Charlamagne Tha God on Joe Biden and Black Voters

“The Breakfast Club” radio show has become a must-stop for Democratic presidential contenders. But last month, it sent shockwaves through the VP Joe Biden’s campaign when he said in an interview with co-host Charlamagne tha God that if voters choose Trump, they aren’t Black. questions were raised about whether the Democratic Party is taking the support of African American voters for granted.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Now, our next guest is Charlamagne tha God, co-host of “The Breakfast Show” radio show. And it has millions of listeners. It’s a must-see stop for Democratic presidential contenders. And it was there last month where shockwaves was sent through the campaign of the former Vice President, Joe Biden, under tough questioning from Charlamagne. Take a listen.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Listen, you got to come see us when you come to New York, V.P. Biden.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Because it’s a long way until November. We got more questions.

BIDEN: You got more questions, but I tell you, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: It don’t have nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with the fact I want something for my community.


AMANPOUR: And now here he is Charlamagne tha God with our Michel Martin.


MICHEL MARTIN: Thanks, Christiane. Charlamagne, thanks so much for joining me.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, AMERICAN RADIO PRESENTER: Thank you for having me. How are you?

MARTIN: As you and I are speaking now, it’s been a very rough couple of days, although some people would say — I’m sure others would say a rough couple of hundred years, but just let’s — talking about the last couple of days, if we can, what’s your take on what’s happening now?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Man. I think that I understand it all. You know, I can’t sit here and act like I don’t know why people are in the streets rioting. I can’t sit here and act like I don’t understand why it’s anarchy. Number one, ain’t no good going to come in this country until you do right by black people. You are not going to continue to brutalize us and kill us and think that, you know, our God is going to allow that. I just think that enough is enough. I’m actually surprised black people didn’t snap a long time ago. And then you also look at the condition of the country. Man, you have got over 40-plus million people out of work, 40-plus million people unemployed, the largest unemployment rate since the Depression era. Like, what do you think is on people’s mind? They’re trying to figure out how they are going to eat tonight. They’re trying to figure out how they’re going to pay their rent now, right, the 1st of the month. So, if somebody is angry, and they go out there and they break a window, and that window happens to be a store, and you see that you got the opportunity to get some free stuff, of course you’re going to do that. I was reading this article. It was actually an article from 10 years ago. It’s called “The Moral Ambiguity of Looting.” And it’s — and I think it was in “The New York Times” and they talk about the three levels of looting, how the first time — the first level is stealing food for survival. Right? The second level is stealing merchandise to sell to get money for survival. And the third level is just straight-up mayhem, because you’re just angry and just frustrated. People are looking at this society that we live in. They’re looking at that fascist regime in the White House and they’re seeing this guy say he’s going to deploy some military onto the streets of the country, so now we’re in a military state. So, now you’re thinking martial law. If you thought that that quarantine last — you thought that quarantine last month was martial law. No, having the military state, have a military state and having in the streets policing people, that’s really martial law. So, yes, people are rebelling. You know what I’m saying? People are angry. We cannot go back to normal. And I think that everybody was trying to do that. Right? That’s what the coronavirus thing was all about. Oh, we got to get back to normal. We got to get back to normal. We get back to what was. No, we don’t. That is a wrap. We have got to dismantle this whole system of white supremacy. And God is making sure of that. We are never going back to the way things were ever again. Like, things will change after this moment. I think about Martin Luther King Jr. after he got assassinated. I think it was like six days of riots in like 114 cities, 40-plus million dollars of damage throughout the country, and Lyndon B. Johnson signed that God (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Civil Rights Act of 1964. Something like that is going to come from this.

