Over the years, I've heard this line from so many black friends and relatives that it became a kind of racing joke.
Most commentators describe Harris' exchange with Biden on the second night of the Democratic debate as a potential precursor to the nomination of the Democratic president. But Harris has dropped a bomb on Biden that is bigger than politics. It revealed a psychological shift in some parts of the black community that has been building up for years.
The old days of blacks, when they come to terms with questionable leaders because they feel they have no choice, could be over. No longer an attempt to understand white racism, to forget about the effects of slavery and to move away from the past because "this is a time of healing".
Forgiveness does not always have to be divine. sometimes it leads to something worse.
Biden not only misinterpreted the room, he misinterpreted the time.
There are two reasons why Harris' attack on Biden left such deep bruises.
Fatigue of Forgiveness
It's not hard to understand why they made that decision. The forgiveness of the enemy is a central teaching of Christianity. It is also pragmatic. Forgive so that you will not be consumed by hate. This belief was the spiritual backbone of the civil rights movement.
I remember one moment during a church meeting, when a white man from South Africa told black members of my church that they could never get ahead in politics if they did not try to understand the white racism. A black woman interrupted him and said, "Why do we always have to be the people who need to understand?"
But since the shootings in Charleston there has been a rethink.
I call it forgiveness fatigue.
And then there was the anger that was going on during the presidency of President Barack Obama.
Harris may have trapped Biden during the debate, but The Trap was actually made years earlier when he was the vice president of the nation's first black president. He did not see it then, and he has not seen it this week.
Buses are still a raw topic for many blacks.
One of the most electrified moments in Harris' exchange with Biden came when she relied on her own experience to be bused. She initially said she did not believe Biden was a racist, but quoted his refusal of bus traffic and added:
"There was a little girl in California who was part of the second grade to integrate her public schools, and she was driving to the school every day, "Harris said. "And this little girl was me."
And to this little girl, too, countless brown and black children, who were driven to white schools by buses during the debate, joined one of the most overlooked periods in US history – the Busing Wars that followed the classic civil rights movement.
If you look into a history book, you'll see countless discussions about "I Have a Dream" and the end of Jim Crow. But there are not many public schools that teach what happened in the second phase of the classical civil rights movement – the attempt to actually integrate the country's public schools.
Millions of black and brown children were predominantly brought together with white pupils schools in cities outside the South during the 60s, 70s and 80s, but failed largely for one reason: whites outside the South were often as racist as those in the South by Jim Crow.
Buses provoked fierce opposition from many white parents across the country. And finally, in the decades after the 1960s, the Supreme Court issued a series of decisions that brought the movement to integrate national schools to a standstill.
Matthew Delmont, author of "Why Busing Failed: Race, Media and the National Resistance to School Desegregation," many white parents outside the South said that their children should not share classrooms with black and brown children.
Their schools had better teachers, resources, and smaller classrooms than the typical black public school, and they wanted to keep it that way.
"White people did not support the civil rights movement, if that meant they had to give up something – that's the history of the North," said Delmont, a professor of history at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
The northern education systems have been equally invested in maintaining the benefits of pure white schools as those in the South, Delmont said.
"It had a different name and accent than the South, but it had the same purpose," he said.
At the same time, there are countless black and brown adults of middle age and older, such as Harris, who remember bus rides as a formative experience. You can remember how they got up at dawn to take a three-hour bus ride to the white schools throughout the city. These adults also remember that they have received a level of instruction and resources that they know today they would never have received in a purely black public school.
Some even made lifelong friendships with people of other races whom they would never have met otherwise.
"There were bumps on the road, but it was mostly a positive experience for them," Delmont said about the black and brown students sitting in the bus.
And many black parents know that their children would never have gotten Better education, if not the two words – federal intervention.
Black children were sent to mostly white schools through a combination of judicially ordered repeal orders and armed forces. The resistance of whites to black and brown children in white schools was so intense.
Biden still criticizes what he calls "forced bus driving". After his debate with Harris, his campaign published a statement that said:
"Joe Biden has always been in favor of volunteer bus driving and ordered federal-level coaching to end the separation of men and women, and he has always been An advocate of integration, however, saw this as enforced on bus driving was not the proper mechanism to achieve this in Delaware, because it was an excessive burden on African American families and children. "
School integration, however, would never have happened if Only white parents and whites would have been left to school districts, said Ravi Perry, new chairman of the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington.
Perry said bus travel is a "central theme for the black experience". He quoted the famous story of "Little Rock Nine." It took the mobilization of the National Guard to ensure that the black students were admitted to the previously pure white school.
"If the federal government did not intervene, where would we be? That was a federal intervention," Perry said.
Greater Than Politics
Blacks today are not just expecting more from white leaders; They also demand more from celebrity personalities in the black community.
One of the revelations that came out of the Jussie Smollett case earlier this year is that the black community will not flock around fought over black celebrities just for scolding racism.
But unlike O.J. In an earlier era, Smollett Simpson was unable to leave the community behind because black people are increasingly understanding the difference between "authentic blackness" and "strategic blackness," Tanya Hernandez, a professor at the Faculty of Law at Fordham University in New York "Today's Trump world means we do not have the luxury of being uncritical about who gets our communal love and support," said Hernandez, author of "Multiracial and Civil Rights": Mixed Race Stories of Discrimination. "
Hernandez said the black community and its allies" could no longer promote brothers who act in ways that call into question the existence of genuine violence and bias.
Would that happen today?
"By no means," Perry said. "The young blacks today would not support either a Democratic or a Republican president just because they are black."
In earlier times, black voters often felt that they had no choice but to come to terms with white politicians like Biden. They could sometimes appear deaf or even racist, but many black voters felt that they had no choice.
Not anymore. Consider the look of the democratic debate. They were almost as damaging to Biden as Harris's words.
On the stage were men of color and women. It graphically showed black voters that they have a choice now, said Jackson, the commentator who is also the founder and CEO of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival.
"I think people are starting to understand that we need to take these steps to get white men off the hook," says Jackson. "You look up now and you have Kamala, you have Elizabeth Warren, you have Castro."
And you have a new reality. The times when a white or black leader might get black support when he says the past is the past, I have evolved, and this should be a time of healing.
The Harris-Biden moment suggests that this moment has come.
If Biden did not know these new rules, he knows now. And others too.