Last week during an interview on “The Breakfast Club,” Biden made the comment that “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for [him] or Trump, then you ain’t black.” This shouldn’t be dismissed as a gaffe — it’s not funny. It’s serious and reveals the long-running and difficult relationship between blacks and those in the white liberal establishment who try to police how black people think and behave.
Biden’s condescending and disrespectful response to co-host Charlamagne tha God was an attempt to control the thinking of the black electorate. Biden thinks black people have no place questioning anyone who has “Democrat” behind their name during elections, even if their policies offer no real progress for blacks.
I strongly doubt that Biden would have made the same racially tinged comments regarding white voters he if he appeared on a talk show that catered to the needs of the white working class. In that scenario, he would have at least tried to persuade.
But he didn’t even make an argument during the interview with tha God. Frustrated that the interview wasn’t going the way he wanted, Biden chose to police who is black and who isn’t during this crucial election.
He tried to walk back the remarks hours later, but it was too late. The remarks represent a pivotal moment in the history of the Democratic Party in its longstanding and abusive relationship with blacks — especially since they came from the author of the destructive 1994 crime bill, which increased mass incarceration in black communities. Biden has faced little or no backlash for that omnibus bill, which is still impacting many black families today.
One would expect that Biden would be on an atonement tour for the crime bill. But because powerful white men like him have ready and reliable allies in the older black political establishment, he sees no reason to make amends. The master-servant relationship that exists between some black gatekeepers and their formidable partners in the white liberal powerhouse excuses the behaviors of the likes of Biden. That is why few prominent black politicos came out on national television to condemn his comments.
It further underscores why Biden can speak out confidently on a show as if he is the oracle of black authenticity. Black people don’t owe him anything. It’s actually the other way ’round. The central challenge that blacks face in this dispensation, which Biden exemplifies, is to be able to rightfully interpret the relationship between race, politics and power when dealing with the party that claims to own the majority real estate of black electoral power.
A general lack of analysis of the one-sided relationship between blacks and the party along with a dearth of demand for party accountability in exchange for black support, is why there are so many conflicting tendencies that undermine the push for true reform. Blacks can’t operate under the myth of party loyalty because Democrats hands aren’t clean.
Biden does not have any standing to determine the blackness of anyone black regardless of who he is running against for president.
Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which broadcasts at 11 a.m. weekdays on 910AM.
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