Essence - June 2019
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Joe Biden, the architect of the 1994 Crime Bill and former U.S. Vice-President, is not as slick as he thinks he is. In fact, he’s a cliché, a stock photo, an avatar, for every single liberal white man who believes that just because he’s not a member of the Republican Party or an adherent to the most virulent white supremacist policies, that he can disguise his rancid racism behind “Aw shucks, I just tell it like it is” performative politic-ing and Black people will just fall in line.
Because at least he’s not Donald Trump.
He proved that again Tuesday night at an NYC fundraiser, during which he reportedly told the crowd that he and James O. Eastland, the long-serving, segregationist, white supremacist Mississippi senator known as “The Voice of the White South,” and the “Godfather of Mississippi Politics”, shared a mutual fondness and respect for each other.
The senator from Delaware reportedly stated, “I know the new New Left tells me that I’m — this is old-fashioned. Well guess what? If we can’t reach a consensus in our system, what happens? It encourages and demands the abuse of power by a president.”
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden continued, reportedly slipping into a southern drawl. “He never called me boy, he always called me son.
Because Eastland was a refined man, you see. A civil man who only used “boy” to reinforce a racist power dynamic and dehumanize the “ni—ers” he hated so much—never Biden.
Later reports added that Biden also mentioned his fondness for segregationist Georgia Gov. Herman Talmadge, saying of both of the white supremacists, “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
It makes sense, then that while Biden’s daddy was wreaking havoc in the lives of Black Mississippians, Biden was a crusader for anti-integration, anti-busing policies and actively courting Eastland’s support.
In a March 25, 1977 letter, Biden wrote his mentor, who at the time served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, these words:
“Dear Mr. Chairman, I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s committee meeting in attempting to bring my anti-busing legislation to a vote.”
Eastland worked closely with theMississippi Sovereignty Commission, a state-sponsored white terrorist organization that aided and abetted in the assassinations of Black civil rights leaders—and surveilled others,including my grandparents.Yet, he was apparently not only a model of civility for Biden, but a political accomplice.
In asking Eastland to speak on the Senate Floor in favor of his anti-busing bill, Biden wrote the man, who once called Black people “an inferior race,” another note onAug. 22, 1978, pleading, “I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions. Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed.”
Read full commentary at Essence