'You ain't Black' remark returns to haunt Biden in Philly meet as man of color asks why would they vote him
The presidential nominee courted controversy in May by allegedly suggesting that he and his Democratic Party take the Black voters for granted
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his supporters might feel that the Black vote is all set to pour into his kitty in the presidential election this year, especially when he is running against President Donald Trump who is often seen as a representative of White supremacy. But even then, Biden had his share of controversy related to skin color, especially after his talks with radio host Charlamagne Tha God in which he addressed the voters to say: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”
The episode from May is still chasing Biden and it was witnessed once again during the former VP’s town hall in Philadelphia on Thursday (October 15) night. Biden was supposed to meet Trump for the second presidential debate in Miami the same day but the two candidates instead settled for their respective town halls after the debate got canceled in the wake of Trump contracting the coronavirus earlier this month.
As voters present at the town hall got an opportunity to speak directly to Biden, one young Black individual came up with a sharp question. “Many people believe that the true swing demographic in this election will be Black voters under the age of 30,” the man, who moderator George Stephanopoulos identified as Cedric Humphrey — a student from Harrisburg — asked the Democratic candidate, before adding: “Besides ‘You ain’t Black’, what do you have to say to young Black voters who see voting for you as further participation in a system that continually fails to protect them?” The question at once revived Biden’s controversial moment with Tha God on “The Breakfast Club”.
Biden is asked "Besides 'you ain’t Black,' what do you have to say to young Black voters?" pic.twitter.com/BJvEXClg7F— The Recount (@therecount) October 16, 2020
The Democratic candidate, despite gaining a decent lead over Trump in various battleground states, has also seen his Black voter base fading in recent times. According to Forbes Under 30 Voter Survey, while 57 percent of young voters prefer Biden over Trump, the margin has come down from 60 percent in favor of the former vice-president. In June, days after George Floyd’s death, Biden led Trump 77-14 percent among the young Black voters. But now, the lead has come down to 70-20 percent in favor of Biden. Among Hispanics, too, the Democrat’s lead slipped from 66 to 62 percent while for Trump, it went up from 27 to 32 percent.
In another report that came out recently, Black voters aged between 18 and 24 have started questioning the traditional wisdom of their communities backing the Democratic Party, thanks to personalities like Kanye West, Candace Owens and CJ Pearson. Pearson even said, as per a report in POLITICO: “Conservatism is blackness.”
Biden invokes iconic John Lewis in response
Biden, who had moments of confrontation with voters a number of times this election season, responded to the young man in the town hall by invoking the memory of late civil rights activist and lawmaker John Lewis who died in July. Encouraging Humphrey and others like him to cast their ballots, Biden said: “Well, I say, first of all, as my buddy John Lewis said, it’s a sacred opportunity, the right to vote. It can make a difference. If young Black women and men vote, you can determine the outcome. Not a joke, you can.” Democrats and their supporters, including the high-profile Obama couple, have been asking people to go out and vote, perhaps more because of the low turnout that hit their cause in the 2016 presidential election.
Biden then threw focus on what a probable administration led by him would do for Black America. The former VP spoke on improving the criminal justice system for people of color, increasing funding of schools and teachers’ salaries, allocating $17 billion to the historically Black colleges and universities, etc. The former VP also said that he was in favor of giving financial support for Black-owned-start-up businesses and others — aiming to build on what he and former president Barack Obama did during their stay in the office between 2009 and 2017.
“All the studies now show, and I’ve been arguing this for a long time, Black entrepreneurs are just as successful as white entrepreneurs or anyone else if given a shot. We had a program where we took $1.5 billion and we invested it in all the SBAs around the country, state Small Business Associations, and that generated $30 billion,” Biden said. He also said addressing Humphrey: “It’s about accumulating wealth. The vast majority of people of color are behind an eight ball. We’ve got to change that.”
The veteran though did not apologize for his “you ain’t Black” remarks which he had done days after his radio show controversy five months ago, he clarified saying that it was not true that he was taking the African-American vote for granted. “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 at the time, adding: “I’ve never ever done that, and I’ve earned it every time I’ve run.”