Biden under critisims for controversial ‘you ain’t black’ comment
In an interview on “The Breakfast Club” that aired Friday morning, Biden responded to a question from the show’s co-host, Charlamagne tha God, by saying that, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
African American support was crucial to former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 primary victory, and his ability to turn out black voters in November could make or break the general election for Democrats. So after comments to a popular black radio personality Friday morning induced queasiness among some of his allies, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee eventually apologized later in the day.
Joe Biden appeared Friday on “The Breakfast Club,” where he was interviewed by Charlamagne tha God.
It was Biden’s response to Charlamagne saying he welcomed having Biden back to answer more questions as the show was closing that fanned flames at the start of a holiday weekend.
“If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” Biden replied. The New York Times described it as a “testy exchange” between Biden and Charlamagne. I didn’t get that impression — both men seemed relaxed throughout the segment.
Obviously, after eight years serving as Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden thinks he’s a brother and believes he can make that kind of jocular aside on a black morning show.
What’s important is not Biden’s words, but whether he takes seriously the notion that Democratic voters want more than not-Trump.
As Charlamagne told Mediaite, “We have been loyal to Democrats for a long time. Black people have invested a lot into that party, and the return on investment has not been great.”
“I know that the comments have come off like I was taking the African American vote for granted. But nothing could be further [from] the truth,” Biden said. “I’ve never ever done that, and I’ve earned it every time I’ve run. I was making the point that I have never taken the vote for granted. And in fact, I know in order to win the presidency, I need the African American vote. And it was the driving force, as I said, in the beginning of my campaign [a] year ago, to my being able to win in the first place and win the primary. And it is going to be critical to my winning the presidency.”
Biden’s eyebrow-raising initial statements came during an at-times contentious virtual conversation with Charlamagne, during which the candidate was challenged over his decades long record on racial issues and current contemplation of a black, female running mate.
“I’m not acknowledging anybody who is being considered, but I guarantee you, there are multiple black women being considered. Multiple,” Biden said of his search process for a vice presidential nominee.
It was then that an aide to the Biden campaign could be heard interjecting into the conversation, attempting to cut short the interview. “Thank you so much. That’s really our time. I apologize,” the staffer said.
“The Breakfast Club” produced similarly unvarnished moments with other White House contenders during the Democratic presidential primary, as the New York-based, nationally syndicated hip-hop morning show developed into a popular pit stop where candidates could opine on the state of the race and outline their agendas for African Americans.
Like many other media outlets eschewed by the Biden campaign throughout the primary contest, the former vice president did not appear on the program until after vanquishing his rivals for the party’s nomination.
On Thursday, Biden faced an intent line of questioning from Charlamagne, who pressed him on his reluctance to concede that the 1994 crime bill “was damaging to the black community.”
As a senator from Delaware, Biden helped author and shepherd the far-reaching legislation through Congress. The crime bill has long been accused of disproportionately targeting marginalized communities and people of color.
Although the crime bill dogged Biden’s presidential candidacy in the early stages of the 2020 primary, he refused Thursday to apologize for it and even argued that Hillary Clinton, the previous Democratic presidential nominee, should not have expressed regret for her advocacy of the measure in 2016.
“She was wrong. What happened was, it wasn’t the crime bill. It was the drug legislation. It was the institution of mandatory minimums,” Biden said, pointing to other factors he claimed had produced levels of mass incarceration in the United States.
Biden also sought to respond to concerns among African Americans that Democratic politicians take their votes for granted by emphatically defending his ties to the black community, which was largely credited for contributing to his comeback win in the primary earlier this year.
“They’re the folks [who], as they say it my way, ‘Brung me to the dance.’ That’s how I get elected every single time,” he said, imploring Charlamagne: “Come on man, give me a little break here. This is where I come from.”
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