Biden releases plan focused on African-American community, racial disparities in COVID-19's impact

The plan encompasses six main policy areas to address racial inequality.

May 4, 2020, 5:43 PM

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign released Monday afternoon a broad policy proposal aimed at “rooting out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, our institutions, and our hearts,” and helping African Americans in the U.S.-- plans released amid the coronavirus pandemic and its disparate impact on minorities.

The "Lift Every Voice” proposal focuses on addressing racial disparities that exist within education, health care, the economy, environmental justice, criminal justice and voting rights.

“The truth is, African Americans can never have a fair shot at the American Dream so long as entrenched disparities are still allowed to chip away at opportunity. You don’t have an equal chance when your schools are substandard, when your home is undervalued, when your car insurance costs more for no good reason, or when the poverty rate for African Americans is more than twice what it is for whites,” Biden wrote in a statement announcing his plan.

The plan comprises a number of different previously announced policy initiatives focused on the African American community, but also focuses on the “new light” that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown on the public health and economic disparities black America is facing today, according to the campaign.

A business stands closed on May 02, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Biden and his campaign are also reiterating their call for more data to be released by the Centers for Disease Control could further illuminate and inform policy making decisions that could alleviate the pain the African American and other minority communities are enduring as a result of the crisis.

“The data we’ve seen so far suggests that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than whites. 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,” the plan says, citing data from the Kaiser Family Foundation and a recent study from Harvard University.

On the economic front, the plan also calls for more funding for the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and a renewed focus on ensuring that funding is received by African-American-owned businesses hard hit by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to the plan, as president, Biden would also push for various criminal justice reforms, including calling on the Justice Department to prioritize the prosecution of hate crimes.

Biden’s plan also highlights Biden’s previously announced support of more progressive policy proposals on student debt and loans, reiterating the former vice president’s plan to forgive student loan debt for families making less than $125,000 for all public universities, and private historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions.

The former vice president relied heavily on the support of the African American community throughout the Democratic primary, pulling away from the crowded field in part due to sweeping victories across a series of southern states on Super Tuesday and other by winning other states with significant black populations.

Senior aides to Biden told reporters Monday that the candidate will continue to push his message through virtual campaigning while the COVID-19 crisis has paused in-person events, but added that the campaign is planning upcoming “virtual days in different places across the country,” but did not offer more specifics on their upcoming schedule.

“[Vice President Biden] will be taking this message, particularly as it relates to combating what's happening with the coronavirus, the lack of leadership in the White House currently, and the lack of governance from the White House currently and juxtaposing that with what he would do as President,” a senior campaign official said.

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