Joe Biden wouldn’t be Joe Biden without insensitive remarks. During a virtual event hosted by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists on Thursday, the former Vice President made a shocking claim about intellectual diversity in the black community.
“Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions,” Joe Biden told viewers, “the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly diverse attitudes about different things.”
Biden continued, “you go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration than you do in Arizona. So it’s a very diverse community.”
According to Politico, “his remarks on diversity were a response to a question from NPR reporter Lulu Garcia-Navarro, who asked a question about whether Biden… would engage with Cuba and on the differing immigration concerns between Cuban and Venezuelan Americans.”
Despite the immediate backlash from implying black Americans don’t have intellectual diversity, the Biden campaign fired back saying the video was out of context.
“If you look at the full video and transcript, it’s clear that Vice President Biden was referring to diversity of attitudes among Latinos from different Latin American countries,” Symone Sanders, a senior Biden campaign adviser, said in a statement. “The video that is circulating is conveniently cut to make this about racial diversity but that’s not the case.”
However, directly contradicting Sanders’ explanation, Biden seems to have doubled down on the assumption that the black community lacked racial diversity in comparison to the Latino community. “We can build a new administration that reflects the full diversity of our nation. The full diversity of the Latino communities,” Biden said during the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference. “Now when I mean full diversity, unlike African American community, many other communities, you’re from everywhere. From Europe. From the tip of South America, all the way to our border and Mexico and in the Caribbean. And different backgrounds, different ethnicities, but all Latinos.”
Biden, who made the second speech after Sanders’ statement, reaffirms what his spokeswoman set out to clarify by directly referencing racial diversity.
Though comments about differences in national origin, while ignorant because it ignores the diverse national and tribal history within Africa, is not what should agitate voters. Biden’s assertion that black Americans don’t have diversity of thought, which was referenced in Biden’s first statement and that made by his campaign spokesperson, is ruffling feathers.
Actor James Woods sums up the frustration, “Joe Biden is the worst kind of racist – patronizing, ignorant, smug, and utterly lacking in self-awareness. And it’s not related to his dementia.”
Biden was forced to apologize on Twitter shortly after, writing, “I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify. In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith—not by identity, not on issues, not at all.”
This was far from Joe Biden’s first time belittling the black community. In 2007 during the Democratic Presidential Primary, Biden drew scrutiny for a condescending comment about then Senator Barack Obama. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man,” Biden said.
Just a couple months ago, Biden said, referring to black Americans who’d rather vote for Trump over himself, “you ain’t black,” during a podcast interview, implying voting democratic is an inseparable feature of blackness.
Within the last week, when asked by CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett whether he’d subject himself to a cognitive ability test after President Trump brought up Biden’s mental decline, Biden responded by telling Barnett, who’s black, “that’s like saying to you, before you got on this program if you had taken a test were you taking cocaine or not. What do you think, huh? Are you a junkie?”
Biden’s campaign defended those comments by calling Barnett’s question “preposterous” and “deserving of a response that showed the absurdity of it all,” according to Politico.