Diddy, Chris Paul, 100 Other Black Men Decry Double Standard for Black Women VPs

Sports and entertainment figures such as Chris Paul and Sean "Diddy" Combs, along with more than 100 other black male leaders, expressed disgust Monday at the way black women have been "unfairly criticized and scrutinized" during Joe Biden's vetting process for his November running mate.

The open letter from high-profile black men comes after a controversial report that Senator Kamala Harris of California was seen as "too ambitious" by a member of Biden's vetting team. Newsweek reviewed an advance copy of the letter.

"Was Joe Biden ever labeled "too ambitious" because he ran for president three times?" they asked in the letter. "Should President Obama not have made him the VP because he had to worry about his "loyalty" when he clearly had AMBITIONS to be president himself? Why does Senator Kamala Harris have to show remorse for questioning Biden's previous stance on integrated busing during a Democratic primary debate?"

The signers, who include well-known radio personality Lenard "Charlamagne Tha God" Mckelvey, Bishop William J. Barber, CNN commentator Van Jones, and actors such as Omar Epps and comedian Jerry "JB Smoove" Brooks, said because of the fracas, the urgency for a black woman VP has gone from something that "should" happen to something that "has to happen." They said the letter from the dozens of black men comes in "solidarity" after a similar letter by 700 black women.

The signers pointed out discrepancies between demands placed on Biden and the women he is vetting, questioning why Biden was never required to show remorse by donors and party leaders "for the 1986 or 1988 Anti Drug Abuse bills," which established mandatory minimum sentencing and subsequently crack-cocaine sentencing disparities, "leading to mass incarceration" as well as the 1994 Crime Bill?

"So, Black women are the only ones required to stay in their place and to show remorse for even questioning their own oppression?" the letter said.

"Failing to select a Black woman in 2020 means you will lose the election. We don't want to choose between the lesser of two evils and we don't want to vote for the devil we know versus the devil we don't because we are tired of voting for devils—period."

The Biden campaign has said it is vetting multiple black women for the role of vice presidential nominee.

Harris appeared to address the controversy during a livestream for the Black Girls Lead 2020 conference last week. "There will be a resistance to your ambition, there will be people who say to you, 'you are out of your lane,'" she said. "They are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don't you let that burden you."

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U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a news conference following the Democrats' weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol June 23, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty