When the jury deliberating the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial for the death of George Floyd signaled that they had reached a verdict after 10 hours of deliberation, America and the world collectively held their breath.
According to a recent USA Today/Ipsos poll, 71% of Americans agreed with the guilty verdict.
After the verdict of guilty on all three counts was read, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both spoke out to share their thoughts.
Biden praised the conviction of former Minneapolis officer Chauvin and accused the United States of harboring a deep-seated “systemic racism.”
Harris concurred, saying the verdict “will not heal the pain that existed for generations.”
Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland echoed Biden and Harris’ sentiments and further elaborated by saying that racism is an “American problem.”
Garland explained that he doesn’t believe that Americans of different racial backgrounds, including individuals of color, African Americans, and other ethnic minorities, do not have “equal justice under the law.”
Biden’s past record
Biden’s record as a longtime U.S. Senator, however, does not match his current stance on racism.
For instance, Biden was a staunch opponent of “forced busing” in the 1970s. As a facilitator of racial inequalities with drug laws, he was a leading champion of mass incarceration and harsh drug laws in the 80s and 90s.
Biden also described former President Obama, then a candidate for the presidency, by saying, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
During a 2019 Democratic presidential primary debate, Vice President Harris brought up Biden’s past opposition to busing, saying it was “hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who build their reputations and career on segregation of race in this country.”
Harris was referring to Biden’s relationships with former Senators Herman Talmadge and James Eastland, both Democrats, both of whom were staunch segregationists.
Biden also eulogized the late Republican Senator Strom Thurmond as “one of my closest friends” and someone who “believed in the diversity of America.”
Thurmond in fact was one of the strongest opponents of the mandatory busing to desegregate schools in the 70s and 80s, along with Biden.
With a past political record rife with controversy and glaring differences with his stated current stance, Biden and his administration will have much to prove when it comes to healing racial inequalities. Time will tell.