MARTIN: Donald Trump is not Lyndon Johnson. And he has shown no proclivity to do this. In fact, the majority leader of the Senate has already balked at having another coronavirus care package — or coronavirus relief package for the states and localities that have been suffering because of the coronavirus, which happen to be in predominantly, you know, dense urban areas, which happen to be places that a lot of black and brown people live. So, I mean, what do you think should happen? And what do you think is going to happen?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Well, I’m not looking for Donald Trump to be Lyndon B. Johnson. I’m looking for Joe Biden to be Lyndon B. Johnson. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do think Donald Trump is going to make a play for the black vote African-American males in particular. I do think Donald Trump is going to put something on the table. I do think that we will see in the next few weeks something Donald Trump out here as saying that he has some type of economic justice plan for black America. Like, they’re getting — they’re getting desperate. So it’s going to be a lot of last-ditch efforts, Hail Marys thrown, right? But what I’m trying to say when I talk about Joe Biden is like, yo, that’s why I need him to step up for the black community in a real, real way. Like, he needs to step up in a real way, and put some things on the table. And I’m happy. I heard him this morning. He was pushing Hakeem Jeffries’ bill about banning choke holds. And he was talking about Reverend Barber. So, I’m like, yes, listen to black people, fool. It doesn’t matter who we vote in, if that person is not willing to dismantle this system of white supremacy. Lyndon B. Johnson was willing to go in there and, through legislation and policy, chip away at that brick called white supremacy that exists in this country. So we need Joe Biden to do the same thing.

MARTIN: You previously — after Ahmaud Arbery was killed — I mean, he was killed months ago, but the video surfaced of the circumstances in which he was killed. And after that, you said that black people should consider arming themselves. Is that really good advice right now, given the fact that people — there are a lot of arms in the street right now? Is that really good advice?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: It’s not good advice. It’s great advice.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Right? Like, I’m not telling — I’m not telling them something that they should consider. I’m telling them something that they should absolutely, positively do. Every black person in America needs to own a legal firearm. They need to be at the gun range learning how to use it. They need to be trained on how to use that firearm, not just against white supremacists, against just the world. Like, yo, we in a society where 40 million people are unemployed. I read a story the other day. I think it was Joe Jackson’s granddaughter or something got stabbed by some racist. And I’m like, yo, you should — she have had a pistol on her. Absolutely, in this crazy (EXPLETIVE DELETED) anarchic — time of anarchy, yes.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: That’s what the Second…

MARTIN: Do you? Are you — do you have a gun?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: A hundred percent.

MARTIN: A hundred percent? More than one?


MARTIN: Everybody in your house know how to use it?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: No, not the kids.

MARTIN: I’m just saying, you got three little kids.



MARTIN: Presumably, you — And you are aware of the statistics right, that the more guns you have around, the more likely somebody is to use it, right, and especially — so you’re fine with that? You feel comfortable that…


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes. That’s why you put your guns away. That’s why you — that’s why you put your guns in a safe. That’s why you — you can keep — the same way you can keep things from children, you can keep things from your kid. It’s not like my…

MARTIN: I understand what you’re saying.


MARTIN: But the reason that Martin Luther King said that he was against arming is that it creates an arms race, and his — frankly, he said that black people are always going to be outgunned.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: So? Listen, the Constitution says — the Second Amendment said we have the right to bear arms. Either we’re going to act like Americans, or we’re not, simple as that. So, if you’re telling me that a black person shouldn’t have a gun because they’re going to be outnumbered, then you’re just basically reinforcing to me something that I’m sure a lot of us already know and feel. The Constitution isn’t for us.

MARTIN: You have made a lot of noise with some recent guests. But, in fact, actually, just speaking about it throughout — for people who are not as familiar with your show, throughout this election year, you have had some very attention-getting guests. A lot of people have called it like a must-stop on the campaign trail, particularly, it has to be said, for Democrats. You made news just recently whether you had the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, on your show. From your vantage point, how do you describe the conversation and what do you think it means?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Well, I think it was a missed moment for Joe Biden. I think if Joe Biden doesn’t take the black community for granted, all facets of the black community, then he needs to act like it. You know what I’m saying? Like, when you come to platforms like “The Breakfast Club,” treat us with the same respect that you treat Anderson Cooper, or you treat the women on “The View.” I just sometimes see him in interviews with certain people, especially certain black people, and it just seems like his demeanor is a little bit more aggressive. It’s a little bit more I don’t like being questioned by kind of the vibe. You know what I mean? But maybe he’s like that with — I don’t know. That’s just the feeling I get. When I watch him with me and watch him with somebody like Stephen Colbert, it is like night and day.

