Vernon Jones: Democrats Owe Us Better than Biden

I’ve been a Democrat all my life, but I can’t ignore the racism I see in Joe Biden, just as I can’t ignore my Party’s record of failure when it comes to serving the Black community. For decades, Democrats have put themselves forward as the party of Black people, only to ignore us once they’re in office. As I’ve said before, the Democrats put us at the back of the bus until Election Day, and then after Election Day, they throw us off the bus altogether. The same cycle repeats every election, and it just happened again.

Earlier this [month], a young Black reporter named Errol Barnett asked Biden whether he had taken a cognitive test — an eminently reasonable question, given that Biden has been going around telling people that he aced just such a test.

“No, I haven’t taken a test,” Biden snapped. “That’s like saying to you before you got on this program whether you had taken a test were you on cocaine or not. What do you think, huh? Are you a junkie?”

Cocaine, it should be noted, had long been negatively associated with the Black community in popular culture prior to being embraced by affluent white professionals in the 1980s, at which point crack became more widely associated with lower-income users, especially within the Black community. Biden should be well aware of this phenomenon — after all, he personally exploited it when he was cultivating a persona as a “tough on crime” politician, helping to craft unequal sentencing laws that put thousands of young Black men in prison for crack while individuals caught with powder cocaine received significantly more lenient treatment.

Biden wasn’t done making racially insensitive remarks quite yet, though. During the very same interview, he declared that “Blacks are not as diverse in their thinking” compared to Hispanic Americans, sending an unmistakable message that he considers Black voters a monolithic bloc — albeit with some “notable exceptions” — whose support he is entitled to by dint of his party affiliation.

That sense of entitlement is precisely the problem. Biden, like other Democrats, takes Black voters for granted. He shows a profound lack of respect towards the Black community, acting as though we have no choice but to vote for him, yet not putting in any of the work to actually earn our votes by understanding our interests and concerns.

We’re long past the point when Biden’s comments could feasibly be written off as “gaffes.” We still remember a campaign town hall in Iowa last summer when the former vice president tried to reassure us that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids,” directly implying not only that Black children are all poor, but also that they’re failing to live up to their own potential.

Black Americans deserve better than Joe Biden’s patronizing condescension, but we’ll never be treated with respect and dignity until we demonstrate to the Democratic establishment that we won’t tolerate shabby treatment or lip service. If Biden and other Democrat politicians are going to claim to represent us, then they must earn our support. They are not entitled to our votes just because we’re Black.

A generation of African American families have been devastated by the policies that Joe Biden supported over the course of his long career in Washington. A change was needed and President Trump took action, doing more for the Black community in three years than Biden did in 30. It’s very simple to me: President Trump’s handling of the economy, his support for historically black colleges, and his criminal justice initiatives have convinced me that he is the best candidate at this moment. This is not about switching parties; it’s about what’s best for our community.

I’m a lifelong Democrat, but I still demand accountability from my own party. All Black Americans should do the same.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

Vernon Jones is an American Democratic politician from the U.S. state of Georgia. Jones was chief executive officer of Dekalb County, Georgia, from 2001 until 2009, and in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1993 to 2001. Jones was elected to the Georgia House in 2016.

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