‘When Barack Obama was President, I was marching for Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner,’ said one activist
Deadspin reporter Chuck Modi took to the streets of Washington D.C. to speak with individuals in light of the 2020 Presidential elections.
One woman he spoke with was candid with the realities of America despite president-elect Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump.
“Maybe we can get back to normal. What was your normal? What was normal for you?” the woman asked. “Because when Barack Obama was President, I was marching for Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner fresh out of college.”
Though many feel as though the “work is done” after getting Trump out of office, there is a hard truth, according to the woman. “The work was never finished,” she said.
Illhan Omar retweeted the video with the caption, “Painful honest truths.”
“Not one time when we were marching for George Floyd did those people on the news – mainstream news – say we had the right to be there,” she said.
In Biden’s Saturday victory speech, he acknowledged the pivotal role African Americans played in his success during the election cycle.
“The African American community stood up again for me. You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours,” Biden said to the crowd.
Biden vowed to ease the racial tension and division in the United States and during the September presidential debate, he called out Trump for being a “racist,” according to NPR. Though Biden has said some promising things, many have called out his past actions.
In the same September debate, Trump challenged Biden on his past surrounding race: “You did a crime bill, 1994, where you call them super predators — African-Americans are super predators — and they’ve never forgotten it.”
NPR disputed that statement, acknowledging that Hillary Clinton was the one who used the phrase “super predators” in the 1990s and later apologized for that statement.
Biden’s role in writing the 1994 crime bill when he was a Delaware Senator is widely criticized today for the hardships it caused people of color. In a 2019 CNN article, Biden pushed back on the idea that the bill lead to mass incarceration.
“Folks, let’s get something straight. This idea that the crime bill generated mass incarceration—it did not generate mass incarceration.”
In 1972, after his election to the Senate, Biden criticized desegregating schools through the busing system. According to NPR, judges ordered buses be a remedy to segregation by sending Black students to white-dominated schools. The idea experienced push back from white residents.
“It was a classic liberal position to say, ‘I’m in favor of school integration in Little Rock or Montgomery and Selma, but not so much in Boston, Chicago, New York or Wilmington,” said historian and author Matthew Delmont.
He followed that Biden was “right” to focus his intentions on desegregation but “you can’t say you’re in favor of housing integration and not also be fighting for school integration at the same time.”
“There is academic ferment against it. There are young Black and young white leaders against it. There is social unrest which highlights it,” Biden said in a 1975 NPR interview.
It was a point that Sen. Kamala Harris, his future running mate, made in the 2019 presidential debate, asking, “Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America?”
Eventually, perceptions surrounding Biden shifted and he became a widely-adored Vice President to Barack Obama.
Just as the young D.C. woman emphasized, the racial injustices during Trump’s presidency, Obama’s presidency and before, will still prevail. We have to make the “system uncomfortable” in order to make real change, said the woman.
“We got a blatant bigot and racist out of the way, but now we still have to do the work to dismantle the system what constantly oppresses black, brown and Indigenous people, period,” she concluded.
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