Joe Biden’s casual declaration that a black person "ain’t black" if they consider voting for Trump in 2020 created a firestorm of outrage late this week. He made the comment when he was being interviewed on The Breakfast Club, a YouTube show, by host Charlemagne tha God.
As Bret Baier reported, a statement by Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television and The RLJ Companies, said "we as Black people know it is exactly the opposite. He should spend the rest of his campaign apologizing to every Black person he meets."
Many black conservatives vocally called out the former Vice President, frustrated by what many of us on the right, women, LGBT, Jewish Americans, Latino Americans and so on, have to deal with from the left on a regular basis.
What's hilarious to me is that dark-skinned conservatives have been called Uncle Toms, coons, and accused of tap dancing for white people constantly. Yet here, in the face of BLATANT racism, just look at yourselves. Tappity tap, Jemele.
Beyond the inconceivably offensive assumption that a black person's ethnic or racial identity is only valid if they hold certain political views, is also the assumption of gratitude Biden seemingly felt entitled to.
As tweeted by Salon, "Take a look at my record, man. I extended the Voting Rights [Act] 25 years. I have a record that is second to none," Biden said. "The NAACP’s endorsed me every time I’ve run. I mean, come on. Take a look at the record." The argument appears to be very simply that as a black person, Charlemagne tha God, who was interviewing him, should have known better and shown gratitude for what Biden had done for him and his community.
Without using trendy sociological terms or theories of white supremacy, as someone who is regularly questioned for what I believe based exclusively on who I am I see it much more simply.
In a worldview in which individuals are grouped together into voting blocs and justice is applied collectively, a moral and just majority will always see themselves as parental authoritarians caring for the minority.
In a parent-child relationship the child, naturally, is automatically secondary in decision-making and personal autonomy will always be carefully supervised. In a worldview based on the individual, these characteristics act as unique attributes every person expresses.
In an effort to recognize the social and historical struggles of many groups throughout American history, none more profoundly tangible than the African American experience, the end result is the reduction of the individual to their social class and struggle.
When a person raises an eyebrow at my support for the GOP though I am a gay person, they may see it as confusion over political allegiance related to social issues, but in reality they are approaching me as a gay person first and an individual second. As a gay person or a black person or a woman or a Jew, the individual, their personal values, goals and their very intelligence is simply overridden by the assumptions of their assigned category.
The constant sense of the novelty of conservative or libertarian minorities is truly a response of questioning our very ability to hold our own views, values and political goals in spite of our condition of birth. It dehumanizes us by denying us the autonomy the progressive white person assumes for themselves. The assumption is that your identity dictates your beliefs, when in fact, it does not.
At the end of the conversation it is completely irrelevant which party has done the most good or harm to any particular group or which candidate best represents our "self-interests." What matters is the assumption that our minority identity and experience limits our options for self-expression through politics.
No individual is the group they belong to and no group defines the individual. While we may share cultural, historical, or religious experiences, we are all individuals in the end. The truest expression of equality is not representation for our respective groups, nor the prioritization of issues many of us find important, but the respect we are afforded as individuals, something many members of the majority simply takes for granted.