President Joe Biden took aim on Sunday at the “ugly poisons” of “systemic racism and white supremacy” that he said had long plagued the United States, and vowed to change the laws that enabled continued discrimination.
In blunt language, the Democratic president said the country faced problems with racism, xenophobia and nativism.
Biden’s statement followed similar sentiments from Vice President Kamala Harris, who detailed in Atlanta on Friday the U.S history of discrimination against Asian Americans.
“Racism is real in America and it has always been,” said Harris, the country’s first Asian-American, first Black and first female vice president. “Xenophobia is real in America and always has been. Sexism too.” she said.
Biden’ statement, issued on Sunday night, marks the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, created in the 1970s to mark a 1960 massacre in South Africa.
“Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It should have no safe harbor anywhere in the world. We must join together to make it stop,” Biden said in the statement.
He said his administration would speak out against racial discrimination around the world, including the “horrific” mistreatment of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar and the Uighurs in China.
“One of the core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans is standing against hate and racism, even as we acknowledge that systemic racism and white supremacy are ugly poisons that have long plagued the United States,” he said. “We must change the laws that enable discrimination in our country, and we must change our hearts.”
Biden’s statement came amid mounting pressure on law enforcement authorities to treat last week’s deadly shooting in Atlanta of eight people – including six women of Asian descent – as a hate crime.