The mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis are criticizing Bernie Sanders for comments he made in Sunday night’s debate, that white Americans “don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto” and “don’t know what it’s like to be poor.” Sybrina Fulton and Lucia McBath have both endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Sanders was answering a question about his racial blind spots; his response, which suggested that poor whites don’t exist and used the word “ghetto,” rankled a lot of people:

On Monday, Sanders tried to clarify the comments to NBC, making it clear that he’s trying to talk about institutional racism and police violence in black communities, but using incredibly outdated language:

“What I meant to say is when you talk about ghettos traditionally, what you’re talking about is African-American communities,” Sanders told a gaggle of reporters on the runway just outside of the campaign’s charter plane.

“I think many white people are not aware of the kinds of pressures and the kind of police oppression that sometimes takes place within the African-American community,” Sanders added.

On Tuesday morning, Hillary for America sent out a press release quoting both Fulton, who is Travyon Martin’s mother, and McBath, the mother of Davis (who was killed by Michael Dunn in Florida in 2014). Fulton and McBath both endorsed Clinton in January.

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In the new press release, Fulton critcized Sanders for suggesting “that the concept of the ghetto is inextricably connected to Black America.” It also criticizes Sanders for “his NRA-backed position on guns.” (Sanders has a long history of D- and F ratings from the NRA, but they do agree on their opposition to a proposed law that would make it easier to sue gun manufacturers.)

In the press release, Fulton also says, in part:

“We need a president who understands Black families don’t all live in ghettos – and who has a plan to end the racial violence that too often plagues families like mine – not someone who says that ‘guns from Vermont are not the same thing as guns in Chicago’ because they are not ‘used for kids in gangs killing other kids or people shooting at police officers.’ Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who doesn’t reduce our community to a caricature, which is a key reason why she must be our next president.”

That is, again, something Sanders has actually said, but the full context makes it clear that he’s drawing a distinction between hunting rifles used for hunting and illegal guns being sold on the street in cities like Chicago and L.A.:

McBath, too, is quoted as accusing Sanders of “toeing the NRA line:”

“That’s why it’s so disappointing to see the NRA defending Senator Sanders on guns. Families need to be able to hold gun manufacturers and dealers accountable when their weapons kill our children. We need a president who will fight for that – not someone who toes the NRA line.”

Clinton has a huge, huge lead on Sanders among black voters; in Michigan, whose primary is today, she’s shown as leading him 76 percent to 21 percent. In Ohio, she leads him 74-14 among black voters.


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.

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Sybrina Fulton and Clinton together in February at a campaign event in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo via AP Images