I was offended but not surprised by the comment made by Former Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden. During an interview with host Charlamagne Tha God on the Breakfast Club, a popular black radio program Friday, May 22, Biden, speaking to black people, said: “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for Trump or me, then you ain’t black.”
When I heard the comments made by Joe Biden, vice president to the first black U.S. president, I said to myself, here we go again. Some white people who are allowed entrance into our (black) space get too familiar and begin to think (mistakenly so) they now are somehow, “Black.” They presume to now know us so well that they have the right to speak to us the way we communicate with each other. Also, I know of no other people whose ethnicity is questioned based on the way they vote. Why is blackness questioned?
I see little difference between the statement made by Donald Trump, when he said to black people, “what do you have to lose” if we vote for him. And Biden’s statement that “you ain’t black” if black people don’t vote for him. The most significant difference I see when I read both statements is that Trump’s comments questions our loyalty, not our blackness. Biden’s comments question our blackness and our loyalty. Which is worse?
These statements speak to the profound disrespect these white people have for black people and trivialize the black struggle. They believe blackness is a fad, a fashion statement, something “cool” to mimic, or a Halloween costume which anyone can wear and remove whenever they choose. The modern minstrel, Rachel Dolezal, a white woman from Montana, masquerades as a black woman and insists that she is black while acknowledging she was biologically born white. This is the epitome of insane!
Politically speaking, Biden’s comments also suggest that black people are a captured electorate. Black people have overwhelmingly voted for the Democratic party since 1936. Blacks had voted primarily for the republican party after the end of the civil war in 1865. For 84 years, the democratic party (DFL) have come to expect the black vote to win elections. So, I can understand to a certain degree the point Biden was trying to make about the choice we have in the 2020 race for president. Do black people elect him or re-elect Donald Trump for president?
We either choose to vote to re-elect Donald Trump, a racist, anti-black, white supremacist, fascist, oligarch who, even as president, has doubled down on his stance that members of the wrongly accused central park five, (five teenage boys, 4 black and 1 Latino) are still guilty of the 1989 rape of a white woman in New York and should be put to death. Or, we elect Joe Biden, who served two terms as vice president under the country’s first black president, Barack Obama. And who served as a U.S. senator of Delaware for nearly four decades. Biden also had a crucial role in the passage of the 1994 crime bill that mandated harsher sentences for crimes that disproportionally affect black people.
Based on the information mentioned above, why would black people re-elect someone who is anti-black and an overt racist over a person who will fight for issues affecting black people?
However, when Donald Trump said black people have “nothing to lose” by voting for him, he touched a sensitive nerve in the black electorate’s soul. Trump was pointing out the fact that glaring racial disparities continue to exist, and suggests that no significant change has happened for black people under DFL-led local, state, and national leadership.
To be clear, the two major political parties are disregardful of issues facing black people, yet they expect our vote.
Part of the problem is that Black people has not forced white DFL candidates to fight for our vote even when the opposition is anti-black and an overt racist. We tend to assume that they have our back. The Democratic candidate believes that black people have no other choices but to vote DFL when it comes to fighting for our interests. They think it’s unnecessary to spend money to campaign for our support. (it’s quite possible Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump because she failed to campaign in the critical states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where she was favored to win.) After being elected, some of these Democratically elected officials don’t feel it necessary to push hard for policies that affect black people.
Now Back to Bidens’ comment. An ultimate act of white supremacy is when a white person, no matter their relationship to black people assume they have the right to determine who is or isn’t black. Blackness is not something to be given; neither can it be taken. Blackness is an ethnicity, not a political ideology. Blackness cannot be defined or determined by our political views or party affiliation. Black people, like all ethnic groups, are not a monolith. Often, we differ significantly on issues that have the most severe impact. This doesn’t mean we aren’t black.
I agree that it is against my interest to vote for an anti-black racist. I also contend that to vote for a white person who dares to challenge my ethnicity (blackness) if I didn’t vote for him/her, is also against my interest.
Both Biden’s and Trump’s comments are necessarily the same to black people – they both say I am better for black people than the other guy or better yet. I’m not as bad for Black people as the other guy, so vote for me.
There remain deep racial inequities rooted in the soil of America. Implicit negative biases are pervasive and disproportionately affect the lives of black people. In states where liberals and progressives are the majority, black people still face high rates of discrimination and racism. Let’s be crystal clear; the difference between the major political parties, GOP and DFL are like the different sides of the same coin.
Black people have always had to choose between the devil and Satan, who will cause the least harm to black people.
Don’t conflate black political affiliation with black ethnicity.