Kristen Welker, the second Black woman to moderate a presidential debate on her own, asked the candidates directly on Thursday about an experience that Black families have every day, but that is rarely discussed on a national debate stage: The Talk, the conversation that Black parents must have with their children, telling them how to behave so police officers will not shoot them. Mr. Biden responded by talking about his daughter, who is a social worker.
“I never had to tell my daughter, if she’s pulled over, make sure she puts — for a traffic stop — put both hands on top of the wheel and don’t reach for the glove box, because someone may shoot you,” he said. “But a Black parent, no matter how wealthy or how poor they are, has to teach their child: When you are walking down the street, don’t have a hoodie on when you go across the street. Making sure that you in fact, if you get pulled over, just ‘Yes sir,’ ‘no sir,’ hands on top of the wheel.”
He continued: “The fact of the matter is, there is institutional racism in America.”
President Trump responded with one of his favorite claims: that he has done more for Black people than any president in American history, “with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, possible exception.” His actions do not remotely back up this claim.
Mr. Trump pointed, as he often does, to the criminal justice reform bill he signed, and to the 1994 crime bill that Mr. Biden signed. But, while he said he understood Black parents’ fear, his administration has repeatedly attacked racial justice movements, and he has refused to directly condemn white supremacists.
Just two weeks ago, in the vice-presidential debate, Vice President Mike Pence claimed it was offensive to say there is systemic racism in the United States.