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President Biden Delivers Remarks On Economy

President Joe Biden speaks during the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 26 in Maryland on February 15, 2023. | Source: Anadolu Agency / Getty

The latest in President Joe Biden‘s unfortunate and ongoing series of racially tinged gaffes continued Wednesday in less than spectacular fashion when he made an off-color remark about Maryland’s new governor, the first Black person ever elected to that position.

Biden’s comments in question were fleeting and seemingly off-the-cuff during a speech about the state of the economy he gave to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 26 in Maryland on Wednesday. The president specifically laid out his plans to cut the national deficit by $2 trillion by 2033.

While the focus should have been on Biden’s ambitious economic agenda during a time of historic inflation, much of the resulting coverage of the speech zeroed in on one word in particular: “boy.”

That was how Biden referred to Gov. Wes Moore during what was likely intended to be glowing commentary about Maryland’s newly elected chief executive officer.

Harkening back to Moore’s days playing football as a student-athlete while attending John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Biden marveled over the governor’s physical shape.

“You got a hell of a new governor in Wes Moore, I tell ya,” Biden said to a rousing round of applause that prompted the president to also clap. “He’s the real deal. The boy looks like he could still play.”


Biden capped off those quick comments by adding, “he’s got some guns on him,” an apparent reference to Moore’s biceps.

In case there is any confusion, Moore is a 44-year-old grown man.

The phrase “the boy” is a popular third-person parlance in hip-hop circles for an off-handed reference to one’s self, not to others. Drake and Jay-Z are among those who popularized the phrase when rapping about themselves. This is clearly not what Biden was going for on Wednesday.

Biden’s words were quickly dissected in a campaign led by right-wing media to paint Biden’s words as racist by rhetorically imagining the reaction if a Republican used the same word to describe a Black man.

News articles by the likes of the New York Post, Fox News and multiple random MAGA-sympathizing blogs ensued with the overarching theme of the coverage suggesting that Biden’s words are proof of anti-Black racism.

For the uninitiated, referring specifically to a Black man as a “boy” is certainly rooted in racism dating back to the days of slavery. A federal court even ruled in 2011 “that a supervisor’s use of the word ‘boy’ to refer to black employees is sufficient evidence of racism,” according to the Harvard Policy & Law Review.

But is what Biden said about Moore racist? It is certainly tone-deaf considering Biden’s election was fueled by Black voters, his most loyal group of supporters.

And it doesn’t help that Biden has a history of using questionable phrasing when speaking about Black people. Whether that’s questioning Black voters’ blackness, downplaying Martin Luther King’s assassination or praising segregationists, the record reflects that Biden referring to a Black man as a “boy” isn’t a bridge too far.

After all, Biden made the same faux pas in 2021 when he referred to then-senior White House adviser Cedric Richmond as “a boy.”

Two years earlier, Biden was doing damage control after he had kind words for a segregation-era U.S. Senator.

“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden said at the time about the racist Mississippi Democrat. “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’”

The backlash was swift, prompting Biden — then a presidential candidate — to tell Rev. Al Sharpton that he understands “the consequence of the word ‘boy.’” Biden insisted, “it wasn’t said in any [racist] context at all.”

Fast-forward four years and Biden finds himself in a similar situation, suggesting he hasn’t learned from his past errors.

To be sure, Biden also has a history of lifting up Black people and advocating on their behalf, including but not limited to picking a Black woman to be his running mate, successfully nominating the first Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, advancing equity and opportunity for Black Americans and made overtures to eliminate student debt, which disproportionately affects Black borrowers.

With that said, it may be hard for critics to ignore Biden’s latest gaffe that falls along racial lines as he apparently gears up to mount a reelection campaign.


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