One of the dumbest moments in the 2008 election cycle was when, in early 2007, Joe Biden referred to then-Senator Barack Obama as “clean” and “articulate.” It was a thing, and it became a larger discussion about racial microaggressions and racist dog-whistles and such. At the end of the day, Obama used it as a teachable moment and Biden apologized and clarified and then more than a year later, Obama chose Biden as his VP. This current situation feels like another one of those moments: Biden says something racially problematic, there’s a sh-tstorm, he apologizes and it becomes another larger teachable moment. So what happened? Biden said that if you can’t decide whether to vote for him or for Trump, “you ain’t black.”
Joe Biden told a popular African-American radio host Friday morning that anyone struggling to decide whether to support him or President Donald Trump in the general election “ain’t black.” The presumptive Democratic nominee’s comment came at the end of an at times tense interview with Charlamagne tha God on “The Breakfast Club.” A staffer interjected that Biden needed to go, and Charlamagne shot back: “You can’t do that to black media!”
“I do that to white media and black media because my wife has to go on at 6 o’clock,” Biden said, referring to his wife Jill Biden apparently needing to use the broadcast studio they’ve built in their basement in Delaware as the coronavirus pandemic has knocked Biden off the campaign trail. Glancing at his watch, Biden said, “uh oh, I’m in trouble.”
Charlamagne told Biden that he should come to the studio in New York City for another interview, telling the former vice president that “we’ve got more questions.”
“You’ve got more questions?” Biden replied. “Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Charlemagne responded, “It don’t have nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with the fact, I want something for my community.”
“Take a look at my record, man!” Biden shot back.
I’m including the video clip below, at the end of the post. I cringed. Even though I understood the point Biden was trying to make, it was bad and it didn’t land. Hours later, Biden apologized:
[From The NY Times]
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, apologized Friday afternoon for telling a radio host that black voters torn between voting for him and President Trump “ain’t black,” remarks that ignited a firestorm online.
“I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Mr. Biden said in a call with the U.S. Black Chambers. “I shouldn’t have been so cavalier.” He later said that he had not been expected to join the call, a possible sign of a hastily arranged appearance.
“I don’t take it for granted at all,” he said later Friday. “No one, no one, should have to vote for any party based on their race, their religion, their background. There are African-Americans who think that Trump was worth voting for. I don’t think so, I’m prepared to put my record against his. That was the bottom line and it was, it was really unfortunate.”
There was a sh-tstorm on Twitter and #BidenIsRacist was trending on-and-off for days. In my opinion, Joe Biden is a far from perfect ally to many demographics (the African-American community, women) but I also think I’d rather vote for an imperfect ally who has shown the willingness to admit he’s wrong and an ability to learn from his mistakes, rather than a guy who throws a Nazi rally at a Ford plant and talks about “good bloodlines.” I’m also including some tweets I liked about the Biden situation.
The issue wasn’t what Joe Biden said, because it was accurate. The issue was that it came from Biden. It also was clearly a joke that didn’t land. But I’m wondering where all this outrage was yesterday when y’all president declared his public devotion to a Nazi sympathizer.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) May 22, 2020
Joe Biden is going to be on Red Table Talk before the end of the summer at this rate.
— Sylvia (@SylviaObell) May 22, 2020
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.