On Thursday Twitter sounded off on presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for comments he made to the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. During a virtual address to members of the organizations, he said the Latino community in the United States was diverse, “unlike the African American community with notable exceptions.”
The comments drew backlash as it appeared that Biden was suggesting African Americans engage in groupthink and rarely differ in opinions, practices, and culture. “Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly diverse attitudes about different things,” Biden said. “You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration than you do in Arizona. So it’s a very diverse community.”
It’s unclear why Biden chose those words. As Politico reported, the question asked by NPR reporter Lulu Garcia-Navarro was about whether Biden would engage with Cuba on the differing immigration concerns between Cuban and Venezuelan Americans. Symone Sanders, a senior Biden campaign adviser, said in a statement that the editing on the video suggests the comments were about racial diversity, but they, in fact, were not.
Later on Thursday, Biden made similar comments contrasting the two communities while speaking on what he considers “full diversity.”
“Now when I mean full diversity, unlike [the] African American community, many other communities, you’re from everywhere. From Europe. From the tip of South America, all the way to our border and Mexico and in the Caribbean. And different backgrounds, different ethnicities, but all Latinos.”
Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested that all African Americans live in “inner cities” ridden with crime and poverty, but that did not stop his campaign from jumping on the comments in an attempt to undermine Biden’s tight grip on the African American vote.
Thursday night the former VP attempted to clarify his earlier comments by saying, “In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith — not by identity, not on issues, not at all,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “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.”
He concluded by saying, “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.”