White supremacy, racism, white nationalism and Charlottesville should absolutely be discussed as part of every candidate’s 2020 presidential campaign agenda, but the campaign launch video that was put out by Joe Biden was mostly hollow, disingenuous, disconnected and disrespectful.

This video exploits the trauma of our neighbors, friends and family — and does so without any personal connection, permission or investment. It was completely void of any policy plans to address white supremacy; and if Mr. Biden really thinks we’re in a “battle for the soul of our nation” and that racism or white nationalism is truly a “threat to this nation was unlike any [he has] ever seen,” then where has he been for the past 20 months? Not just his physical body, but his voice, his power, his platform?

I submit that this video was not produced with malice, but it was produced in ignorance and isolation — and that’s what makes it harmful. This video hurt people in our community. It took advantage of their trauma, their pain, and their fear — and offers almost nothing in return.

Just listen to Mr. Biden’s words again. Does he offer to help remove the idols of white supremacy? Does he plan to donate to the Heal Charlottesville Fund that many of the car attack victims still rely on — or even the Charlottesville Community Resilience Fund that is used for community stabilization assistance such as rent, utility bills, transportation and medical costs? Does he even know that many of those victims are still undergoing surgeries and are struggling to provide for their families? What are his plans to support these “brave and courageous” Americans — and the many other people of color and their allies who “battle” white supremacy on a daily basis?

There are over 20 highly qualified potential presidential candidates — and I imagine almost all of them will make their way through our city. I would encourage all of us to hold these candidates to a higher standard. I know that any standard is better than what we’re currently getting, but the bar still doesn’t need to be set so low.

Phil Woodson, Charlottesville

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