MARTIN: He has apologized subsequently for his comments, saying that he was being too flippant and he shouldn’t have done that. So, now that it’s — you have had a chance to think about it a little bit, what do you think now?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: He said he was being a little too cavalier. And that’s the problem. That’s the problem with Democrats when it comes to black voters. They’re always a little too cavalier with us. You know what I mean? They’re always a little too jokey-jokey with us, because they take our votes for granted. I really feel like that. And I think that he knows he has to talk to a certain demographic of black people a certain way. You know what I mean? But don’t kiss O.G. Jim Clyburn’s (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and cozy up with Jim Clyburn, even though I love Jim Clyburn, but then come on…

MARTIN: You’re from South Carolina. You’re from South Carolina, South Carolina, born and raised.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: From South Carolina, that’s right. Nothing but respect for Jim Clyburn. But you can’t kiss up to the O.G. because you know that you need him to endorse you, and he can rally people behind you, and then come on my show and yell and scream, and be the get off my lawn guy, display that white arrogance that we all hate, because, whether Joe Biden realizes it or not, he’s going to need various black demos to win this election in November, not just the older ones. So the same way that O.G. Jim Clyburn can rally people behind him, I can rally people behind him too. But my approach to it is different, because I truly believe that vote is a quid pro quo.

MARTIN: What about the substance of what he said is offensive, as it was, which is that there really is no choice?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: That’s not the attitude that Democrats should have, because that’s the same attitude that caused Hillary Clinton to lose. You know what I mean? If you look at the black vote from 2012 to 2016, it dropped off significantly, you know what I’m saying, in key swing states. And I think the reason for that is, Democrats haven’t really offered black people anything, other than the lesser of two evils. That’s what they always like to say. Oh, you got to choose between the lesser of two evils. And it’s just like, I think black people are just tired of voting out of fear, because they have been catching hell. You know what I’m saying? We have been catching hell in this country. Nothing has changed. Like, police brutality was police brutality under every single president since I have been alive. I have been alive long enough to see — I have seen the Rodney King tape. You know what I mean? And I have been alive long enough to see Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Walter Scott and Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland. Like, these things have happened over and over and over and over again in the black community. So, if you don’t have somebody that’s trying to dismantle the mechanism of white supremacy through policy and legislation and reparations, then good luck trying to try to get the black vote, because I really don’t think that people are going to vote out of fear, like they used to, no matter how scary it looks on the other side. And people always say it’s not a choice. It is a choice. That other choice should scare them the most. That’s not voting at all.

MARTIN: So, in part, is it your goal to tell people like Biden and others similarly situated what they need to do…


MARTIN: … in order to be credible? Is that in part what you feel you’re here for?


MARTIN: And also to let — and also to express that which you understand to be the view of the people who listen to you?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Absolutely. You know what I’m saying? Well, when I hear Joe Biden say the soul of the country is at stake, well, who got all the souls in this country? Black people. You know what I’m saying?


