Joe Biden Says Black Parents Need To Do Better In Response To Question About Slavery

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Joe Biden
Former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden interacts with a supporter during a campaign stop at the Community Oven restaurant in Hampton, N.H., Monday, May 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

At Thursday’s third presidential debate, former Vice President Joe Biden was asked what responsibility Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery.

Biden’s record on lack of support for slavery reparations is becoming more troubling for him.

“In a conversation about how to deal with segregation in schools back in 1975, you told a reporter, ‘I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather, I feel responsible for what the situation is today for sins of my own generation and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago,'” ABC News moderator Lindsay Davis reminded him.

In his reply, Biden rambled and passed up the opportunity to talk about reparations, instead briefly mentioning institutional segregation and redlining. Then he pivoted to argue that schools need more money, teachers and parents need more help, and that poor parents need to change how they raise their children.

Ashley Feinberg of Slate described Biden’s response as “one of the top ten hardest things I’ve ever tried to transcribe,” according to the Washington Post. Here’s part of Biden’s response:

Play the radio, make sure the television ― excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the ― the ― make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school ― a very poor background will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.

Joe Biden, third presidential deabte.

Biden has not supported reparations for slavery. In May, he told WMUR, “We should take action to deal with the systemic things that still exist in housing and insurance and a whole range of things that make it harder for African-Americans,” including, he said, voting rights issues.

Talking exclusively about poverty and how families should raise their children doesn’t get at the root of the legacy of slavery, HuffPost reported. The idea of a word gap between rich and poor children is controversial. If there is a gap, it’s not clear how big it is.

Many lower-income children experience a “word wealth” when they grow up in multilingual families, Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, a professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, told NPR.

“Joe Biden’s answer on how to address the legacy of slavery was appalling — and disqualifying,” Time editor Anand Giridharadas tweeted.

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Despite the way he answered the reparations question, Vox declared Biden the winner of the debate who “could easily cruise to victory”. CNN also called Biden as the winner, saying his performance has improved with each debate. Washington Post described his performance as “either ‘presidential’ or ‘disqualifying’ — depending on your media source.”

“Somebody gotta say it: The overwhelming support for Joe Biden is based purely off fear that white folks won’t vote for anyone else on that stage. Because there is no way you see him in these moments and think he’s actually the best candidate,” Atlantic writer and podcaster Jemele Hill tweeted.

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