President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the on-going conflict at the Ukraine/Russia border, Tuesday, February 15, 2022, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. Credit: Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith

In his last State of the Union address in 2022, President Biden gave most of his time to the war in Ukraine; in the latest iteration, Russia and Ukraine had to take a back seat because his focus was on finishing up a lot of tasks and jobs at home.

Other than recognizing Ukraine’s ambassador in the House Chamber, Biden only cited the war-torn country in the context of inflation, and how President Putin’s attacks have disrupted food and energy supply chains. But as Biden noted, the brutal war there continues and shows no signs of abating.

Black Americans must have been touched by Biden’s putting Tyre Nichols’s death into a race perspective, noting how Black and brown parents have to deal with the prospect of their children not coming home at night and the increasing prevalence of police indifference to their safety.

Of particular resonance were the words, “But imagine, imagine if you lost that child at the hands of the law. Imagine having to worry whether your son or daughter came home from walking down the street, playing in the park, or just driving a car.

“Most of us here have never had to have the talk…that brown and Black parents have had to have with their children. Beau, Hunter, Ashley—my children—I never had to have the talk with them. I never had to tell them if a police officer pulls you over, turn your interior lights on right away. Don’t reach for your license. Keep your hands on the steering wheel. Imagine having to worry like that every single time your kid got in a car.”

It was a heartfelt commentary on the terrible prospect of losing a child to an agency assigned to protect them and ensure their safety.

His call for police reform and the passing of the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, which has been stalled in the Senate, was applauded, at least by the Democrats, and even a few Republicans.

Several of the things the president said he would like to finish—police reform, banning assault weapons, and reversing the damage to Roe v. Wade—are a triumvirate of difficulty, but just to get them mentioned in a House divided is a momentous step. 

Now, Mr. President, keep your foot on the pedal.

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