In a new agenda for African American communities unveiled Monday, Joe Biden is calling for the Justice Department to prioritize prosecuting hate crimes, a $900 million initiative to fight gun violence, and better access to federal relief funds for African Americans struggling due to the coronavirus.
What campaign is saying: “This is something that has driven his entire campaign. He launched his campaign talking about some of the hate that we saw out in Charlottesville,” a senior campaign official told reporters on a call. “He’ll make clear that hate has no safe harbor.”
- “This mission is more important now than ever before, as the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 have shined a light on — and cruelly exacerbated — the disparities long faced by African Americans,” the campaign added in a press release.
Between the lines: The broad “Lift Every Voice” plan highlights Biden’s policies and proposals that would address racial disparities within the economy, education, health care, criminal justice, voting rights and environmental justice.
Key points: The plan highlights Biden’s proposal for a $900 million, eight-year grant program to fight gun violence in cities across the U.S.
- If elected, Biden would instruct his Justice Department, as well as civil rights offices in other federal agencies, to crack down on hate crimes, senior campaign officials said on the call.
- The plan calls for more funding for the Small Business Administration to allow the agency to better support African American-owned small businesses. It also calls for more federal contracting opportunities for African American owned businesses.
- Biden plans to invest $1 billion per year in juvenile justice reform. He also proposes tripling Title I funding, creating a new tax credit of up to $15,000 for families buying their first home, and making public colleges and universities tuition-free for students with family incomes below $125,000.
- The plan also would ensure “political appointees, including the president’s Cabinet, look like the country they serve and ensure that our federal workforce is representative of the demographics of our country,” a senior campaign official said.
The plan also would:
- Advance the economic mobility of African Americans and close the racial wealth and income gaps.
- Expand access to high-quality education and tackle racial inequity in our education system.
- Make far-reaching investments in ending health disparities by race.
- Make the right to vote and the right to equal protection real for African Americans.
- Address environmental justice.
“Joe Biden knows that African Americans can never have a fair shot at the American Dream so long as entrenched disparities are allowed to chip away at opportunity quietly,” his campaign’s statement noted.
“He is running for President to rebuild our economy in a way that finally brings everyone along – and that starts by rooting out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, our institutions, and our hearts.”
With the novel coronavirus hitting African Americans the hardest, Biden’s plan recognizes the disparities long faced by the Black community.
In April, he called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to collect more data regarding how COVID-19 is affecting communities, including breaking down its impacts by race.
“The data we’ve seen so far suggests that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than whites,” the campaign noted.
“Long-standing systemic inequalities are contributing to this disparity – including the fact that African Americans are more likely to be uninsured and to live in communities where they are exposed to high levels of air pollution.”
Biden’s campaign continued:
“African Americans also represent an especially high percentage of the front-line workers putting themselves at greater risk to sustain the economy and keep the rest of the country safe and fed – and are less likely to have a job they can do from home, forcing them to make the difficult choice between their health and a paycheck.
“While there’s a lot we don’t yet know about COVID-19, we do know that equitable distribution of resources, like testing and medical equipment, can make a difference in fighting the virus. Biden believes this should be a priority, and action must be taken now.”
Other highlights of the plan include rolling back Trump Administration policies that gutted fair lending and fair housing protections for homeowners and giving local elected officials the tools and resources they need to combat gentrification.
Biden said he plans to hold financial institutions accountable for discriminatory practices in the housing market, and he will restore the federal government’s power to enforce settlements against discriminatory lenders.
Additionally, the plan calls for Biden to strengthen and expand the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that the nation’s bank and non-bank financial services institutions are serving all communities.
Biden plans to eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination and establish a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing Providing tax incentives for the construction of more affordable housing in communities that need it most.
Biden also plans to create a White House “Strike Force” to partner with rural communities to help them access federal funds.
“Today, we need a comprehensive agenda for African Americans with an ambition that matches the scale of the challenge and with a recognition that race-neutral policies are not a sufficient response to race-based disparities,” Biden stated.