Former Vice President Joe Biden probably regrets telling Charlamagne the God, “if you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or for Trump, then you ain't black.”
If you’ve been away from the 24 hour “news” cycle, it’s possible you don’t know about the former VP’s latest gaffe – here’s the rundown.
Biden was being interviewed on the nationally syndicated radio talk show, “The Breakfast Club”, a show hosted by three Black radio personalities. The show caters, primarily, to Black Millennials and Generation Xers.
In a chat with the show’s co-host Charlamagne tha God (yes, that is his name), Biden questioned why anyone Black would vote for Trump. Biden then went on to say what has now been quoted and replayed countless times on Fox, CNN, MSNBC and others.
That quote dominated mainstream media for days. Probably gave “The Breakfast Club” a big bump in the ratings. If you want to hear the full interview, click here.
One of the “perks” of being a black woman married to a white man is that some white people seem to think that my opinion on these matters carries weight.
Following the gaffe, Charlamagne the God showed up everywhere. He was on MSNBC, CNN, Yahoo News and a host of others.
I’m glad he was. He’s a good spokesperson. Charlamagne managed to skirt the “you ain’t black” nonsense and went straight to the real problem—policy issues that detrimentally and disproportionately impact the Black community.
I hadn’t planned to write about the "Presumptive Nominee's" gaffe, but a white acquaintance (whom I only know through Facebook) reached out to ask what I thought of the hoopla.
One of the “perks” of being a black woman married to a white man is that some white people seem to think that my opinion on these matters carries weight. As if I can provide them with insight they couldn’t possible have.
This generally doesn’t bother me. Sadly, I get it. I might be the only Black person they know well enough to reach out to. And therein lies the real problem.
Famed civil rights attorney and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson talks a lot about the power of proximity. If his name rings a bell, he wrote a memoir entitled, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption”. In 2019, his book was turned into a hit movie starring Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson.
Stevenson is a brilliant attorney and powerful storyteller. He has one of the most-watched TED Talks. It’s been seen over 6.5 million times and for good reason.
Stevenson asserts that where there is lack of proximity there will be lack of empathy. And where there is lack of empathy, there you will find injustice.
So, when I said, “I might be the only Black person they know well enough to reach out to. And therein lies the real problem”, I was speaking to the lack of proximity between the races.
These racial divisions are pervasive in American society, a country that holds itself up to the world as the beacon of freedom and democracy yet has more of its citizens behind bars than the next 10 largest countries combined.
It is this lack of proximity, empathy, and ultimately justice that lead to policy decisions that harm large swaths of the Black community. If you ask me, every piece of legislation, no matter how racially neutral on its face, should have a prerequisite racial impact study and report.
You see, the words Biden used aren’t really all that important. What is important is that this country doesn’t seem to care enough to understand why.
Biden’s interview on The Breakfast Club was worth hearing, but all most of America got was that Biden talked about who is and who isn’t Black. And because the country is so segregated, people like my friend are asking the only Black person they know if this is a big deal.
I can assure you that my husband wouldn’t be reaching out to extraneous black people to get the “black” opinion. He’s deeply connected to the black community, or as Stevenson would say, he has proximity.
So back to my acquaintance, a 60ish white woman whose politics is not unlike mine. She sent me a link to an 8-minute Fox segment that had three Black male talking heads as well as Senator Tim Scott weighing in on the Biden remark.
She then DM’d me to ask if I’d seen the video, she wanted my opinion.
I responded (full disclosure: I edited my response to include it in this post. My original response was typed on my phone using my thumbs so it wasn't as lengthy):
"Yes, I saw the Fox video. Tim Scott, the single Black Republican Senator in the U.S., uttered the standard fare of inauthentic "outrage". He claimed Biden’s remarks were “arrogant, insensitive, and painful”. The other talking heads responded reasonably well enough to get asked back to the show the next time Fox needs to have Black people on.
But the problem is these shows sensationalize what, under ordinary circumstances, isn’t much more than an inelegant, awkward statement. Sure, Biden was pandering—using African American vernacular English?! Was he code switching!? C’mon, nobody believes he speaks that way. But, having said that, the media’s focus on his gaffe is still overkill.
The truth is the policy debate (what this discussion should be about) requires more time than mainstream media allows. They quickly get 3-4 talking heads to weigh in, each gets about 2 minutes to discuss an issue that can't be given justice in less than 2 hours. I don't think Biden had a clue what he was stepping into. Although this is the most multiracial country in the world, we consistently fail to understand each other and, as a result, seriously lack racial literacy. Biden was too cavalier—he admitted as much. Time to put this non-issue to bed unless, that is, we really want to take a deep dive."
Joe Biden's remark and the media's response to it put a spotlight on the racial third rail. Our nation's inability to engage in reasonable discourse over the extreme injustices that show up along racial lines has lead to the deaths of untold thousands. In one of his post-Biden interviews, Charlamagne tha God said Biden Will Bring 'Voter Depression'.
In the final analysis, the overwhelming majority of people in this country want Trump gone. For at least the past 55 years, when Black people show up at the polls, Democrats win. Wouldn't it be ironic if the "Corporate Democrat's" consistent tone deafness around race results in the most racist president in contemporary times winning a second term. I sure as hell hope not.
Publisher, LA Progressive