Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican in the Senate, said last week that "America is not a racist country" in response to President Joe Biden's address to a joint session of Congress.
Scott received criticism for his statement, but Vice President Kamala Harris responded similarly on Thursday, saying that America is not a "racist country" but must "speak the truth" about its history of racism. Biden then responded on Friday, saying, "I don't think America is racist, but I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow and before that, slavery, have had a cost, and we have to deal with it."
The Rev. Irene Monroe and the Rev. Emmett G. Price III spoke to Boston Public Radio on Monday about these statements and their thoughts on racism in this country.
"America needs to have the courage to move into a space where America declares that it is anti-racist," Price said. "Calling someboday racist is not necessarily beneficial, but I will say that America has to have the courage to become anti-racist."
While Price "absolutely disagrees" with Scott's statement, he doesn't think that the senator should be disparaged and disrespected for his opinion.
Monroe was disappointed by Scott's words, but so too by Harris' response.
"Saying that America is not racist is absurd," she said. "What bothered me is when our VP said, 'No, America is not racist,' because it's catering to white fragility."
Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist, the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail and a visiting researcher in the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program at Boston University School of Theology. Price is a professor of worship, church and culture and the founding executive director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Together they host the All Rev’d Up podcast, produced by GBH.