White Privilege, Joe Biden Style

White Privilege, Joe Biden Style

He attacked Ryan the way supporters wish Obama had gone at Romney. Here’s why that will never happen.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

(The Root) — It’s good to be white.

That’s the phrase that kept bouncing around in my head as I watched the vice presidential debate. After absorbing the horrible defeat of President Obama by Mitt Romney in the first debate, I was reminded by Dr. Blair Kelley during This Week in Blacknessand The Root’s postdebate coverage of the constraints that were placed on the first black president.

There is a legitimate fear that he may be viewed as angry by those who are already predisposed to believe that about blacks in the first place — the very real reality that some people would feel uncomfortable and less willing to vote for what they perceived to be the “scary black guy.” The day before the first presidential debate, conservative media pushed a video of Obama giving a speech in 2007 that they called “angry” and filled with “class warfare.”

So the worry of seeming angry isn’t something black people are just making up. It’s a regular aspect of our lives that many nonblack folks have a hard time grasping.

Then came the vice presidential debate. Within the first 10 minutes, Vice President Joe Biden had already called something Rep. Paul Ryan said “malarkey.” I’m fairly sure that’s some sort of world record in debates. For the next 90 minutes, we watched as Uncle Joe (come on, you know he’s like that wacky uncle you like but you have no clue what he’s going to say) interrupted, laughed at and virtually put his finger in GOP vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan’s face while outwardly mocking him.

My inner Democrat took great pleasure in this, but my outer Negro shook his head at the very thought of Obama doing the very same thing. I needed to see someone have a fit on that debate stage while pointing out how ridiculous some of the Romney-Ryan claims have been, but it was a bitter sting to remember that Obama wouldn’t be able to do it in the same manner.

Republicans have called Biden rude for his reactions to Ryan, but imagine if this were the first black president laughing at his opponent. I can feel the apoplectic hand-flailing and spit-flying responses already. Fox News would devote a six-hour block — nightly — to how much of a dick the president is. The racist memes would be flying out so fast and furious, our heads would spin.

But not with Uncle Joe.

Biden was the angry attack dog that Democrats expected Obama to be. He was annoyed, direct and indignant. He scoffed at the very idea that Ryan had any point about anything. It was so bad that at one point I tweeted, “Thank God there’s no ads in this debate. If they took a break Joe Biden would pee on Paul Ryan to show dominance.”

Now, the argument can be made that age was part of the reason Biden could get away with this. Being the older of the two debaters, he is afforded certain things that aren’t afforded the younger Ryan. An older debater can take the role of teacher and school his opponent.

But I’d argue that if Biden were black, he wouldn’t have been able to pull that off. If Biden were black, I’m not sure he would have thought he could pull that off.

Some folks reading this (or skimming angrily) are horrified at the very notion of asking what if Joe Biden were black. They clutch their pearls and shriek, “Why do you have to play the race card?” To those people I say:

1. Shut up.

2. There’s no such thing as the “race card.” It’s called “my life.”

3. Seriously, shut up.

4. Look in a mirror next time before you leave the house. Your privilege is showing.

In America, race plays both an active and passive role in all of our lives. Last night was one of those passive times. However, the implications are still as damning as they ever have been. In 2012 the fear of the scary Negro is still so real it reaches the highest office of the land and dictates its occupant’s actions.

Like I said, it’s good to be white.

Elon James White is a writer and satirist and host of the award-winning video and radio series This Week in Blackness. Listen Monday to Thursday at 1:30 p.m. EST at TWIB.FM and watch at TV.TWIB.ME/LIVE. Follow him on TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and Tumblr.

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