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"America is not a racist country," the junior senator from South Carolina said, adding that he is an African American who has voted in the South his whole life. "It’s wrong to try to use our painful past to try to dishonestly shut down debates in the present."
In an excerpt from an exclusive interview with TODAY's Craig Melvin that appeared on NBC Nightly News Thursday, Biden was asked if America is a racist country.
"No, I don't think the American people are racist," Biden said. "But I think after 400 years African Americans have been left in a position where they're so far behind the eight ball in terms of education, health, in terms of opportunity."
Biden has frequently employed the term systemic racism, which is used to describe when cultural institutions and systems reflect individual racism.
"I don't think America's racist, but I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow (laws), and before that slavery, have had a cost, and we have to deal with it," Biden told Craig.
During the interview, Biden also touched on the FBI executing search warrants Wednesday at the apartment and office of Rudy Giuliani as part of the investigation into the attorney for former President Donald Trump. He said he had no advance notice of the FBI's actions, saying he "had no idea this was underway."
Scott Stump is a New Jersey-based freelancer who has been a regular contributor for TODAY.com since 2011, producing news stories and features across the trending, pop culture, sports, parents, pets, health, style, food and TMRW verticals. He has tackled every assignment from interviewing astronauts on the International Space Station to prison inmates training service dogs for military veterans.