Joe Biden was making the media rounds on Friday morning and participated in a virtual interview with Charlamagne Tha God for The Breakfast Club radio show. The former vice president waxed poetic on everything from who he will choose for a running mate — will it be a Black woman? — to his role in the infamous 1994 crime bill to Black voters, and then some.
All of those topics are to be expected from the presumptive Democratic nominee. But what may not have been expected was Biden’s parting words in the 18-minute interview challenging people’s Blackness if they were still unsure of who to vote for on Election Day.
Biden answered Charlamagne’s questions from the start with a liveliness we haven’t seen since he was on the debate stage. When Charlamagne told Biden he had been critical of him, Biden quickly shot back with no hesitation: “You don’t know me!” Charlamagne also accused Biden of being “MIA during this global pandemic” in comparison to other leaders like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s been providing daily media briefings for months now.
“I’m following the rules, man!” Biden said before saying he was happy to let Donald Trump keep making himself look foolish. “It’s not hurting me” by not speaking publicly every day, Biden said citing the national polls he’s been leading. “The more he talks, the better off I am,” Biden said of Trump. “This guy has been incredibly terrible!” he added.
Charlamagne pointed out that polls can be “illusions,” but Biden said 2020 is “totally different” from 2016 because of the coronavirus killing off Americans. He blamed that directly on Trump’s response.
The interview also covered what Biden referred to as “institutional racism” that America has witnessed “more clearly now” because of the coronavirus, pointing to the disproportionate effect COVID-19 has had on Black people, who he recognized as making up the bulk of the nation’s essential workers.
“The blinders, in my view, have been taken off,” Biden said.
When the topic moved to Black voters and whether Democrats have been taking hem for granted, Biden openly admitted that Black people are owed from his political party. But he questioned the premise that he has not always been down for Black folks’ causes.
Biden cited Delaware as having the 8th largest Black population in the U.S. for proof of his so-called Black card.
“I get overwhelming support from the Black leadership, young and old,” he said. “Give me a break here, this is where I come from!”
He referenced his cited his past as a public defender and said he was the only white person “who worked in the projects.”
When the conversation moved on to the controversial 1994 crime bill, Biden downplayed its effect on increased imprisonment. “The crime bill didn’t increase mass incarceration — other things increased mass incarceration,” he said before pointing to “a vast majority of the Black Caucus at the time supporting the crime bill.”
Biden insisted the crime bill “did bring down violent crime in Black communities” and that the incarceration data wasn’t completely accurate because it was being measured on a state level when the crime bill was a federal law.
When Charlamagne pushed him to admit the crime bill disproportionately hurt Blacks, Biden wouldn’t budge.
“It wasn’t the crime bill, it was the drug legislation, which I opposed,” he said.
Biden also hinted that he was softening his stance on marijuana, talking about decriminalizing it and contradicting his previous claims that he thought it was a gateway drug. He cited ongoing marijuana studies on whether it affects the long-term development of the brain in deciding whether he was in favor of legalizing or decriminalizing.
“We should wait until the studies are done,” Biden said. “I think science matters.”
But Charlamagne said pointedly, “I think we have decades and decades of studies from actual weed smokers, though.”
To which Biden responded, “Yeah we do – I know a lot of weed smokers.”
The two shared a brief laugh before Charlamagne made Biden address the elephant in the room — who he would choose to be his running mate.
“I’m not acknowledging anyone who is being considered,” Biden said, “but I guarantee there are multiple Black women being considered.”
With that, his handler interrupted the meeting and tried to stop it, but not before Biden got one last word in:
“If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump then you ain’t black!”
Watch a video of the full interview below.