In a recent reference to baseball legend Satchel Page, President Joe Biden appeared to violate a law signed into effect when he was serving as vice president to former President Barack Obama.
Referring to the Negro Leagues in which Page initially played, Biden drew criticism from those who felt his use of the term was inappropriate.
“How do you feel about being 47?”
The president’s remark came on Thursday during a Veterans Day event at Arlington National Cemetery.
“I just want to tell you, I know you’re a little younger than I am, but I’ve adopted the attitude of the great Negro — at the time, pitcher in the Negro Leagues, went on to become a great pitcher in the pros, Major League Baseball, after Jackie Robinson,” Biden said. “His name was Satchel Page.”
Professional baseball was desegregated around the middle of the 20th century, allowing Black players like Page to make the transition to the MLB.
“And Satchel Paige, on his 47th birthday, pitched a win against Chicago,” Biden continued. “And all the press went in and said, ‘Satch, it’s amazing. 47 years old. No one’s ever, ever pitched a win at age 47. How do you feel about being 47?'”
In response, Biden recalled, Page told the reporters: “I look at it this way: How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
A history of inappropriate comments
While telling the story, however, the president seems to have forgotten that his former boss signed a bill into law in 2016 that prohibited the federal government from using the word “negro,” among others.
Instead, H.R. 4238 mandated that the term “African American” be used.
Of course, this was not the first time the president has been in hot water over remarks later deemed racially insensitive, if not offensive.
One particularly glaring example came during the presidential campaign. In May 2020, he made a bold claim about voters during an interview, declaring: “Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”
Although he received some backlash from critics on social media, it is unlikely that he will face much criticism from the mainstream media. He is a Democrat, after all.