Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said during the Democratic debate in Flint, Mich., on March 6: “When you’re White…you don’t know what it’s like to be poor.”
Sanders was trying to make the point that White people in America haven’t had to contend with racism based on skin color. That’s true for contemporary America, but the U.S. senator’s suggestion that White Americans haven’t experienced poverty is untrue.
According to 2014 U.S. Census Bureau figures—the most recent data—there were 46.7 million Americans in poverty, or 14.8 percent, of the U.S. population.
Here’s how those numbers breakdown by the racial and ethnic make-up of the population: There were 19.7 million Whites in poverty, accounting for a poverty rate of 10.1 percent; 10.8 million African Americans in poverty, for a rate of 26.2 percent; 13.1 million Hispanics in poverty, for a rate of 23.6 percent poverty rate; and 2.1 million Asian Americans in poverty, for a rate of 12 percent.