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Biden-Harris Carried by Communities of Color; Now Our Policies Must Work for People of Color

SPARCC Calls for Federal Push for Racial Justice

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were elected, in part, because of their shared vision of a nation where every person and community is valued. Buoyed by communities of color in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, and on Navajo Nation lands, we acknowledge the work of community organizers– especially Black women, Latino, Asian American, and Native American organizers– who have given so much to realize a historic turnout. This election puts the first woman in the White House. She also happens to be multi-racial, with Afro-Caribbean and South Asian heritages. 

Make no mistake, there is much work to be done. This election does not mark the beginning nor the end of our shared work toward racial justice. Now, more than ever, we must roll up our sleeves and get this necessary work done. Racial justice makes our nation stronger and it’s critical now that the newly elected administration give its full attention to the communities that brought it to the White House. As a collaborative, we have identified policy recommendations to help drive down disparities across communities. 

“We have trained for this” is a poem written and performed by Leslé Honoré,
a cherished member of the Elevated Chicago collaborative.

There is an urgent need to enact legislation during the lame duck Congress including the much needed and long-overdue assistance to help families avoid eviction or foreclosure worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, our economic crisis, and the unfolding environmental crisis. In the coming months Congress must:

  1. Extend the eviction moratorium and provide emergency financial assistance that support families and essential workers regardless of naturalization status, small businesses (including small landlords), and public transportation agencies through 2021.
  2. Provide immediate assistance for communities devastated by natural disasters augmented by human activity, like historic wildfires, hurricanes, and other extreme events that have affected communities coast to coast, and in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.
  3. Reevaluate and rebalance budgets to cut spending on militarized police forces and reinvest in a shared, moral vision of safety, infrastructure, and recovery that puts families and communities first.

Long term, we also call for the federal government to:

  1. Fund infrastructure, housing, and fair-paying jobs that ensure economic opportunity, housing stability and empowerment of the most vulnerable in our society. 
  2. Move toward transitioning to a carbon-free economy including workforce training and sustainability that will be essential and beneficial for all.  
  3. Support and implement reparations and racial reconciliation for Black and Indigenous communities.

As part of our commitment to this work at the federal level, SPARCC will be launching a policy platform that provides specific recommendations in our four focus areas: equitable transit-oriented development, parks and open space, restorative economy, and housing. 

The United States faces historic challenges, yet those challenges present great opportunity. The Biden-Harris administration must provide bold leadership, investments and initiatives to adequately address the lingering and dire issues our communities face. SPARCC encourages the new administration to quickly overturn executive orders that have penalized Black and Brown communities; roll back regulatory changes that deepen systemic racism in community development – including fair housing – that dismantle important environmental and climate protections; and develop new proposals that restore interagency collaboration, promote equitable transit-oriented development, incentivize partnerships with local communities to advance innovative energy efficiency and community-ownership solutions, and address racial and community wealth building disparities. 

In the coming months, SPARCC partners will work with the new administration to advance policies and investments that support these goals. Likewise, we will continue to hold ourselves, our own institutions, funders, partners, and networks accountable to the communities we serve. Each and every one of us must continue to envision what a racially just society could look like— one where each person’s life is sacred, valued, and beloved— and adapt toward it. If you need inspiration, you need not look further than the front line organizers.