It’s not very often that someone as much in the limelight as presidential candidate Joe Biden says something as blatantly racist as he did last week and can get away with it. But that is precisely what he has done, at least for the most part.
On May 26, the former vice president appeared on radio host Charlamagne Tha God’s show “The Breakfast Club,” where it didn’t take long for Biden to make yet another horrible error is speech. Charlamagne, who has no shame about being a progressive liberal, admitted that he, like many Americans, are still on the fence about choosing Biden as their president.
Biden’s reply was if that, as a black American, “you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me for Trump, you ain’t black.”
Obviously, the comment did not go over all that well, causing Biden to receive plenty of criticism over the matter. Biden and his campaign staff were quick to say that he was joking, hoping that it would all blow over. But then later, during an appearance of CNN with Don Lemon, Biden actually apologized, while at the same time blamed Charlamagne for the comment.
He said, “I apologized immediately for responding to Charlamagne, who was baiting me, and if you looked at that film, you’ll see I was smiling at him.” Biden goes on to explain that he was speaking directly to Charlamagne and that the comment was never meant for “all African Americans.”
However, this half-hearted apology and one that further tries to the point the finger elsewhere has does little to convince those like Charlamagne that Biden should be their leader.
And Charlamagne actually said this recently, claiming that he needs to see “some action” from Biden to further form an opinion.
He was talking to CNN on Tuesday, giving his impression of Biden’s speeches in Philadelphia earlier that day. Charlamagne remarked that while he like what he had heard from Biden, “I need some action, like, I need him to really lean into blackness now.”
He went on to describe the former VP as being the Lyndon B. Johnson to Obama’s JFK.
“To me, it’s like this: If Barack Obama was JFK, then Joe Biden needs to be Lyndon B. Johnson. You know he has the opportunity to be as progressive as Lyndon B. Johnson. Lyndon B. Johnson may have been labeled a racist, but his record doesn’t reflect that. LBJ’s record showed that he had, like, the most effective progressive record on race and class of any Democratic president of the past 80 years.”
And Charlamagne definitely has a point there. LBJ, on a personal level, is regarded as one of America’s most racist presidents, in part for saying things like, “I’ll have those n**gers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” However, when it came to policy and legislation, some of the most liberating civil rights movements came about during his time in office.
And when it comes to Biden, Charlamagne thinks he can do similarly.
“I think, you know, Biden’s record in the Senate actually reflects very racist legislation, but he has the chance to correct that by doing right by black people.”
Now obviously, “doing right by black people” doesn’t include insulting them on national television and insinuating that if you don’t vote for him, you are somehow not black.
Nor does it mean that you can say things like “poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids.” However, as Charlamagne seems to suggest, words don’t really mean much. Instead, it’s all about action. And if he can take action and “lean into blackness,” he might have a shot at this.
Then again, we also have Charlamagne saying on record that he doesn’t “understand the hype behind Joe Biden” and that “to quote Tupac, when I see Joe Biden, I’m like, ‘Yo, you really ain’t sh- without your homeboy.”
What he is saying is that the party isn’t even voting for Biden. They are voting for Obama’s legacy.
Just like LBJ, Biden would have never made it to the White House without “his boss.” Yes, he might be liked because of his allegiance to Obama, which is why LBJ was elected to a second term. But unlike LBJ, Biden’s predecessor wasn’t tragically killed.
Obama is still out there living his legacy. And as much as Biden and his supporters might want to say it, he is on his own. And as Charlamagne suggests, that isn’t enough.