How the Biden administration can advance racial equity
This is a pivotal moment for racial justice in America. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession have exposed and exacerbated deep-rooted structural racial inequalities in the country’s public health and economic systems and in American society. The gruesome murder of George Floyd and the relentless and unbearable loss of black and disabled lives at the hands of the police officers who have sworn to protect them have sparked some of the largest and most multiracial protests for systemic criminal justice reform in the world. modern history. The increased media attention to hate crimes against the peoples of East Asia has helped to make the prejudices faced by communities in Asia and the Pacific Islands more visible. The barrage of racialized state laws seeking to suppress voting has fueled a new movement to eradicate rooted racial discrimination in voting and expand voter access for all. As families, businesses and communities strive to recover from the converging crises of recent years, there is an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild the economy, healthcare systems, and basic democratic institutions of the United States to that they be stronger and more equitable for all.
Heeding appeals from the Center for American Progress and others, the Biden administration is focusing racial equity in its recovery efforts. Administration’s historic Executive Order (EO) calling for a bold “whole-of-government equity agenda” presents tremendous opportunity to meet the long-standing challenge of racial injustice and build a better America where everyone has an equal chance to prosper. The CAP has developed a comprehensive set of policies that should be viewed as a menu of options for heads of federal departments to consider when fulfilling their mandate under the OE to conduct reviews of policies to examine barriers to racial equity and to determine whether “new policies, regulations or guidelines” are needed to promote racial equality.
A more comprehensive discussion of the policies suggested by CAP is available in CAP’s response to the administration’s request for information and to stakeholder recommendations to help agency heads conduct their internal equity assessments and develop the equity action plans of their agencies. Adopting the policies contained in this column would help close the racial wealth gap; build a stronger and more equitable economy for all; improve public health; guarantee a more equitable and sustainable climate; reform the justice system; and build a stronger and more inclusive democracy.
Closing the racial wealth gap and building a more equitable economy for all
Eliminating the blatant and persistent racial wealth gap is essential to fulfilling the long-awaited promise of equal opportunity for all Americans. Building wealth makes the American dream of buying a house, starting a business, going to college or schooling a child a reality. It also provides stability for individuals and families and enables them to overcome hardships and emergencies, such as illnesses, job losses, unforeseen expenses and economic downturns.
The United States’ large and persistent wealth gap between Blacks, Aboriginals and Other People of Color (BIPOC) and White Americans stems from centuries of government policies that have systematically disadvantaged the ability of Americans in BIPOC to create, maintain and transmit wealth. Native American households hold only 8 cents of wealth for every dollar the average white family has. Likewise, black families have 12 cents of wealth for every dollar of white wealth, and the gap between Hispanic and white families hovers around 21 cents to the dollar. This means that the average wealth for black households was $ 24,100 in 2019 dollars, compared to $ 189,100 for white households. The racial wealth gap was forged from the brutal displacement of Indigenous peoples from their lands and the savage exploitation of African Americans during nearly 250 years of slavery. It spread during Jim Crow’s segregation and through government policies excluding Americans from BIPOC or creating or maintaining barriers that prevented them from accessing many essential programs that promoted economic opportunity and increased wealth for Americans. White Americans. At the same time, BIPOC’s chronic divestment in schools, businesses, homeownership and communities, coupled with the frequent construction of federal highways in the heart of black neighborhoods, has further cut BIPOC families off. economic opportunities. The racial wealth gap persists today through institutionalized racism and manifests itself in disparate access and outcomes in virtually every aspect of life – from education, employment, housing and health care financial markets, civil and criminal justice and democratic participation, among others. .
The racial wealth gap is a cyclical problem as the unequal distribution of wealth hinders the advancement of BIPOC Americans in other aspects of life, and the corresponding lack of equitable educational outcomes, employment, housing and others further prevent BIPOC families from accumulating wealth. . It is also an intergenerational problem because the deprivation of wealth comes at the expense of future generations of BIPOC Americans in the same way that interest is compounded for the benefit of richer white Americans.
The Biden administration has taken a series of crucial steps to narrow the racial wealth gap. To address discrimination in the U.S. housing market, the administration issued a memorandum directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to work with communities to end housing discrimination and ensure access equal to housing possibilities for all. The administration has also created a one-of-a-kind interagency effort to address inequities in home ratings. HUD then proposed new rules to tackle discriminatory housing practices and support the positive promotion of fair housing. In addition, the US Jobs Plan contains significant budgetary investments to promote fair and equitable housing opportunities and end homelessness, including critical commitments to reduce the racial gap in homeownership; address residential segregation caused by federal highway construction; eradicate exclusionary zoning policies; and develop affordable housing.
Federal agencies should take additional key actions to expand inclusive communities and improve safe, stable, accessible and affordable housing, including:
- HUD should issue guidelines on how localities should collect, manage and maintain data showing their efforts to actively address housing discrimination in their communities and help reinvigorate the mandate of positively promoting fair housing.
- The HUD should also require state and local governments receiving grants from the HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) program to distribute some of their investments to community land trusts and should extend the accessibility periods for development programs. keys such as HOME and others.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to develop strong regulatory protections around land payment contracts, which are alternatives to the traditional mortgages disproportionately used by black Americans to secure housing.
- The administration should create a unique interagency task force to address racial inequalities in evictions.
- Finally, to ensure that every community has access to affordable financial services, relevant federal agencies should create a postal banking system, expand community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and community development corporations (CDCs), and restore “myRA” savings plan for Americans who do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan.
On the employment front, the Biden administration can build on its commitments to support disadvantaged small businesses by strengthening the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) within the US Department of Commerce. A revamped MBDA could develop an economic equity grant program to fund municipal projects that stimulate wealth creation in minority communities; create a research and evaluation office and an advocacy and intergovernmental affairs office; and launch a minority business investment company program modeled on the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program.
In addition, addressing the long-standing discriminatory and discriminatory implementation of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in agriculture and farm workers is essential to address the vast inequalities experienced by farmers. black. The US bailout has allocated over $ 1 billion for a variety of purposes, including “an equity commission that will identify and propose solutions to address and eliminate long-standing discrimination and barriers faced by staff, customers , USDA programs and services are facing ”. In keeping with this equity mandate, USDA should provide resources to black farmers who lack legal title and living wills to help preserve the scarce black-owned farmland that remains; create an online database of civil rights complaints that can be monitored by executive and legislative authorities