Biden Unveils Racial Equity Agenda, Without Even Calling Himself Abraham Lincoln
The creature that once squatted in the White House believed the phrase “Black Lives Matter" was racist. Our current real president believes Black lives matter. There's a lot still wrong with the world, but this is one thing that feels very right.
Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed four executive orders intended to combat racial inequity. This is on top of his order from last week directing federal agencies to review "the state of equity" in their agencies and deliver plans "to address unequal barriers to opportunity in agency policies and programs." The Office of Management and Budget, which Neera Tanden will run while making Republicans cry, is tasked with allocating federal resources equitably and investing in "communities of color and other underserved communities." (See, he hasn't forgotten broke-ass white people, either.)
Biden directed the incoming attorney general to torch all Justice Department contracts with privately operated prisons.This restores the policy Obama enacted toward the end of his term. Biden said it's "a first step to stop corporations from profiting off of incarceration."
Biden has also directed Department of Housing and Urban Development to "take steps necessary to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies that have contributed to wealth inequality for generations." That's right! Cory Booker's coming for your “suburban lifestyle dream." No, I'm kidding. That was just some racist nonsense President Klan Robe would go on about during his campaign cross burnings.
Ohio House Rep. Marcia Fudge is Biden's pick to run HUD. Her Senate hearings are scheduled to start on Thursday. IWhile it is official Wonkette editorial policy that she should have been named to the Department of Agriculutre, if confirmed, she'll be the first woman ever to run HUD and the first conscious HUD secretary since Julian Castro ran the department under Barack Obama. She's specifically charged with unfucking up HUD after the previous administration.
The final two orders reaffirms the federal government's "commitment to tribal sovereignty and consultation" and condemns "xenophobia against Asian American and Pacific Islanders." Hate crimes against Asian Americans rose this year as the coronavirus spread. That's what happens when a racist president refers to COVID-19 as the “China virus" or, even worse, the “kung flu."
The president dropped some real talk before signing the orders. He acknowledged that the American government has played a key role in implementing discriminatory housing policies.
One of the reasons I'm so optimistic about this nation is that today's generation of young Americans is the most progressive, thoughtful, inclusive generation that America has ever seen. And they are pulling us toward justice in so many ways, forcing us to confront the huge gap in economic inequity, between those at the top and everyone else, forcing us to confront the existential crisis of climate. And yes, forcing us to confront systemic racism and white supremacy.
The president noted that only a few weeks have passed since “a group of thugs, insurrectionists, political extremist and white supremacists." He argued that now is the time to act, to confront the ugliness that has festered in America for so long, and what unscrupulous people have stoked for political gain.
For too long, we've allowed a narrow cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester. We've bought the view that America is a zero sum game, in many cases. If you succeed, I fail. If you get ahead, I fall behind. If you get the job, I lose mine. Maybe worst of all, if I hold you down, I lift myself up. We've lost sight of what President Kennedy told us when he said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." And when you lift each other up, we're all lifted up. And the corollary is true as well. When any one of us is held down, we're all held back.
Biden's domestic adviser Susan Rice backed up Kennedy's famous homily with facts. During a White House briefing prior to the president's remarks, Rice said, “The evidence is clear, investing in equity is good for economic growth."
The U.S. economy had lost $16 trillion over the last 20 years because of discrimination, Rice said, citing figures published by Citigroup here in September 2020. Closing the gaps in income and opportunity could "add $5 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next five years, and over six million new jobs for all Americans," she said.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday, declared in a welcome letter to her staff that her department will harness the economy so that it works for everyone.
"Economics isn't just something you find in a textbook," Yellen wrote. "I believe economic policy can be a potent tool to improve society. We can – and should – use it to address inequality, racism, and climate change."
@dessadarling @DessaDarling your tune is “money”. Thanks for the mood music, I’ll take it from here.— Janet Yellen (@Janet Yellen)1611699662.0
While we're celebrating, let's also note that Biden shut down the lost cause 1776 Commission: Grand opening, grand closing! It's daring to hear a US president, especially a white man, admit finally that America has “never lived up to its founding promise of equality for all." Biden balances this stark reality with his characteristic optimism: “But we've never stopped trying."
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."