Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive presidential nominee for the Democratic Party, spoke with over a dozen African-American leaders at a Delaware church on Monday to discuss police brutality and racism.
When discussing the first 100 days of his presidency should he win in November, Biden explained that he planned to look towards crafting economic recovery that tackles “institutional racism” and “economic structures” that undermine minority advancement.
During his comments at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, the Democratic candidate criticized the handling of the current protests over racism and police brutality by President Donald Trump.
“Hate just hides. It doesn’t go away, and when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks,” stated Biden. “Ordinary folks who don’t think of themselves as having a prejudiced bone in their body, don’t think of themselves as racist, have kind of had the mask pulled off.”
The gathering at the church involved Biden dialoguing with attendees about racial concerns and what tangible steps he will take if elected president to handle the issue.
Biden said there was “so much the American public is now seeing” racial hatred that “came out, big time” over the past few years.
“I want to make something clear: I don’t expect anything from the black community,” said Biden, adding that the support of African-American voters “has to be earned, every single time.”
Biden’s comments about Trump’s rhetoric echo remarks he made before the National Baptist Convention’s winter meeting in Arlington, Texas, back in January.
“If I have learned anything during a time of Donald Trump being president is this: hate never goes away. It just hides,” he said at the time. “When leaders give it oxygen as Trump has done, it comes roaring back.”
Biden himself faced criticism for his record on racial civil rights during a Democratic Primary debate in June when then candidate U.S. Senator Kamala Harris took issue with his past opposition to federally mandated busing to help desegregate schools.
“… it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States Senators who built their reputations and careers on segregation of race in this country,” stated Harris at the time, who has since endorsed Biden for president.
“You also worked with them to oppose busing. And there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”
During the debate, Biden said Harris gave a “mischaracterization” of his views, responding that he believed it was best left to the local government to support or oppose busing.
“If you want to have this campaign litigated on who supports civil rights and whether I did or not, I’m happy to do that. I was a public defender,” replied Biden.