Former Vice President and presidential hopeful Joe Biden said over the weekend that he could see why people misconstrued his use of the word “boy” as offensive, but maintained that his intention was not at all to offend anyone with it.
Biden, who made the comment during a recent fundraiser in New York City, said that he understood “the consequence of the word ‘boy’,” but that he did not use it in an offensive context.
During Tuesday’s fundraises, the former vice president was speaking about working with segregationists in the Senate in the 1970s and 1980s when he said that James O. Eastland, with whom he was in a caucus and who was known as a racist, had never referred to him as “boy.”
In the interview with MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, Biden explained that Eastland and other senior senators dismissed younger members of the chamber by using the term “boy.”
“He said I’m not even qualified to be in the Senate. I’m not old enough. I’m a kid. I’m a kid,” Biden recalled Eastland’s remarks made to him at the time Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972, at the age of 29. He also noted that these senators often called him “son.”
According to CNN, the former vice president sought to point out that the word “boy” was in no case used in a derogatory context aimed at black men. “To the extent that anybody thought that I meant something different, that is not what I intended it. It’d be wrong for anybody to intend that,” said Biden.
Senator Cory Booker told ABC on Sunday that Biden’s explanation was in vain and that he was insensitive in “invoking this idea that he was called ‘son’ by white segregationists who, yeah, they see in him their son.”
Shortly before that, Booker urged Biden to apologize, saying that Biden’s comments resonated with him on a personal level. “These are the kind of things that do cause hurt and harm,” he stressed.