should the Biden-Harris
agenda for Black America be for the first 100 days?
victory of President-elect Joe
over incumbent President
- thanks in no small measure to the efforts of Black people who quite
literally voted for their lives - means America has a fighting chance
to become a real democracy where Black people are treated like human
beings with full citizenship.
will have a lot on his plate when he steps into the White House, and
the needs of Black people must be on his agenda. While there is much
to be done, these are highlights of what an agenda for Black America
should look like in a Biden White House:
U.S. is still mired in a crippling pandemic made worse through
Trump’s callousness, negligence and incompetence. This plague
continues to ravage the nation, and African Americans are among the
hardest hit in terms of health complications, deaths and the related
socioeconomic consequences of the coronavirus.
of Black-owned businesses
have gone under, and more are expected to shutter. And Black folks
are disproportionately suffering from unemployment, poverty and
the Republican Senate believed a new Supreme
Court justice was more important than saving lives,
America needs COVID-19 relief now, and Black America needs it
yesterday. Amid massive joblessness and deprivation, the Biden
administration should enact what other
countries have implemented
to curb the pandemic, which is some variation of a universal
including monthly direct payments to people. And given the ways in
which college loans prey on Black people, now
is a perfect time to erase student debt.
said he supports a bill to study reparations
to Black people for slavery. Legislation would establish a commission
to study the impact of slavery and discrimination from 1619 until the
present, and develop proposals for reparations to the descendants of
the enslaved. The Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, the largest
social justice movement in U.S. history, cry out for action on this
nation’s original sins of slavery and genocide. Confronting the
crimes that built America means repairing 400 years-worth of damage,
making amends and making Black people whole through policies,
programs and payments.
is the time to rein in law enforcement agencies and departments
across the country for their abuses, brutality and racial violence.
The federal government can use the purse strings to set standards on
how police departments conduct business and employ the use of force,
ban military equipment for the police and so-called nonlethal weapons
such as teargas and rubber bullets.
such as the Movement
for Black Lives,
Force on 21st Century Policing
and others have already mapped out proposals such as the BREATHE
which would divest tax revenue from racist policing, reimagine public
safety and invest in communities. Further, the Biden Justice
Department must get back into the business of holding police
accountable through consent
that force change, and use the law to punish bad cops and root out
white supremacists in law enforcement. The days of the slave patrols
Supreme Court declawed the Voting Rights Act,
Black people once again have become second-class citizens under Jim
Crow 2.0. The Republican Party has relied on voter suppression and
intimidation, voter purges and gerrymandering as their weapons of
choice to disenfranchise Black voters. Biden must sign the John
R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,
which passed Congress and stalled in the Senate.
legislation would restore
the Voting Rights Act,
reinstate federal oversight of state election laws and dismantle
barriers for voters to access the ballot. A fight for racial justice
in our elections also means eliminating
corruption and unlimited money in politics,
in which a relatively small group of white men have paid for the
policies that continue to oppress the poor and people of color.
and the Democrats must also seek reform of the undemocratic Electoral
and U.S. Senate, institutions created to support slaveholding states
and distort their power. Other statehood for the District of Columbia
and the Caribbean
and Pacific islands
that are U.S. territories, yet whose 4
million American citizens
cannot vote in federal elections.
judicial system cannot provide equal justice when it does not reflect
the diversity of the nation, and it becomes the captive of a narrow
ideology of white Christian nationalists. With the confirmation of
Amy Coney Barrett,
the Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority.
its judicial selection process to a shady dark money operation known
as the Federalist
the Trump administration stacked the courts with extremist political
operatives, mostly young
often unqualified, and united in their opposition to civil rights and
Biden has any chance of making his policies stick, he requires a
and balanced federal court system,
with more seats on the Supreme Court and the lower courts to increase
diversity and inclusion, term limits, and a code of ethics for
Supreme Court justices. Everything should be on the table.
of color are disproportionately impacted by climate change. In an era
of environmental degradation brought on by climate change, and
economic depression resulting from years of inequality exacerbated by
a year of COVID-19, Biden must fight multiple pandemics at once.
wean America off fossil fuels, build a badly needed green
infrastructure, create millions of new jobs and repair the historic
environmental injustices visited upon indigenous people, the poor and
communities of color.
the Biden White House must find out where Trump buried all the
bodies. We may not know the full extent of his potential criminality
and corruption for years to come. From potential tax fraud, the
intentional mass deaths of Americans under COVID-19 - under the
assumption that people of color would suffer the most - to sabotaging
the post office, and from the forced sterilization of Black and Brown
migrant women by the kidnapping of children in ICE detention centers,
crimes and violations have most certainly been committed.
of disinfecting the White House for future use includes a
to get to the heart of what Trump did in our name.
voters need an agenda, and we must take that agenda to the soon-to-be
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. A Biden victory
does not mean Black America can afford to take a nap until the 2024
election. Democracy is not an armchair spectator sport, and the past
four years have taught us as much.
the old Teddy
song goes, “Wake up everybody, no more sleepin’ in bed.”
commentary was originally published by The Grio