Biden’s Record Player Moment

This is tricky, difficult territory, but I feel the need to say just a few things.

Lots of white pundits have been pontificating on this matter, and some have predicted that Biden’s purported gaffe will drive down his black support. I am a white person, and it seems presumptuous to speculate about how black people might react. So I will not do so, except to say that black people are like white people: they are diverse, and some see things differently from others.

So I don’t speak for black people. Nor do I speak for white people. I speak only for myself.

I volunteered with little kids in the inner city for about twenty years. Biden’s point that poor children typically come to kindergarten with significantly smaller vocabularies than middle class children is, in my experience, entirely accurate.

An intelligent second grader didn’t know the meaning of “messy,” so he couldn’t answer a multiple choice question correctly, so his teacher thought he was developmentally disabled. He was fine: it’s just that he had a low vocabulary. And once he learned what “messy” means, he had no trouble answering the question.

Fourth graders, reading The Littlest Mermaid, didn’t know what it meant when the Littlest Mermaid swam to the “surface” of the water. Another fourth grader had trouble with her homework assignment on the weather because she did not know the meaning of “thunderstorm.”

And, no, these children were not at all retarded. They were children of normal intelligence with poor vocabularies.

And a brief word on helping parents to raise children. In the place where I live, there is a black upper class, a black middle class, and a black underclass. Among the latter, some do fine raising children—except for the fact that they don’t have much money. Some others do lack parenting skills, and their families may suffer from various types of dysfunction.

Just now, some fine African American ministers down in the inner city have joined in an interfaith effort, involving a variety of religious communities, some predominately black and some predominantly white, to identify families that would benefit from friendship and mentoring, and to provide that support.

Again, others have different perceptions and others can speak for themselves. My own African American friends in the inner city know there are problems there, they are looking for help, and they are not choosy about where the help comes from. If you are a college student wearing a hijab and you want to volunteer to help down at the AME church outreach program, just come on in. If you’re from a white congregation in another part of town, with a different theology, and you want to help, then just come on in.

As for Dr. Aardvark and myself, this is the personal reparations we feel called to make.


Today’s readers, so far, come from Hong Kong SAR China, Kenya, India, Mauritius, Serbia, the United States, and Vietnam. I had to look up Mauritius. Seems like a nice place, and I hope y’all are staying above water. And thanks again to the Hong Kong readers, though I would have thought you all would be busy on other projects.