Someone just asked me, “Hey Jill, do you think Joe Biden is DOA.” My answer to that is: of course and that was before his racist coded comments about his competitor Barack Obama. In case you hadn’t heard, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware recently launched another ridiculous vanity presidential campaign with this comment about frontrunner Obama:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook,man.”

African-American Political Pundit says back:

“I mean, Joe Biden’s comments were storybook old school ‘read between the lines’ bigotry, man.”

Spencer Overton at BlackProf says:

First, the comment seems to put down past African-American presidential candidates like Shirley Chisolm, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Carol Moseley Braun.

Second, the use of the word “articulate” hits a special nerve. African Americans often feel as though many Whites use the word “articulate” as acceptable code for “he/she doesn’t sound ‘Black…”

La Shawn Barber sadly isn’t so sure but if you read comments to her whimpering post and the comments at the BlackProf, you will get a solid picture of what the average black middle class person(read: critical Democratic voters) think about Biden’s comments.

Predictably, Jackass Joe’s just digging himself deeper in the pile of manure with attempts at ahem, clarification like:

About his use of the word “clean” to describe Obama, Biden explained by saying, “My mother has an expression: clean as a whistle, sharp as tack. That’s the context.”

Before I remind everyone about Biden’s recent history of racism and assert why Democrats need to make an example of Biden, please allow me to decode this statement — also by Biden:

“So I called Barack,” he added, “and he said ‘Joe you don’t have to explain anything to me.’”

I have to give it to my man Barack on this because at least to African-Americans, Obama just fought back Biden’s code with a little code of his own — and let Biden carry the message to us for him. Clever. See, Biden doesn’t have to explain anything to Obama because Obama (and the rest of black folk) already knew he was racist. This just further confirmed our conclusions. There’s nothing to explain.

To those white people who don’t get it, let me break it down for you. The only people described as “articulate” regularly in American society are precocious children and Negroes. People — “well-meaning” white people over 55 usually — will actually say this in the faces of children and African-Americans of all ages as if it’s a compliment. When said to black people, we know what it means. It means “you don’t sound black.” Whatever it is that “black” is supposed to sound like. It’s a back-handed compliment meant to degrade passively/aggressively. It’s meant to diminish our uppity ambitious behinds, our accomplishments and poise, and put us right back in our place. Biden’s use of the childhood phrase “clean as a whistle, sharp as tack” only cements the latent racist connection apparent in his mind — and in mine.

It’s happened to me. And when someone apologizes in the working world context to me for something they’ve said that’s ahem, unfortunate and ethnically offensive, I look that well-meaning white man or woman right in the eye and say “You don’t have to explain anything to me. I understand exactly what you were trying to say.” Then I smile and walk away with a clenched jaw and a mental note: “Undercover Racist.” What I’d like to say is: “I understand that you are unable to articulate appropriately how my presence as an equal in your world makes you uncomfortable.”

The problem for the Democratic Party is that Biden’s racism is no longer so undercover. It’s making manifest more and more. And doing damage. There was this last July from Biden:

In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

Ha ha.

Then in December 2006, there was this sad attempt to woo Southern conservatives:

Delaware, [Biden] noted, was a “slave state that fought beside the North. That’s only because we couldn’t figure out how to get to the South. There were a couple of states in the way.”

Democrats must prove to minorities that they are different from the Republicans. They have to distance themselves from guys like Biden if they hope to retain and build the strong minority turnout that tips the red-blue balance in their favor.

Without leading Democrats like say, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, coming out and condemning Biden’s repeated comments, it sends a message to African-Americans, Indian-Americans — all Americans — that Joe Biden’s viewpoint is as valued and protected by the Democrats as that of Trent Lott and George Allen by the Republicans. Unless Democrats want Biden to continue his Macaca moments and drive away voters, unless they don’t want to be the party of the future instead of the party longing for the past, Biden must be punished in a public way for me to see that the Democratic party is interested in keeping my loyalty for the long term.

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