Op-ed: Biden’s win does not erase racism


Holden Kilbane

This opinion is part of Moreno’s and Skylar DeBose’s new series, We Are Not Alone, which seeks to elevate experiences and opinions of people of color in the Lincoln community.

We are not in a “post-racial” world. 

The results of one election do not dismantle the systemic racism that has been embedded in the United States since white colonizers first arrived. With the election of former President Barack Obama, the first Black president, came the hope for a society that had moved past race. While Obama’s election represented a monumental success in the Black community and communities of color in general, in many ways, that one step forward led to two steps back. Each move that Obama made was counteracted with accusations of him being a liar or un-American. “We know the march is not yet over; we know the race is not yet won,” Obama said during a speech at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

While Obama’s election represented a monumental success in the Black community and communities of color in general, in many ways, that one step forward led to two steps back.

— Leela Moreno

When President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won the 2020 election, many people took to the streets to once again celebrate the idea of a post-racial United States and justice for all. Although I am glad to see that an actively and openly racist man will no longer be president come January, I have found the need to exercise caution. 

It’s frightening to think that 47% of the country didn’t vote to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. 47% of the nation voted for a blatant racist. They voted for a president that is supported by the KKK. They voted for white supremacy and against human rights. Those that voted for Trump don’t just disappear. They didn’t when Obama was elected, and they won’t when Biden and Harris take office. 

It is also important to recognize that, although we as a country are getting a much-needed upgrade, we did not elect perfect people.

I am grateful to see a woman of color in a position of power, but Harris’ identity does not mean that she has not perpetuated a system of racial injustice. As Attorney General of California, Harris did not do enough to address police brutality. She declined to investigate the police murders of two black men. Additionally, Harris did not support a state bill that would have required the attorney general to appoint a prosecutor to specialize in investigating the use of deadly force by police.

Biden has also been portrayed as something of a white savior by the Democratic party and in the mainstream media. As a moderate, appealing, white, male Democrat, he has been used to balance out the strength and controversy of people of color in higher office. Many don’t know his vast history of racist actions. Biden described the desegregation of schools as racist, opposed “forced busing” and described African-American felons as “predators” and unfit for rehabilitation. While these actions and statements were all over 20 years ago, they are inexcusable. Many choose to overlook them, but I do not, and I urge others to not turn a blind eye. 

In order for our country to grow, we cannot close our minds or turn the other way. We cannot pick and choose when to confront racism; it is a constant fight. We, the people of this country, are a crucial check on the government and we must hold our politicians accountable to their campaign promises. The United States cannot be a “more perfect union” if we continue to idolize politicians and disregard their past actions.