NBC anchor and presidential debate moderator Kristen Welker poised a question during Thursday night’s debate between President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSouth Africa health minister calls travel bans over new COVID variant 'unjustified' Biden attends tree lighting ceremony after day out in Nantucket Senior US diplomat visiting Southeast Asia to 'reaffirm' relations MORE about “the talk,” underscoring the heightened tensions that have been felt between Black Americans and law enforcement all summer.
“The talk,” as it’s colloquially referred to, is the conversation that many Black Americans have with their children regarding dealing with law enforcement — explaining the discrimination and mistreatment that can occur during police encounters.
Police brutality and the systemic racism that runs parallel to it have been at the forefront of the country’s attention the past seven months following the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, both of whom were Black.
Welker, the only person of color to moderate a presidential debate this election cycle, posed the question to both Trump and Biden.
“The fact of the matter is, there is institutional racism in America,” Biden responded, saying that “the talk” is a conversation that Black parents have with their children regardless of their socioeconomic status.
"We have to provide … economic opportunity, better education, better health care, better access to schooling, better access to opportunity to borrow money to start businesses,” Biden continued. “It's about accumulating the ability to have wealth, as well as it is to be free from violence.”
When asked if he understood the gravity of “the talk” that Black parents are too often forced to have with their children, Trump simply answered, “Yes, I do,” before pivoting and attacking Biden on his hand in the creation of the 1994 crime bill, which continued the disproportionate incarceration of Black Americans.
“Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump,” Trump claimed, acknowledging that former President Lincoln — who dissolved the institution of slavery — might have done more for Black Americans.
“I’m the least racist person in this room,” Trump said minutes later.
The president also brought up his talking points on the subject, including his prison reform bill, expanded funding for historically Black colleges and universities and his economic “opportunity zones.”
Biden, in return, brought up the incendiary remarks that Trump has made about race, including his rhetoric surrounding Black Lives Matter protesters and immigrants who cross over the U.S.’s southern border illegally.
“This guy is a [racist] dog whistle about as big as a foghorn,” Biden remarked.
Republican presidential candidates have historically struggled in courting Black voters, though Trump in 2016 did better than most, sporting double-digit support from Black men.
That said, Biden has had a massive lead over Trump with the crucial voting bloc the entire election cycle. In a New York Times-Siena College poll this week, 90 percent of Black respondents said that they were or had already voted for Biden, while just four percent said the same for Trump.