Ruben Navarrette: Biden tells civil rights leaders the place they went incorrect

SAN DIEGO – I was thinking that President-elect Joe Biden had to stop talking about races. Just stop. No mas. Like yesterday. Or even better 50 years ago.

The subject is a tongue twister for the president-elect who bluntly says things that aren’t in color when it comes to color.

In five decades of civil service – including 36 years in the U.S. Senate – Biden often seemed to be missing a sensitivity filter as the race began. Whether he joked about how the 1994 Racist Crime Act he wrote “anything but hang people jaywalking” or implying that black parents don’t know “how to raise their children” without the help of social workers, he would say whatever popped up in his law head.

Despite the Democrat’s propensity to say the wrong thing every now and then, he does tell a harsh truth every now and then for people to hear. All kinds of people, black and white.

And now, strangely enough, at 78 years old, Biden may have taken his step and found something of value on the subject of race.

Biden said this valuable cause during an allegedly “closed” and confidential Zoom call he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris had with so-called civil rights leaders on December 8th.

With respect I say “so named” so as not to imply that the people on the call – five African American (including Rev. Al Sharpton and Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP) and an Indian American (Vanita Gupta, who led the way) ) the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department under President Obama) – in fact a leader in civil rights. I will admit they do.

Rather, I’m doing it to make a bigger point clear: while many people think that “civil rights” are synonymous with the rights of African Americans, the reality on the ground has evolved. 65 years after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, the definition of “civil rights” should be extended to include the rights of women, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, immigrants, the elderly, and the LGBTQ community, mentally ill, physically disabled and others. That’s all i’m saying

In any event, the organizers of the Zoom call expressly advised attendees that it should not be recorded – presumably so that Biden and Harris would not be held accountable for everything they said, promised, or promised.

But someone picked it up. And then that person mischievously spread the recording.

I think the recording was released because some of Biden’s statements, in between bragging rights and tantrums, made some participants wince and others angry.

In a column about the call, Stephen A. Crockett Jr., Senior Editor at The Root, complained about Biden’s “tone” – not just what he said, but how he said it. Talking generally about the number of times white elected officials speak to African Americans, Crockett stated, “Tone is raising your voice. It can also involve speaking to me like I’m a bloody kid.”

Before I reveal the precious part of the exchange that also happened to piss off some African American leaders on the call, here is the Honorable Mention.

The president-elect is losing patience with critics who insist he’s not doing enough to get people who look like her into the cabinet – including African Americans.

“Let’s get something straight,” said Biden. “You shouldn’t be disappointed. What I’ve done so far is more than anyone.”

Now to the main award winner.

“By 2040 this country will be a minority of whites, Europeans,” said Biden. “You hear me? Minority of white Europeans.”

White people don’t like to hear that.

“You’re going to have to work more with Hispanics, who make up a larger proportion of the population than any of you!” Said Biden.

Blacks don’t like to hear that.

Still, as a Hispanic – that is, someone who is neither white nor black – I like what I hear.

Biden is right about the numbers. In 2020, African Americans make up 13.4% of the US population; Hispanics make up 18.5%. However, some African American leaders still pretend their group is the only game in town.

US civil rights activists have long been associated with the Baptist Church. Even so, leaders don’t preach often.

You got one from Joe Biden. And they had to hear it. Now let’s hope that you will notice.

Ruben Navarrette can be reached at [email protected].
© 2020, Washington Post Writers Group

Comments are closed.