The former Vice President made the comments during the latter part of a loaded interview with the radio program The Breakfast Club on Friday. During the show, co-host Charlamagne tha God grilled Biden over his positions on racial issues, as well as his commitment to African-American voters -- a reference perhaps to Biden's past work as a senator, wherein he publicly opposed measures to ensure equal treatment for the African-American community by authoring bills against school integration in the 1970s despite positioning himself as a champion of civil rights.
He was also questioned over several pressing issues such as criminal justice reform and marijuana legalization, as well as his role in the creation of the controversial Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 or the “Crime Bill.” According to his most vocal critics, the Crime Bill helped lay the groundwork for mass incarcerations throughout the country -- an issue that predominantly affects African-Americans.
The interview, which was already contentious for the most part, took an unexpected turn after Biden asked to cut the conversation, noting that he had been notified by an aide that his wife, Jill Biden, had an engagement and would have to use the same basement studio he was using.
As heard on the original broadcast, Charlemagne attempted to stop Biden, telling the former Vice President that “You (Biden) can’t do that to black media.”
Biden then retorted that he can “…do that to white media and black media, because my wife has to go on at 6 o’clock.”
Charlemagne then attempted to defuse the situation and asked Biden to drop by the program again come November this year, noting that he had more questions to ask the former Vice President.
It was at this point that Biden launched into a rapid-fire tirade defending his record with the black community.
“You got more questions but I tell ya, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” Biden said, before elaborating on what he said was a spotless record highlighted by endorsements from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The radio host then shot back, noting that their conversation had “nothing” to do with the current president, but rather, to his community.
The exchange spawned numerous satire articles and memes mocking Joe Biden, including this one: "You Ain't Black Enough CRACKERS," a new food fundraiser for the Joe Biden campaign, manufactured in Whitesplains, Virginia.
Biden has since issued an apology, noting during a call with the U.S. Black Chambers, an African-American business group, that he had been “cavalier” and that he came off as if he was taking the African-American vote for granted.
“I’ve never ever done that, and I’ve earned it every time I’ve run. I was making the point that I have never taken the vote for granted. And in fact, I know in order to win the presidency, I need the African-American vote,” Biden stressed during the call, noting that support from the African-American community was the driving force behind his win during the primaries.
Biden also said during his call that he “shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” and that “no one should have to vote for any party based on their race, their religion, their background.”
Critics, however, have since lashed out at the career politician — including progressives and Democrats.
“The comments were offensive, insensitive, out of touch... It’s just not good for the presumed future leader of the Democratic Party in our nation to say anything like that,” Yvette Simpson of the progressive group Democracy for America, said, noting in a statement published in ABC News that Biden believes he is owed African-American votes.
“I think he believes that anybody who doesn’t like Trump is automatically going to vote for him. And that he doesn’t have to earn the vote of base voters, whether they be women or black and brown people or what have you. That’s false,” Simpson added.
The NAACP has also fired back at Biden, with NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson noting on CBSN Friday that Biden should not assume that he has the full support of the African-American community during the election.
Republicans, not surprisingly, have also launched a wave of criticism on the 77-year-old career politician, with Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, describing Biden’s comments as “offensive and patronizing to black voters.”
"That is as arrogant and offensive and demeaning as I can imagine in this time we are living," the South Carolina senator said in a statement published on Newsweek, urging Democrats to not only disavow Biden's remarks, but also, to tell Biden to stop making similar statements, which he described as merely “race-baiting” that “has no place in the 21st Century.”
Symone Sanders, Biden’s senior adviser, has since clarified Biden’s remarks, noting in a statement that the comments were made in “jest.”
“The comments made at the end of The Breakfast Club interview were in jest, but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period,” Sanders said.