Bernie SandersBernie SandersTech firms face skepticism over California housing response Press: Another billionaire need not apply Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick mulling 2020 run: report MORE stumbled on a question at Sunday's debate over whether white Americans can empathize with blacks, stating that white people don't know what it's like to be poor.

"When you are 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 are walking down a street or dragged out of a car," Sanders said when asked about his personal racial blind spots. "We must be firm in making it clear that we will end institutional racism and reform a broken criminal justice system."

The comments immediately caused a stir on Twitter.

DeRay McKesson, a prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, pointed out the awkward phrasing on Twitter but defended the substance of Sanders's answer.

But others on social media did not defend the awkward wording.