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For an event that promised to be all about their distinctions, Thursday night’s Democratic debate left out what might be the biggest issue currently separating Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders: their huge discrepancy in support from black voters. While Bernie has made significant headway against the “inevitable nominee,” his increase in support has come almost exclusively from white liberals. This may be all well and good in states like Iowa and New Hampshire but outside the white liberal bubble, Sanders has a long hill to climb.

Recent ABC news polls show Clinton currently leading with 67 percent of non-white voter support compared to Sanders’ 28 percent. This could have a huge effect on swaying later primaries, especially when the same poll shows both candidates virtually splitting the white vote — Clinton has 45 percent and Sanders has 43 percent.

Just by looking at both candidates’ records on racial justice, it might be hard to discern why Hillary is so far ahead. Even Bill Clinton himself acknowledges the role his 1994 crime bill played in the mass incarceration of predominantly black men. That, compounded with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act that not only caused a cut in welfare but also perpetuated the myth of blacks as the primary recipients of welfare, might make any voter hesitant to re-up on the Clinton dynasty.

When asked about the disparity in non-white voter support between himself and Clinton, Sanders has often hinted that voters might just not be aware of his history of fighting for racial justice. But while it’s undeniable that black voters are more familiar with the name “Clinton” than they are “Sanders,” the huge support disparity between Hillary and Bernie cannot be explained as simply an issue of name recognition.

While Bernie’s history of fighting racial inequality and endorsements by Dr. Cornel West and Ben Jealous, former head of the NAACP, may point to his credentials as a pro-black candidate, anyone who watched Thursday’s debate knows there’s one issue that matters most to Sanders — Wall Street. Nothing gets that man’s pointer finger flying like the knowledge that this country is being run by “a handful of billionaires.” Of course that’s not to say that racial inequality and economic inequality are unrelated issues. The problem is Bernie’s decision to speak to one and not the other.

You can count on one hand the number of times racism was brought up at Thursday’s debate. And despite the need for Sanders to strike a chord with black voters, Hillary was the only candidate whose opening remarks mentioned the “continuing challenges of racism.”

When Sanders did mention racial inequality, it was in connection to the situation in Flint and in regards to the death penalty. Both instances were honest portrayals of institutional racism, but only providing two points during the entirety of the debate may not be enough to sway black voters.

Economic inequality is an issue that affects all Americans, no matter their skin tone. But today, when the lives of so many black Americans are being threatened by the same force that has sworn to protect them, a candidate that speaks almost exclusively of economic reform can never hope to capture the national consciousness.

Sanders hasn’t always been known to ignore issues of racial inequality. A few months ago, in a speech to students at Liberty University in Virginia, Sanders spoke candidly about how the United States was originally founded on “racist principles.” But speeches like these have become increasingly uncommon. If the debate on Thursday is any indication, Bernie has let racism become a peripheral issue.

Let me be clear. I don’t deny that Sanders possesses some truly progressive views on racial justice. My issue is that he generally only expresses them on his website. And, if we’re being honest, a huge reason that they’re there is because of the pressure Black Lives Matter activists have put on his campaign.

Much of Bernie’s campaign is centered around bringing about a political revolution. But that revolution won’t be possible unless racial justice becomes a primary focus of his campaign. Racism is, after all, a tool of manipulation. Instead of fighting for higher wages and social services, many working Americans are falling prey to nativist delusions. In order to truly spark a political revolution, Sanders must start by naming the forces that divide us.

CAMERON DICHTER is a College sophomore from Philadelphia, studying English. His email address is camd@ “real Talk” usually appears every other Monday.

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