The racial controversy is piling up around the campaign of former vice president Joe Biden, and now Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is getting some shots in after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) drew blood during Thursday night’s debate.
During a speech in Chicago for Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition on Friday, Joe Biden tried to defend his civil rights record, and possibly only made things worse.
“We need to make sure that black mothers feel confident when they send their son out on the street that they will feel safe,” Biden said during the speech. “We’ve got to recognize that kid wearing a hoodie may very well be a poet laureate, and not a gang banger.”
Biden’s hoodie reference evokes the death of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was killed by George Zimmerman while walking through a neighborhood in Sanford, Florida, at night. Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was approached by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain.
Booker rejected the premise that a hoodie should ever even be considered a signifier of criminal or gang affiliation.
“This isn’t about a hoodie,” Booker wrote on Twitter. “It’s about a culture that sees a problem with a kid wearing a hoodie in the first place. Our nominee needs to have the language to talk about race in a far more constructive way.”
One might argue that what Booker is tweeted and what Biden said are actually making the same point: That the physical appearance of a kid wearing a hoodie should not be used to judge that person’s character or value.
But, Booker as well as Harris, are facing the uphill climb of winning the black vote from Biden, who has been polling extremely well with African Americans so far. His good numbers can likely be attributed to the perception that Biden has the best chance to defeat President Donald Trump, and Biden’s long association with former president Barack Obama.