By: Lisa Hayes – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
I’ve been asking myself the question for a very long time. The only reason I keep asking myself the question is because I don’t like the obvious answer.
The question is: Is Joe Biden a racist?
The answer is: Yes.
Joe Biden is not racist in the hateful tiki torch-wielding kind of way. He’s racist in an elitist entitled sort of way that makes his racism near invisible to the naked eye of other well-intending white people, most of whom have an Uncle Joe in their family.
Joe Biden will strongly denounce racism but he won’t fully distance himself from his openly racist counter-parts in the political arena. He believes he can ride the middle of the road for the greater good. He worked openly and proudly with segregationists. He can’t understand why that has harmed his reputation with people of color.
Joe Biden has a black friend. We all loved the memes of good old Joe with his BFF Obama. It’s easy to forget that in 2007 Biden referred to Barack Obama as “clean” – a demeaning commentary on the hygiene of a black man who would go on to beat him in the Democratic primary and become President of the United States.
When directly asked a question about addressing the legacy of slavery, Biden suggested we send social workers into the homes of low income, (read homes of color) families to help parents learn to parent better, (read more like white folk). How do we know he was thinking about families of color when we said low-income homes? Because, and I repeat, the question he was dodging was about the legacy of slavery.
Biden is a gaffe machine. He’s had the reputation for a long time. Consistently his gaffs on race reveal an underbelly of a different kind of white supremacy. It’s not that Uncle Joe thinks white people are genetically superior. He doesn’t want black people to “go home”. He just wants to help black people to be more like white people because white people do things the right way. For Joe Biden, whiteness is a standard everyone else should work towards. Joe Biden is a white is right racist.
Joe Biden can’t help but reveal himself as a white man who doesn’t understand the nuances of the racial divide in our nation. He can’t see that he and his kind are the reasons that divide continues to exist in our country. But we see it because we all have an Uncle Joe in our family.
The challenge for a lot of white people who are struggling with the legacy and potential Presidency of Joe Biden is we see him for what he is but we want to believe he’s a good person. His heart is in the right place. He’s done some good things for civil rights. His record speaks for itself, and it does, but some of what his record says is a mixed message.
Can a racist, if that racism is unintended and “innocent”, be a good person?
Do unconscious attitudes of white supremacy have to mean you’re a racist?
Is it ok if Uncle Joe just doesn’t know better?
And while the answers to those questions should be clear cut, in white America, they are not.
The problem with a Joe Biden candidacy is his lead in the Democratic polls tells us more about who we are than it does about who Joe is. Joe Biden’s popularity tells us the same kinds of things that the Trump Presidency tells us about who we are. White America has a racism problem. The right openly embraces racism. The left tolerates it.
The fact that white America has a racism problem is only news to liberal white America. Conservative white America isn’t even trying to keep it a secret anymore. People of color in the U.S. live with that reality in real-time every single day. We have a white nationalist sitting in the Oval Office today and Uncle Joe leading most Democratic polls for the party nomination – and yes, Joe Biden is a racist. Biden is a “white is right” racist.
White is right racists don’t have to hold themselves accountable for their biases because they are always available to help people of color, (be more white).
White is right racists don’t see color – they see everyone as the “same”. They get away with erasing the identity and culture of everyone who’s not as white as they are – because white is the standard by which that sameness is measured.
White is right racists can have lunch with a segregationist or their openly racist neighbor without apology because their daughter is dating a black guy and they invited him to dinner on Sunday.
White is right racists don’t have to acknowledge their privilege is built on a system of oppression because obviously, they think slavery was wrong. They don’t like to talk about how they profit from the systems slavery built.
White is right racism systematically erases the agency, legacy, and sovereignty of cultures that are not white enough, in the name of “helping”, of course.
White is right racism might be more dangerous than white nationalism. It hides in plain sight and “liberal” white America can’t or won’t address it because most of us can relate to it or are guilty of it. However, make no mistake it is still white supremacy.
White is right racism isn’t outwardly mean. It doesn’t come across exactly as bullying. It’s not violent. White is right racists can be very polite and engaging. They dance between high political correctness and low-grade inappropriateness. They assume they will get a pass because they perceive themselves as having one foot inside cultures of color because they are so cool – and they often do even though they aren’t.
Racism might be defined as a general dislike or distaste for people of other races or other cultures. White supremacy is the belief that white people and white culture are superior therefore they should dominate others because of that superiority.
So through that lens, we not only have to acknowledge that Biden is a racist. It’s time we admit he is a privileged old white man with white supremacist biases.
And it’s hard because he’s Uncle Joe.
We know him.
We grew up with him.
We all have an Uncle Joe. It might be your grandfather.
It might be your mother.
It might be you – and there is nothing a white person hates more than the suggestion that they might be racist.
By historical standards, the U.S. is still in its adolescence. We are still in the process of defining our identity. What’s heart-wrenchingly true about that identity as of now is we are a country who’s middle, geographically, socially, and politically will tolerate flagrant racist attitudes. The blaring news stories about a political divide are over-blown. Joe Biden is a symptom of a political middle that doesn’t want to admit it can’t extract itself from a legacy of white supremacy.
Joe Biden can’t be trusted to address systemic racism and to heal the deep harm the current administration leaves behind. He can’t be trusted to do it because he can’t see that it exists. Joe Biden can’t cure a disease in which his very presence in our political system makes him a symptom of the illness.
So, yes, Joe might be familiar. His tell it like it is gaffes might be relatable. However, his rise to the top of the polls is a continuation of the kind of white supremacy white people don’t want to talk about because it’s the soup we all grew up in. We can’t vote for him and talk about wanting to do better – the problem is liberals who support Joe Biden are the very kind of white people that think they don’t need to do better because you know, they have black friends.
Lisa M. Hayes, Senior Editor of Confluence Daily.
Confluence Daily is the one place where everything comes together. The one-stop for daily news for women.