“A Black man invented the lightbulb, not a white guy named Edison,” former Vice President and Democratic nominee Joe Biden said Sept. 3 during a long and passionate speech about racial issues in the U.S.
This statement isn’t true, and Biden most likely knows it. Still, he made this specific comment in front of a predominantly Black audience and community in Kenosha, Washington. He wants to manipulate the Black community with rhetoric and lies like this to gain more support.
Imagine hearing this comment as a Black American and believing it. It’d incite hatred and disappointment toward the U.S. and its education systems. They might consider how it’d be possible for the U.S. to hate people for their skin color so much that they could steal this monumental achievement from the Black community and lie about it for generations.
Imagine what thinking this and genuinely believing it would feel like. This is the reality Biden’s racial pandering and manipulation can create in its listeners. In this one statement, he paints a picture of America as horribly corrupt and racist, but only to say he understands and can make it better. If this claim were true, he’d be entirely justified in pointing it out. But it’s not true, this is precisely the kind of rhetoric Biden’s used his entire campaign and long before it began.
In the same speech, he made a similar comment that was arguably even worse. Biden talked about some of the corporations he thought weren’t paying enough tax money but said he wouldn’t name them because, “They’ll shoot me.” Many believe this was a joke alluding to how the meeting in Kenosha was partly held in honor of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man shot by police on Aug. 23. It’s not difficult to imagine how Biden could’ve seen this comment as a way to relate to the community and subtly claim he was just like them.
Surely, many will remember what Biden said back in May, as it’s been talked about as one of the worst things he’s said during his campaign—or maybe ever:
“If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”
It’s incredibly concerning that any politician could have words as racist and manipulative as these slither from their mouth and still secure the Democratic Party nomination. Black voters don’t owe Biden their support, and it’s disappointing to see him try and indoctrinate them into this way of thinking.
This isn’t to say that politicians shouldn’t aim to care and look after all racial and cultural groups. In fact, they absolutely need to, especially right now. The problem is how they get the support of the people they claim to care about and want to help. The correct and only ethical way to gain a demographic’s support is to speak truthfully about what can be done for them if the candidate’s elected. We can no longer tolerate this kind of rhetoric, lying and manipulation toward our most vulnerable communities, or our country’s racial divide will only grow wider.
Evan Holden is a sophomore political science major. Contact Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org.