Here’s what’s wrong with what Joe Biden said about black people

I wrote about this topic yesterday because I was genuinely surprised that so many black progressives refused to give Joe Biden a pass on his “you ain’t black” comment. Al Sharpton said no one should be doing that and most surprising to me was the reaction of Bernie Sanders’ press secretary Briahna Joy Gray who argued that this was a form of identity politics which was basically racist in nature.

I didn’t really spend much time looking at the reaction from the right but earlier today a rapper named Zuby (more about him below) who holds conservative views on a lot of issues, put up a thread which made some great points about why what Biden said is so offensive and the assumptions behind it. He makes some great points about the way this charge (“you ain’t black”) is part of a long, hurtful history of black people being told they aren’t really black if they don’t toe a certain political line.

Joe Biden knows that, statistically speaking, he’s probably going to get the majority of the black vote. And if he were asked about that he could simply say, “I feel confident I’ll get the majority of the black vote.” That’s still an assumption on his part but he could point to past elections and make the argument. But what he actually did was engage in a kind of in-group social punishment. As Briahna Joy Gray said, that form of identity politics is arguably racist from the outset. Just because someone is black does not mean you know anything about them as an individual. Zuby is a perfect example of that.

But perhaps the worst part of this is that in order to issue this kind of statement, Biden had to assume a kind of honorary membership in a group he’s not really part of, something he did via his politics. Then based on that he told people who are actually black that they don’t deserve to be part of the group. In a sense, Joe Biden was saying: I’m politically black enough that I can say with confidence that some of you “ain’t black.” That’s just astoundingly arrogant, not to mention stupid. If you watch the clip, it wasn’t really a reaction to anything the show’s host said. Biden came up with that on his own. Biden did apologize but it’s hard to imagine any conservative making a statement like this and not having the the term “racist” follow them around for the rest of their career.

So who is Zuby? I’d never heard of him before but he has a bunch of rap videos and has done interviews with a number of shows. Here’s one he did last year with Sky News talking about hot button issues including trans women participating in women’s sports, reparations, cultural appropriation, etc. He also discusses his background growing up in the UK and Saudi Arabia, going to Oxford to study computer science and becoming a professional rapper. He’s an interesting guy and any American who would assume his politics based on his skin color would wind up looking pretty foolish.

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