Joe Biden’s sense of entitlement toward black culture is a problem.
And that problem was magnified on Friday morning, when the former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee overstepped his boundaries in an interview on The Breakfast Club.
Biden was pressed by host Charlamagne Tha God on many black interest topics, such as the 1994 crime bill he helped write — which disproportionately put more black and brown people in jail — along with his search for a black female running mate, and how his presidency would improve the lives of black people in America today.
After a seemingly unproblematic interview, Biden proceeded to screw it up by attempting to discredit the blackness of black people who are reluctant to support him.
“If you have a problem figuring out whether you are for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” said Biden.
Heisman Trophy winner and standout NFL running back Herschel Walker quickly called Biden out on Twitter.
“You don’t determine who we vote for,” Walker wrote.
Walker grew up in Georgia in the 1960s and knows well the struggles of living as a black man in America.
As expected, Biden apologized for his reckless words that afternoon. However, the damage was already done.
“I shouldn’t have been so cavalier.” he told the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce. ”No one, no one, should have to vote for any party based on their race, their religion, their background.”
Listen, there is no concrete blueprint for the way black people think, act, or vote. An antiquated notion exudes from powerful politicians and corporate higher-ups — an implication that all black people are robots and programmed to interpret life the same way — and it is beyond insulting.
As much as I (a black man) disagree with a black person voting to re-elect Donald Trump this fall, I cannot strip them of their “blackness.”
“Blackness” doesn’t come from dunking a basketball, scoring a touchdown, listening to a certain hip hop album, nor casting a vote for a particular individual or party affiliation. Michael Jordan and LeBron James are now both pillars in the black community, even though they embraced social activism at different times in their lives.
A black person’s self-identification with their own culture is an individual journey for every single black person in this country.
It takes on many different forms and shouldn’t be manipulated, especially by a white man who could never truly understand the same struggle of being black America. They don’t live with the same level of double consciousness that it takes for black people to survive. They wouldn’t truly know the plight of Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin or Tamir Rice.
This is not to say that white people don’t have a role to play in the fight against injustice. Biden, despite his obvious blunders — like the 1994 crime bill — is the main hope for black America to get Trump out of office and improve lives for black Americans.
But let’s not get it twisted.
You cannot have a voice in an ethnic culture that isn’t yours.
You are welcome to speak against the transgressions that are disproportionately impacting these communities, but you do not have the right to dictate another ethnic group’s lawful behavior or define what you think that ethnic group may be.
Sometimes advocates don’t need to give advice.
While intentions may be sincere, the execution of the matter will always cause strife when it is articulated from an outside voice.
Biden’s entitlement may be the topic of conversation now, but this is an issue that extends far beyond one white person. This is an attitude that many white people have adopted, especially once they feel like they’ve spoken out on a few black causes.
White people are not granted an automatic entrance into black culture, they have to be welcomed in the door.
The problem with Biden and many other white people who have advocated for black issues, is that oftentimes they try to barge into the house without knocking.