Vice President Joe Biden has urged the U.S. to have a national conversation about institutional racism, even if that discussion is uncomfortable.
On May 19, the vice president attended the National Urban League annual policy conference in Washington, D.C. During breakfast, he addressed the audience, discussing the economic barriers that face people of color.
During his remarks, Biden stated that the U.S. is still reconciling with a legacy of institutional racism.
“No one wants to say that,” Biden said, according to Politico. “I know I sometimes speak out too loudly, sometimes, but I make no apologies for it.”
The vice president urged for there to be an open conversation about how racism impacts the everyday lives of all Americans.
“Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but these are uncomfortable times,” Biden continued. “We’ve got the shake the status quo a little bit.”
Biden noted the impact of institutional racism is evidenced “in voting, in children’s education, in the very makeup of our neighborhoods, housing patterns, employment, transportation, access to transportation.”
Referencing the 2008 economic crash that he and President Barack Obama inherited, Biden observed that the “freefall ... was particularly bad for poor folk and particularly bad for African-American and Hispanic poor folk.”
While many Americans are still hurting from the economic recession, Biden stressed there have been large gains in the economic recovery. He added the caveat that racial minorities have been the most impacted, Roll Call reports.
“Despite our successes, the recovery hasn’t been equally shared,” Biden said. “We’ve come a long way, but more has to be done.”
The vice president asserted that, eight years after the economic crash, African-Americans and Hispanics “lag way behind their white counterparts.”
Data indicates the recession widened the gap in economic inequality along ethnic lines. In 2007, the median wealth of white households was 10 times that of African-Americans. By 2013, that gap increased to 12.9 times, according to Pew Research Center.
During that same period, the median income of white households compared to Hispanic households grew from 8.2 times more to 10.3.