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Joe Biden on Race

The Biden administration will work to share the benefits of the global transition to sustainability. Varshini Prakesh (1), co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, and part of the Biden-Sanders Unity Taskforce (2) has commended Biden for his commitment to “directing federal funds to disadvantaged communities, ending pollution & toxic waste sites, and creating mitigation strategies and rebuilding from disaster in just and equitable ways” (3). Biden will make sure low-income communities have preference for receiving the Clean Economy Revolution grants, will “reinvigorate and repurpose” (4) AmeriCorps to help communities transition to sustainability, and will create a task force to help tribal communities transition. Biden has said he will “commit to a more robust and meaningful consultation process with tribes across all federal agencies" (5).

Joe Biden has demanded the Covid-19 recovery efforts be equitable &  just, and has designed a plan which targets minorities for assistance, while helping all Americans. Black Americans are dying of Covid-19 at three times the rate (6) of white people. This is because of a lack of access to health care, less-flexible work conditions, and a greater rate of underlying conditions (7) such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and lung disease (largely due to environmental and food inequity). While the economic plight facing black Americans is particularly acute (before the pandemic, the net worth of a typical white family was nearly ten times (8) greater than that of a black family), 90% of African American-owned (9) businesses were denied a PPP loan. Biden's plan (10) includes eliminating healthcare disparities, making Covid-19 testing and treatment free, establishing and enforcing national health and safety standards for workplaces, and reserving half of additional PPP loans for businesses with less than 50 employees, “so the bigger and more well-connected aren’t able to win in a first-come, first-served race”. 

Joe Biden understands that, because of systemic racism, black Americans have not had adequate chance to build wealth in this country.  To help remedy this, Biden plans to adopt the 10-20-30 formula (11) for all federal programs, "which would allocate 10% of funding to counties 'where 20% or more of the population has been living below the poverty line for the last 30 years.'" He will also offer tax credits (12) to small businesses to help employees create retirement plans, invest $640 billion in affordable housing, and will work to eliminate bias in housing appraisement. Biden will also invest in the next generation (13) through bolstering federal funding for historically black colleges & universities (HBCUs), tripling Title I school funding, doubling the number of school mental health professionals, expanding the Pell grant program, & providing grants for school districts which work to diversify their programs. 

Joe Biden will end private prisons and scale-down mass incarceration.  Despite having only 5% of the world’s population, the US has 21% of the world’s prisoners (14). The practice of mass incarceration tears apart American families, costs taxpayers $80 billion each year (15), gives disproportionate sentences to Americans of color, and creates a cycle of violence and poverty (16).  Biden has committed to a federal decriminalization (17) of cannabis use, to release those in jail for cannabis use with a clear record, and pledged to expand “effective alternatives to detention”. Biden will end private prisons (18), invest $1 billion per year in juvenile justice reform, and end mandatory minimum sentencing. Biden has shown some remorse for the role he played in the “tough on crime” movement of the ’80’s and 90’s, saying it "trapped an entire generation”, and that "it was a big mistake when [some of the decisions] were made” (19).

While Joe Biden does not support defunding the police, he has come out in support of the “urgent need for reform”(20).  In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Biden organized a series of online gatherings and round tables (21) with leaders in the black community, made visits to black churches and protest sites, and met with Floyd’s family (22). As part of his reform plan, Biden has announced a “federal ban on police chokeholds, a new federal police oversight commission, new national standards for when and how police use force, more mandatory data collection from local law enforcement, and more power for the Department of Justice to investigate local police departments” (23). Biden has said he will allocate additional funds (24). to police departments working to reform themselves and to buy body cameras, but that he will withhold federal funds from those that refuse. Biden has stated that he will reinstate funding (25) for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice.