What’s worse here — the cultural appropriation, or the Democratic-plantation attitude? We report, you decide. Joe Biden told the Breakfast Club host Charlamagne tha God this morning that “multiple black women” are under consideration for his running mate, but Charlamagne still didn’t sound convinced. Biden then offered his final argument for support, which was, er, to question the authenticity of Mr. Tha God (NYT styleguide version):
“I’m not acknowledging anybody who is being considered, but I guarantee you: There are multiple black women being considered. Multiple,” Biden said of his search process for a vice presidential nominee.
It was then that an aide to the Biden campaign could be heard interjecting into the conversation, attempting to cut short the interview. “Thank you so much. That’s really our time. I apologize,” the aide said.
“You can’t do that to black media!” Charlamagne retorted.
“I do that to white media and black media because my wife has to go on at 6 o’clock,” Biden shot back, apparently referring to a subsequent media appearance by Dr. Jill Biden, before adding: “Uh oh. I’m in trouble.”
“Listen, you’ve got to come see us when you come to New York, VP Biden,” Charlamagne said. “It’s a long way until November. We’ve got more questions.”
“You’ve got more questions?” Biden replied. “Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Oh my. If Biden meant this as a joke, Charlamagne wasn’t laughing at it. The context of this clearly indicated that he wanted a serious commitment from Biden on picking a woman of color to indicate that “my community” had some investment in the Democratic ticket. Biden’s response typifies his party’s attitude toward its most loyal demographic, which is to attack the authenticity of anyone who dares not to support them.
Or, or to put it into Democratic identity-politics terms: There’s nothing like an old white dude who spent the last fifty years in Washington telling young African-Americans that he’s a better arbiter of blackness than they are. This is even worse than Hillary Clinton’s phony adoption of southern patois in 2007 (“noways taaaahrd“) and again eight years later. At least Hillary knew better than to tell black voters that they weren’t black enough.
One thing’s for sure, though. Charlamagne’s right that “it’s a long way until November.” Democrats have to cringe at the thought of that — and wonder how many more of these episodes they’ll have to endure with Biden.
Update: New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin puts it succinctly:
This morning should end once and for all the question of which party is more eager to get Biden out of his basement.
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) May 22, 2020
The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer is less amused:
I really hate this kind of racist essentialism, even if meant as a joke. The capital police didn’t check Tim Scott’s voter registration before stopping him for no reason. https://t.co/nT95aVH6IZ
— Adam Serwer🍝 (@AdamSerwer) May 22, 2020