Sen. Tim Scott was met with some criticism on Wednesday (April 28) after claiming that “America is not a racist country.” Scott, who is the only Black Republican senator, made the comments during his rebuttal speech to President Joe Biden’s first joint address to Congress, which took place last night.
Marking his first 100 days in office, Biden’s address reflected on the pandemic, the economy and political division that he said was left behind by the Trump administration. Biden spoke at length about the threats of white supremacy and racism and called on Americans to “root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system.”
The president also recalled the words of George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, who told him, “My daddy changed the world” before her father’s funeral last year.
“After the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, we can see how right she was… if we have the courage to act,” Biden said. “We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America. Now is our opportunity to make some real progress.”
In his own speech, Scott countered Biden’s claims.
“Hear me clearly,” he said. “America is not a racist country.”
In the past, Scott has discussed his own experiences of being racially profiled and disrespected by police officers. On Wednesday, he said, “I have experienced the pain of discrimination. I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason and to be followed around a store while I’m shopping.”
However, he largely focused on crediting the Republican Party with uniting, rather than dividing, Americans and said conservatives have supported criminal justice reform policies.
“Just before COVID, we had the most inclusive economy in my lifetime. The lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for African Americans, Hispanics and Asians, and a 70 year low nearly for women,” he said. “Wages were growing faster for the bottom 25 percent than the top 25 percent. That happened because Republicans focused on expanding opportunity for all Americans.”
While some were angered by Scott’s remarks about the presence of racism in the country, Vice President Kamala Harris agreed with him. During a Thursday (April 29) appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Harris said, “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.”
“I applaud the president for always having the ability and the courage, frankly, to speak the truth about it,” she added.