U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate with 40 world leaders in the East Room of the White House April 22, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Harris responds to Tim Scott: US is not racist, but racism cannot be ignored
01:44 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday agreed with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott that the United States as a nation is not racist, but added that the country has a history of racism that cannot be overlooked.

Biden, pressed on if he thought America was racist, told NBC News in an interview Thursday, “No, I don’t think the American people are racist, but I think after 400 years, African Americans have been left in a position where they are so behind the eight ball, in terms of education, health, in terms of opportunity.”

“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,” Biden added.

During a Thursday morning appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Harris was also asked to react to comments from Scott – made during the Republican response to Biden’s joint address to Congress – that the US is not a racist country. Scott waded into an array of hot-button policy debates and issues during his speech, including infrastructure, voting rights, policing reform and racism and discrimination, saying at one point that “America is not a racist country.”

“No. 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,” Harris said. “I applaud the President for always having the ability and the courage, frankly, to speak the truth about it.”

Harris noted that domestic terrorism manifested by White supremacists is “one of the greatest threats to our national security.”

She continued, “These are issues that we must confront and it doesn’t – it does not help to heal our country, to unify us as a people, to ignore the realities of that and I think the President has been outstanding and a real national leader on the issue … We want to unify the country, but not without speaking truth and requiring accountability as appropriate.”