A Blunt Brooklyn Response to Another “Imperfect” Joe Biden Interview
The “human gaffe machine” adds to his repertoire, but is the current outcry much ado about nothing?
I encourage members of any discriminated class to join this conversation.
My perspective is based on my upbringing. I was raised in the Sheepshead Bay Projects in Brooklyn, New York, in the 60s and 70s. Black, Jewish, and Italian-Catholic made up my neighborhood. I loathed then as now when my fellow Jews — themselves having experienced anti-Semitism — called our black neighbors “Schvartze,” the equivalent of a racial slur.
From those early days sprung a life-long interest in equality, and the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.
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I am convinced the most recent Biden interview controversy is largely well-meaning mock indignation.
For anyone reading this who, like me, is not black, your anger as expressed lacks credibility unless you consider Biden’s words as an affront to professional discourse.
Any other perspective is simply not credible, as the issue at hand is considerably more complex.
The interview which started the latest round of national consternation, and Biden’s subsequent apology, can be seen in full in this New York Times article:
Biden Apologizes for Saying Black Voters 'Ain't Black' if They're Considering Trump
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, apologized Friday afternoon…
Biden was widely accused of having pandered to his host and presenting himself as an arbiter of blackness.
“Charlamagne Tha God” — I’ll get back to that — hosted this interview for “The Breakfast Club,” described by the New York Times as “a nationally syndicated morning show popular with black millennials.” I applauded the interviewer as the discourse was real, and he didn’t seem offended, though his own moniker panders precisely to his audience.
And there is nothing wrong with that. By comparison, a particular Caucasian candidate, Biden, had become too relaxed in the give and take and pandered himself … in the final minute of the interview. The preceding 15 minutes or so was illuminating, but had become overshadowed and meaningless with a simple careless turn of phrase.
And much of the country is in an uproar as a result.
Such is part of my “non-black perspective.” In truth, the name “Charlamagne Tha God” is no different than any hip-hop-related moniker. The interviewer’s real name is Lenard Larry McKelvey. He is highly-experienced, and eminently credible with well-earned success:
Charlamagne tha God
Lenard Larry McKelvey (born June 29, 1978), known professionally as Charlamagne tha God, is an American radio…
The seriousness of politics and the laudable work aside, though his show is not rap or hip hop-related, an element of show business remains as perhaps it should.
His program and his audience reach are highly influential.
I understand some African American leaders were offended by Biden’s comment. I respect that. But for those of us who are not black, how are Biden’s words penetrating you, exactly?
Who are you angry for, exactly?
So many acquaintances of mine who are not people of color have been reacting of late like the sky has fallen.
Biden was being Biden at his most hokey and awkward. What matters to me is his near-career-long record of positive actions for people of color. He’s had missteps — in regards to busing, as Kamala Harris pointed out in a debate last year, and aspects of Obama’s presidency — but his track record regarding racial matters, on a whole, is more consistent and impressive than most:
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I was not offended watching “The Breakfast Club” interview. Really, how could I be? There was no attack here. I thought Biden’s was a flip, inartful comment but certainly no crime. It didn’t strike me as a racist remark at all BUT I NEED TO BE TOLD WHETHER IT WAS OR NOT BY THE COMMUNITY HE ADDRESSED.
His was not the equivalent of a racial slur of the likes common in my old neighborhood. The context of this interview was open and honest about race.
He was, as he said, a bit of a “wiseguy.”
Agreed. Moving on.
Many non-black people I know are afraid to use the word “black.” It’s as if “African American” is safer somehow.
All my life, the majority of my friends have been black. And yes, we toss the Jew jokes, the black jokes and more in person, or over private text chains. We’re all self-deprecating, and we have fun. To my friends I am their brother, as they are my brothers and sisters and I’d take a bullet for each and every one.
I have no hangup about noticing differences, and neither do my friends. A couple of months back, a black friend said to me, “Are you and your lovely wife available? I’m shooting a television pilot and we have no whities. We need a couple of tokens.”
“You do know,” I said, “there’s this age-old question about us Jews being white?”
You may find the remarks offensive. We laughed, and my wife and I appeared in my buddy’s pilot.
It’s similar to this: I’m not gay, so if someone calls me “fag” it will likely not have the same impact as it would if I was. Likewise, when I was called “Jew bastard” it hurt me immensely. I wouldn’t expect it to hurt you as much if you’re not Jewish. If you get angry in my defense, great, but it’s unnecessary unless you fight for me too.
That’s the rub. I will absolutely fight on behalf of my brothers and sisters of any skin color, culture, or religion.
I fight an ongoing battle against racism. My social media illustrates as much. We are all human, and yet our differences should never be ignored. When the film version of “Black Panther” was released, it was a near-religious experience for some of my friends in part because never before has a black hero been so portrayed in a big-budget Hollywood extravaganza. It was as if a glass ceiling had broken. Me, I thought it was an amazing movie and my favorite that year … but no near-religious experience because on that level it could not be.
Joe Biden did nothing wrong in the interview, in my sole opinion, because it’s not up to me to say that he did. The interview ended and the host didn’t flinch.
It appeared most everyone else became angry.
“Good people on both sides” this wasn’t.
I no longer live in Brooklyn, but the honesty remains. Joseph Biden is not my perfect choice as President, but I am voting for him on balance.
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