Joe Biden, former vice president under President Barack Obama, often is criticized for his tendency to misspeak on issues or even in his storytelling zeal while campaigning. But he is a man of experience in the ways of the federal government and he has a reputation of reaching across the aisle to cooperate in getting things done in the best interests of the country.
We think some of his words at a black church in Alabama last Sunday are worth quoting because they are insightful and ring true. He was visiting a church in Birmingham that was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan in the civil rights era in 1963.
We all know that there are whites who seem to have been born with prejudice against blacks and other people of color. Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and is waging a campaign to win additional African-American support, said racism has been with this country since before its founding.
“In a centuries-long campaign of violence, fear, trauma, brought upon black people in this country, the domestic terrorism of white supremacy has been the antagonist of our higher ideals since before the founding of this country,” Biden told the congregation of a Baptist Church.
“Those who are white try but we can never fully understand,” he said in condemning institutional racism as the direct legacy of slavery. He added that the nation has “never lived up to the ideals of equality written into its founding documents.”
The military brought the whites and blacks into close contact after the forces were integrated in 1948. Living, training and fighting together, there was no color line when it came to the military mission. The same can be said of sports on all levels. Blacks and whites are united in their goals in those endeavors. There have been instances of discrimination in the military and in sports, but it is not common. The same could be said about the entertainment field and in other professions and roles in life.
There are countless examples today of whites and blacks working together, respecting each other and reaching life’s goals. But as Biden said, whites can never fully understand what it is like to be a person of another color.
Racism will never be stomped out, but degrees of understanding have come a long way. Progress has been made in the cause of understanding.