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Who are the souls of this country? Black people. We built this country for free. So, if Biden wants this election, he needs to get his soul right and do right by black people. I was reading an article in I think it was NBC News about how Trump is gambling on splitting Biden’s base with his rhetoric about the riots, because he knows that the two groups Joe Biden most needs to win the presidency is black and moderate white voters. So Trump is trying to divide them. So, like I said, there was a clear drop- off of black voter turnout between 2012 and 2016 in these key swing states. So if you’re not — if Joe Biden is not offering something to the black community, a community that’s historically suffered in this country, if he’s not offering some tangibles in regards to legislation and reparations, I don’t know what he’s going to do. I really don’t. Like, we are not telling him these things for no reason. We’re not telling him that he needs a black woman running mate, we not saying that because of identity politics. We’re saying that because of the numbers. The math says that. You already committed to having a black woman on the Supreme Court. That’s great. But now we really need you to do right by black people. And even now — once again, if you look at Joe Biden, he needs to really lean into blackness to win. He has the opportunity to literally be as progressive as Lyndon B. Johnson. And some say Lyndon B. Johnson was a notorious racist, right? But his record doesn’t reflect that. You know? Joe’s record in the Senate actually reflects very racist legislation. So, he has a chance to correct that by doing right by black folks. So I hope he’s listening and he does it.

MARTIN: So, you have had — you have shared your advice for Joe Biden.


MARTIN: Do you have any advice for President Trump?


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: No, I don’t. You know what I’m saying? I really honestly don’t have any advice for President Trump, because I think President Trump’s been — President Trump — there’s only one other person on this planet who has exceeded expectations in my lifetime like President Trump has, and that’s LeBron James. LeBron James exceeded expectations, because, coming out of high school, he was like — like, he was on the cover of “Sports Illustrated” in high school. He was — his games came on ESPN. Like, he was the heir apparent to Jordan. And for all intents and purposes, he has exceeded expectations. That’s hard to do. Right? It’s always hard to do. Donald Trump is as bad as everybody said he was going to be. Worse. Everything. Like, literally everything they said Donald Trump was going to be, he is absolutely — it’s kind of — you got to laugh to keep from crying, but it is just like think about it. They were comparing him to Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini. And they said that he was going to bring martial law back, and he was just — he’s literally exceeded expectations when it comes to being a terrible president and human being. It’s actually — it’s actually kind of impressive to see somebody be as bad as everybody said that they said he would be, actually worse. So, no, I don’t — I can’t even — I wouldn’t waste my time telling Donald Trump to pray. I wouldn’t even waste my time doing that, because I wouldn’t want God to throw his prayers in the spam folder.

MARTIN: You are not shy about telling people what is their work. What is their work in the next couple of days, weeks, months? What do you think?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I think our work is to tell people what’s next. You know, black people needed to know what’s insured to them under the Constitution. I would say that black people have to really start focusing on our economic power as much as possible, so we can really start impacting these political campaigns, so the government and the police can’t deny us our rights as citizens. We need to start our own political party, I think, and run our own candidates. That’s not going to happen this year. We could start our own political party this year, and really figure out where these votes are going to go. But we can really put people in positions of power who actually there for our benefit, put people in positions — put people in these positions who want to dismantle white supremacy, not enforce it. So, I think, honestly, our biggest job over the next week or a couple of weeks is to really, really, really, really, really get in Joe Biden’s ear and really, really lean on Joe Biden and tell Joe Biden, man, you need to really lean into blackness, because you do not have this locked up in November at all. And I think we need to really keep screaming at people, there’s no — ain’t no good going to come to you until you do right by black people. And that goes for all of America, because, if you — I’m telling you, it is not a coincidence that coronavirus impacted the black community the way that it did. It is not a coincidence that people are out in the streets right now protesting against the killing of another black man. It is not a coincidence that Joe Biden needs black people to win this election. It is not a coincidence that black people helped Joe Biden win the primary. All signs are pointing back to blackness. And until America atones for its original sin, which is slavery, ain’t no good going to come to America. It is not a secret that all of these conversations are happening. America needs to do right by black people through policy, legislation and reparations. That’s it.

MARTIN: Charlamagne tha God, thank you so much for talking with us today.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I appreciate you. Thank you. Have a blessed day, a blessed day.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane speaks with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn about current events and with Trump 2020 Director of Strategic Communications Marc Lotter about the president’s strategy moving forward. She also speaks with former President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives Cedric L. Alexander about police reform. Michel Martin speaks with radio host Charlamagne tha God.