Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said comments from his opponent for the Democratic nomination Vice President Joe Biden on working with Southern segregationist senators and bussing legislation in the 1970s are causing a lot of pain.
Booker said, “As a guy growing up, a young black guy in America, who was followed, surveilled, being perceived to be a threat, again, this is just another example of just conversations or lessons that Joe Biden shouldn’t have to learn. There’s a lot of his record from bussing to the 1994 crime bill. I was in law school when that was going on when you saw African-American men being arrested at rates that were unconscionable. I came from Yale and Stanford, where people were using marijuana, using drugs, but lived in a country where there’s no difference between drug usage and drug selling between blacks and whites, but African-Americans are almost four times more likely to be incarcerated for those things. And these are very typical, painful issues to the point now that because of a lot of legislation that Joe Biden endorsed, this war on drugs, which has been a war on people, we’ve now had an increase in the prison population since 1980, overwhelmingly black and brown. There’s more African-Americans under criminal supervision today than all the slaves in 1850. These are real, painful, hurtful issues. Again, we need nominees that can speak to this in a way that heals, that brings people together, that rises us up as a country to not only deal with historic and systemic racism but helps us to come together and deal with our common purpose and common cause.”
He continued, “What we’ve seen from the vice president over the last month is an inability to talk candidly about the mistakes he made, about things he could have done better, about how some of the decisions he made at the time in difficult context actually have resulted in really bad outcomes. And this is a bad culture where you can’t admit mistakes, where you can’t speak to your vulnerabilities and your imperfections. We all have them, but when it comes to difficult issues with race, if you can’t talk openly and honestly about your own development on these issues, I think it’s very hard to lead our country forward so that we actually can deal with our past and rise to a better common cause and common future. We have one destiny in this nation. Right now, the vice president to me is not doing a good job at bringing folks together. In fact, he’s— and I’ve heard this from people all around the country—he’s causing a lot of frustration and even pain with his words.”
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