On Friday, President Trump seized the opportunity left by former Vice President Joe Biden when he made controversial remarks about the African American community. Trump tweeted, “After yesterday’s statement, Sleepy Joe Biden is no longer worthy of the Black Vote!”
After yesterday’s statement, Sleepy Joe Biden is no longer worthy of the Black Vote!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2020
In an interview published Thursday, NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro asked Biden if he would stop Cubans from being deported if he became president. Biden replied, “And by the way, what you all know, but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community, with incredibly different attitudes about different things.”
“You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you’re in Arizona,” he continued. “So it’s a very different, very diverse community.”
After huge blowback ensued from Biden’s remarks, he issued a statement on Thursday night, but there was no apology within it:
Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify. In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith—not by identity, not on issues, not at all. Throughout my career I’ve witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community. It’s this diversity that makes our workplaces, communities, and country a better place.
My commitment to you is this: I will always listen, I will never stop fighting for the African American community and I will never stop fighting for a more equitable future.
UCLA data collected just prior to the protests about the death of African-American George Floyd show younger black Americans have been holding more favorable views of President Trump than their parents and grandparents. The data collected from April 2-May 13 by the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape project, an initiative that conducted weekly surveys of thousands of potential voters for nearly a year, found that 29% of percent of black voters ages 30-44 and 21% ages 18-29 have a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” view of President Trump. This compares to just 14% of black voters 45-64 and 9% of those 65 and older.
In a February article titled, “Black Americans are not a monolithic group so stop treating us like one,” Rashawn Ray of the Brookings Institution wrote that President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech “attempted to do what political pundits and voting polls often do not – treat black people as the heterogeneous group that they are who have different experiences and care about a series of important policy issues.”
Ray added, “Though black Americans represent only 13.4% of the population, the more than 40 million of us represent a diverse array of backgrounds and political attitudes … So maybe instead of engaging in identity politics, church pop-ups and offbeat dances, political candidates should focus on speaking to the real policy concerns of all Black Americans instead of a so-called ideal type.”