Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders may be running against one another in the race for presidency, but it appears the two may have more in common than they think. They have both placed blame on Black folks for things beyond their control. Biden recently did an interview with The New York Times and sidestepped away from the comments he made during the third presidential Democratic debate in 2019 where he basically blamed Black parents for the racial achievement gap. Meanwhile, Sanders pointed to former president Barack Obama’s inability to get Mississippi residents to vote for him, as if obtaining white votes in an overtly racist state is an easy feat for a Black man.
Sanders, who received criticism during his time in Mississippi in 2018 after referring to Obama as a “charismatic individual” and a “brilliant guy” while citing the Democratic defeats during his presidency, suggested that it was the former president’s fault that he could not get racist white folks in Mississippi to vote for him. “Barack Obama won 10% of the white vote in Mississippi. That speaks to very bad work done by Democrats there. 90% of white people in Mississippi are not racist,” in a video clip that has been making its’ rounds on social media. And while these percentages could have some basis in fact, it is unfair and frankly tone deaf to assert that a Black man running for president can shift the mentality of racist white folks.
Biden, who appears to be on the same misplaced blame campaign trail, has revisited the comments he made about reparations for Black folks. He was asked about the responsibility he feels Americans have to repair the legacy of slavery during the September 2019 debate, to which he said the solution was tackling the “word gap” between Black and white children. He went on to suggest that parents should “make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the — make sure that kids hear words, a kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time we get there.”
Biden’s debate response was challenged during his conversation with The New York Times. He shifted his answer, placing responsibility on “those who are still engaged in oppression” calling for them to “stop what they’re doing and pay for what they’ve done if it’s criminal. And if it’s not criminal, pay for it economically and change the law.”
He recounted the backlash Obama received after telling Black men that their responsibility exists beyond conception during a 2008 speech in Chicago, and said his point is to help disadvantaged parents. “My point was to make it clear that there are a number of things we can do now to help parents who have been disadvantaged as a consequence of lack of opportunity to be able to provide more guidance and better guidance for themselves and their families,” Biden said.
Biden went on to propose that Black parents aren’t active in their children’s education because of the embarrassment that stems from their own lack of education. The former vice president attributed his knowledge on the subject to his wife who is a teacher.
“The people who don’t show up on the nights when there’s a parent-teacher meeting are not people who in fact don’t care, but folks from poor backgrounds. They don’t show up because they’re embarrassed. They’re embarrassed the teacher’s going to say — and it’s hard to say, ‘Well, I can’t read,’ or ‘I don’t …,’” he said.