Vice President Kamala Harris faced criticism after she sided with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott on a Thursday morning appearance on “Good Morning America,” agreeing with his assertion that America is “not a racist country.”
Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, defended America’s record on race on Wednesday in response to President Joe Biden’s first address to Congress.
During Biden’s address, delivered on the eve of his 100th day in office, the president argued that a more involved government would benefit American lives, and called on Democrats and Republicans to come together.
“We have to prove democracy still works. That our government still works — and can deliver for the people,” Biden said.
Biden also addressed race and policing during his speech, urging the Senate to pass a policing bill named after George Floyd.
“We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black Americans,” the president said.
While delivering the GOP response to Biden’s address Scott took aim at Biden’s comments on the state of race in America, suggesting the president is not fulfilling his promise to “unite a nation and lower the temperature.”
“Three months in, the actions of the president are pulling us further and further apart, Scott said.”
“Here me clearly: America is not a racist country. It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different discrimination. And it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.”
In response to Scott’s comments, Harris told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Thursday, “No, I don’t think America is a racist country. But we also do have to speak truth about the history of racism in our country and its existence today. And I applaud the president for always having the ability and the courage, frankly, to speak the truth.”
On social media users criticized Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian descent, for her comments on race. “This is your representation?” one user asked.
Another found the news that Scott, a Republican, and Harris, a Democrat, agreed on the matter to be disheartening
Dr. Boyce Watkins also addressed the implications of the fact that pair agreed.
Harris noted the growing security threat of white supremacy during the interview, adding that it wouldn’t be helpful to “ignore the realities of that.”
Scott became resolute in his assessment after Kamala’s interview followed by a Friday morning interview Biden did with the “Today Show.” “No amount of backward bigotry will shake my faith in the goodness of America. I meant what I said on Wednesday night, and I’m glad Joe Biden and Kamala Harris agreed with me: America is not a racist country,” tweeted the South Carolina senator on Friday.
When asked by Craig Melvin whether he too thought America was racist, the president responded,
“No, I don’t think the American people are racist. But I think after 400 years, African-Americans have been left in a position where they are so far behind the eight ball in terms of education, health in terms of opportunity. I don’t think America is racist but I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow—and before that, slavery—have had a cost.”
Scott has also been in the spotlight in recent weeks as he continues to be involved in bipartisan negotiations about police reform legislation.
In response to a bill sponsored by California Rep. Karen Bass that would end qualified immunity protections for police officers, Scott proposed a compromise that would transfer liability away from individual officers to the departments they serve rather than strip officers of qualified immunity.
Scott said last week that the talks are “on the verge of wrapping soon,” but Missouri Rep. Cori Bush said she won’t support the compromise and that quality immunity needs to end.
“We compromise, we die,” Bush said.