Former Vice President Joe Biden’s “Breakfast Club” blunder instantly became national news on Friday. In an unscripted moment, he told popular radio host Charlamagne tha God, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” Not even Marie Harf could explain it away.
Team Biden may be thinking/hoping that as the news cycle moves along, this stunningly stupid remark will quickly be forgotten. They will likely be surprised to find that rather than fading, his words have resonated. Judging by the severity of the reaction from some very influential people in the black community, Biden hit a nerve with this statement. And it’s also resurrected the decades old debate about whether or not Democrats take the black vote for granted. (Spoiler alert: They do.)
Journalist Touré asked, “Is it racist in terms of a white man shouldn’t be saying you’re not Black if x? Sure.”
Former National Press Secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign Briahna Joy Gray criticized the comment as well in a tweet. She wrote, “I think it’s racist (and essentialist) to tie someone’s racial or cultural identity to their politics in any case. I disagree with Black Republicans and think they vote against our broadly shared racial interests, but they’re Black. Same with Black moderates. But they’re Black.”
On Sunday morning, Charlamagne tha God, on whose show Biden made the remark, appeared on MSNBC’s “Am Joy.” Host Joy Reid asked him if he believes the Democratic Party takes the black vote for granted. CTG replied:
I know that’s the attitude. That’s why I don’t even care about the words and the lip service and the apology. That’s cool, but the best apology is actually a black agenda. You know, they’ve got to make some real policy commitments to black people. We’ve got to stop acting like the fact that blacks are overrepresented in America when it comes to welfare, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, crime, coronavirus, like that’s no accident.
Like the whole function of systemic racism is to marginalize black people and as the great Dr. Claud Anderson says in the book PowerNomics, white society has an out of sight, out of mind attitude about racism and they don’t like to have any discussions of substance about systemic racism. So when you have black people who have the nerve, the audacity, the unmitigated gall to act like citizens and demand something of our vote, that’s a problem? You’ve got whites telling us to stay in our place and you’ve got black people saying, ‘Oh, stop, now is not the time, you’re gonna get Trump reelected.’
It has to come to a point where we stop putting the burden on black voters to show up for Democrats, and start putting the burden on Democrats to show up for black voters.
Rather than showing up and blindly pulling the lever for Democrats, blacks need to ask for something in return now. As they should.
.@cthagod: It has to come to a point where we stop putting the burden on black voters to show up for Democrats, and start putting the burden on Democrats to show up for black voters. #AMJoy pic.twitter.com/jsYWRI2smw
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) May 24, 2020
In the Twitter thread below, British rapper Zuby, who also happens to be a graduate of Oxford University, tells his followers that Biden’s remarks were not just a “gaffe.” Instead, he says, they “revealed a deeply rooted and pernicious form of racism that is extremely pervasive in left-wing politics.”
Here are Zuby’s remarks (the actual tweets can be viewed here).
You are probably familiar with terms like ‘Uncle Tom’, ‘coon’, ‘house n*gga’, ‘coconut’, ‘Bounty’ and ‘race traitor.’ These slurs are used to demean black people by stripping them of their ‘Blackness.’
ALL black conservatives, libertarians, centrists, or even moderate liberals have been on the receiving end of at least one of these slurs.
Usually levied by another black person, but occasionally by a particularly bold ‘woke white progressive’ type.
This form of ostracisation is particularly painful for Black Americans. Who are largely disconnected from their African roots due to the horrors of slavery.
As a substitute, many cling to a fuzzy concept of ‘Blackness’. For the sake of identity and community.
So, to be considered ‘not black’ is like being an outcast of a community that often already feels alienated..
I am not American and I do not speak on behalf of anybody but myself. These are my own thoughts.
My name is Nzubechukwu and my heritage is of the Igbo tribe in Anambra state in Nigeria.
So NOBODY can take my ‘Blackness’ from me! They will look foolish trying!
Most Black Americans don’t have this SOLID sense of heritage.
People (of all colours) know this and weaponise it against them to prevent individuals from stepping out of the ‘groupthink’.
Anyone who is perceived to go ‘against’ ‘The Black Community’ must be punished.
Left-wing politicians, activists and professional race hustlers have used this psychological warfare to keep black people ‘in check’ and voting for them for many decades.
It’s demeaning, discriminatory, and it strips black people of our agency.
So, when Biden suggested that ‘you ain’t Black’ if you consider voting for Trump instead of him, he exposed a much deeper form of racism.
The sense of ‘ownership’ of Black people. Unearned allegiance and entitlement.
It was a vile statement…
But it was also honest. Because that’s how a lot of these politicians and ‘progressives’ really feel about black people.
Like they own us.
If you were born black, then you will die black. There is no such thing as being ‘politically black’. This is nonsense designed to CONTROL you and keep you needy.
NOBODY can take away your ‘Blackness’. Your ‘Black Card’ is your birthright. Regardless of who you vote for.
I would never dream of telling anyone who they must vote for, based on their skin colour nor genitalia.
That would be extremely arrogant, condescending and discriminatory.
Be VERY suspicious of anybody who talks like that. They want to control your mind.
That is all. I hope you enjoyed my TED talk.
As far as his racial beliefs go, Biden’s mindset seems to be stuck in the 1970s and 80s. Yes, he expresses outrage about racism and I’m sure his views have evolved a bit along the way. But, in his unguarded moments, he’ll blurt out a stupid, presumptuous comment like he did on Friday. And I think that’s the real Joe Biden. I also think many blacks see that. At least Charlamagne tha God and Zuby do.
BET co-founder Robert L. Johnson was enraged over Biden’s comment which he called “out of touch” and “arrogant.” Johnson told Fox News that Biden should apologize to every black person that he meets. He said:
Vice President Biden’s statement today represents the arrogant and out-of-touch attitude of a paternalistic white candidate who has the audacity to tell Black people, the descendants of slaves, that they are not Black unless they vote for him. This proves unequivocally that the Democratic nominee believes that Black people owe him their vote without question; even though, we as Black people know it is exactly the opposite. He should spend the rest of his campaign apologizing to every Black person he meets.
No, this cannot be written off as just another Biden gaffe. For one brief moment, his mask slipped and we saw the truth.
In other words Joe, it was a bigger f***ing deal than you thought.