During a Friday interview on The breakfast club radio showformer vice president Joe Biden, made a controversial comment in an effort to highlight his strength among black voters. “Well, I’ll tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, you’re not black,” said Biden as he unsubscribed from a conversation with show host, Charlamagne tha God.
“It has nothing to do with Trump, it has to do with the fact – I want something for my community,” Charlamagne replied.
Biden’s comment followed an extensive interview, in which Charlamagne pressed him on everything from his implementation of the 1994 crime law to his decision about a running mate.
His comment included the suspected Democratic nominee, a 77-year-old white male, who attempted to determine blackness, and caused a rapid backlash on social media. Some prominent activists and color writers wondered why Biden took the support of black voters for granted and tried to judge who was black.
Someone must tell Joe Biden that this comment to Charlamagne was a mistake.
Yes, Biden is a much better choice for black people than racist Trump.
But whites shouldn’t tell black people what black is.
Biden still needs to EARN our voice.pic.twitter.com/TPEV5ZpEYi
– Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) May 22, 2020
Aimee Allison from She the People on the Biden comment: “Being ‘not Trump’ is not good enough to inspire the voter’s rise. If he wants to have a chance to win, he no longer has to threaten us with Trump and us give real power, “w / black woman begins as VP https://t.co/Z8hk0wlNGX
– Josh Jamerson (@joshjame) May 22, 2020
Looooong sighs. White politicians should probably refrain from defining blackness for black people. Just a thought.
– Adrianne Shropshire (@AdrianneShrop) May 22, 2020
Symone Sanders, a senior advisor to Biden’s campaign, later commented that Biden had made these statements “as a joke” and reiterated that he pointed out how his record compares to Trump’s. Biden himself also apologized for the comments during a conversation with black business leaders on Friday afternoon, according to CBS News correspondent Ed O’Keefe.
“I shouldn’t have been so arrogant. I have never taken the African American community for granted, ” he said. “Nobody should vote for a party based on their race, their religion, their background.”
The comments at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were banter, but let’s be clear on what the VP said: He made the distinction of taking his record with the African American community against Trump every day. Period.
– Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) May 22, 2020
It is unclear whether the exchange will have a lasting impact on the November elections. But the interview highlighted how Biden relied on support from black voters, without always thinking about what might alienate them. A concern over Biden’s comments is about whether he can encourage voters to go to the polls – and give them a reason to do so, apart from opposition to the president.
Biden’s success in the primaries was heavily driven by black voters
As part of Friday’s interview, Biden repeatedly noted that black voters were central to his success during the democratic primaries. “I told you, when I got to South Carolina, I won every county. I’ve won a bigger share of the black votes than anyone, including Barack, ”he said.
In several major primary states, including South Carolina, Biden won overwhelmingly with black voters compared to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), although this support was stratified by age.
In the critical primary state of South CarolinaFor example, Biden won 61 percent of black voters overall, while Sanders won 17 percent. But in all age groups, older black voters were more likely to support Biden than younger ones. For example, 38 percent of black voters under 30 supported Sanders, while 36 percent supported Biden.
Since becoming the suspected candidate, a recurring concern that has arisen about Biden’s candidacy is whether he will be able encourage a wider base of voters – including those who have been less enthusiastic about him. Younger colored voters were among those who expressed concerns about his comments on Friday and are squarely in the group he should be reaching effectively.
After all, Democrats need a higher turnout to win in this cycle, and black voters, whose turnout rates fell from the 2012 to 2016 elections, are one of the main voice groups to contact.
Biden’s statements on Friday showed that he and his campaign are still struggling with this issue.