The infamous clash between Breakfast Club host Charlamagne Tha God and former vice president Joe Biden kicked off because the radio host was asking far too many questions. He didn’t seem to know his place.
The seminal moment in 2020 presidential campaign history may end up determining the fate of the presumed Democratic Party nominee and the outcome of the November election.
Charlamagne has become the unflinching, unapologetic voice of his 4 million young black listeners in an epic clash of generations, one fiercely independent and the other condescendingly paternalistic.
Listen, you’ve got to come see us when you come to New York, VP Biden,” Charlamagne said as Biden was rushing off to another engagement, bringing the inquisitive interview last Friday to a premature end.
“It’s a long way until November. We’ve got more questions,” said Charlamagne.
“You’ve got more questions?” Biden replied. “Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley lambasted Biden in a Friday tweet: “I have struggled with Biden’s recent remarks. They were gut wrenchingly condescending. Regardless of color, gender, or class, to label any individual with what he or she is expected to think, believe, and vote is demeaning and disrespectful. Not to mention arrogant and entitled.”
Charlemagne appeared on MSNBC’s AM Joy on Sunday to discuss the backlash Biden triggered in the black community. The former vice president’s opinion about what constitutes blackness — loyally voting for a Democrat without making demands — has offended a wide cross-section of the community.
“They’ve got to make some real policy commitments to black people,” he told host Joy Reid. “We’ve got to stop acting like the fact that blacks are overrepresented in America when it comes to welfare, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction, crime, coronavirus — that’s no accident. The whole function of systemic racism is to marginalize black people.”
Charlamagne outlined the titanic schism in the community that confronts black youth. On one side are “whites telling us to stay in our place” and on the other, “black people saying, ‘Oh, stop, now is not the time, you’re going to get Trump re-elected.’”
“It has to come to the point where we stop putting the burden on black voters and start putting the burden on Democrats to show up for black voters.”
“On top of possible Russian interference and voter suppression, they have to worry about voter depression,” said Charlemagne. “And that’s people staying home on election day because they aren’t enthused by the candidate.”
You can’t act like this is the most important election ever but run a campaign from your basement and not make some real policy commitments to the black community and not listen to some of the demands that the black community are making. I think people are sitting around hoping that Trump loses instead of going out there and actually beating him.”
Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton faced a similar conundrum when two Black Lives Matter activists interrupted her 2016 speech at a cushy $500-a-ticket fundraiser in Charleston, South Carolina.
They demanded apologies for statements she made about black youth in 1996 as she supported her husband Bill Clinton’s bid for reelection. She defended his 1994 crime bill that pushed for tougher policing of gang members.
“We need to take these people on. They are often connected to big drug cartels. They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators,'” then-first lady Hillary Clinton said. “No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
“We want you to apologize for mass incarceration,” unwelcome ticket holder Ashley Williams demanded. “I’m not a ‘super predator,’ Hillary Clinton, she pressed as Clinton rambled on, trying to ignore the interruption.
“Will you apologize to black people for mass incarceration?” she asked again.
After a brief exchange with Clinton, the Secret Service summarily escorted Williams out of the fundraiser.