. Sanders is as phony as Clinton and Trump. Trump has had everything handed to him since Day One. Clinton grew up in Park Ridge, IL, an expensive upper-class suburb of Chicago. Sanders has never impressed me with anything but his ability to flipflop to suit the news media. And no, he does not understand economics because he never had to do the shopping, never had to figure out a household budget, never had to decide if using coupons was really better than finding a retail store with the same stuff at lower prices, and maybe still use the coupons to get a further discount.

    Not one of those idiot politicians know anything about economics because they don’t have to and have never had to do the simple arithmetic that says chicken at $1.49/lb is a lot better than a year ago at $2.49/lb, so stock the freezer now.

    Curtains? I have a sewing machine. I can make curtains. I’ve done that. I’ve made my own clothes. I enjoyed it. I had my own labels made at the fabric store for a while. This is hands-on work, something these jackasses don’t understand and never will. If it doesn’t have a high price tag and a designer label, regardless of mediocre quality of manufacture, they won’t wear it. Where do Trump’s suits come from? Certainly not from Men’s Wearhouse.

    Not one of these imbecilic land sharks has a clue about anything except how to spend YOUR money that YOU earned on someone else, for the sole purpose of getting into office and staying there.

    They can’t do anything for themselves because they don’t know how. They can’t make anything from scratch. They can’t cook. They can’t even make their own beds. I’d be surprised if they even wipe their own asses, but that’s just me.

    I actually do think that not one of these jackasses personified has ever put in the hours on low-level minimum wage jobs that people at WalMart and McDonald’s have put in. They’ve never worked double shifts to pay the bills and put food on the table, or taken extra jobs just to make ends meet. Those are the real economics the rest of us live with.

    They just up there, above it all, while the rest of us peones are down here rolling around in the mud. And that is right where they want us to stay.

    Hunger Games, anyone?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nicki, eloquent, as usual. I can remember as a kid, being jealous of a neighbor kid because the patches on his jeans were sown on while mine were the iron on jobs that always started to peel up at the corners.
    I will also note that as we pulled ourselves up through hard work and determination we were generous in giving back to charities. It may not have been large amounts, but as a percentage of what we earned it was way more than what some of the ivory tower jackasses tithe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Many of your stories of poverty hit home with me. I washed our clothes in ditch water. We would put the water in a large barrel, sprinkle alum on the top so the mud would sink, and a week later use the water for washing. We would boil that water for drinking, etc. We had no electricity. Many of our clothes were given to us. Once a year we would get underwear for Christmas and so forth.

    Yes, my late-hubby’s early life was even worse as a foster child. In one of the places he lived, he was given scraps from the table to eat and slept in the barn with the horses and dogs.

    Color me white–

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Smackdown with a vengeance, delivered.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] SUPPOSING HE CAN READ, OF COURSE: An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders. […]


  7. Paul L. Quandt

    Just found your site. Seems to have something to say, so I bookmarked it and will be back.



  8. A few thoughts:
    (a) Capitalism in the West has separated poverty from destitution, rendering poverty to be little more than a convenient bureaucratic definition;
    (b) There is a world of difference between complaining about where you are vs. doing something about it yourself. Who else cares as much about you, except you?
    (c) WInding up at the bottom of the economic chain is not the same as starting out at the bottom of the economic chain.
    (d) Those “jobs that Americans won’t do” used to be done by teenagers.


  9. Damn right Nicki! My mother was second oldest of 10 children and moved into a YWCA at the age of 15 because there was no room and hardly any food in the house for her. I’m sick to death of being told how privileged whites are by OTHER whites looking to score points to enhance THEIR careers. Bernie Panders is a typical MARXIST who, when looking at the world, sees only $ signs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Economic reductionism taken to the max — that’s the thing with old-school leftists. The more recent variety see “oppression” of all varieties.


  11. So right. Someone should tie Bernie to a chair and make him watch Rich Hill.


  12. ToursLepantoVienna

    Well said, Nicki.

    My maternal grandfather was a poor prairie wheat farmer. His family had it better during the 30s than the roving bands of unemployed white men who’d show up at the farm gate looking for some work and a meal or two. At least they had food to eat and a place to sleep.

    A couple of generations later, I was the first university graduate in our family, and my family is living the (North) American dream. That dream was bought and paid for just as much by the sweat and misery of those who preceded me as by whatever I’ve managed to achieve on my own.

    Almost all white people have stories like that. Whatever we now have has been earned, over many generations, and is well deserved.

    “white privilege” my ass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But…but…but… it’s easier for you to get out of the ghetto, because you’re white! Or something….


  13. A friend sent me your blog. Bravo! I know a liberal professor who soothes his white guilt by fancying himself to be a civil rights activist. He needs to read this. Maybe I will send it to him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You should! Not that he’ll read it, but we have to push back somehow, right?


%d bloggers like this: