“We did it!”
This has been the sentiment across the various blue states and democratic parts of the United States as it was announced that former Vice President, Joe Biden, and Senator, Kamala Harris, would be inheriting the White House as the 46th administration.
Some independents characterize this news as, “a lesser of two evils,” and thus feel it should not be appropriately celebrated as a win for democracy or for minorities in general. But as a Black man, I can tell you that these people are wrong.
Here are five reasons why a Biden/Harris presidency is crucial to our fight for equality and for the advancement of our people in the United States of America.
As minorities, we know the hurdles and oppositions we face to get ahead in an America that still struggles to accept the fact racism exists. Thus, a majority of us felt it would be at least a few more decades before another Black person would see the hallowed halls of the White House. This was even more evident by Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric against Obama, from the birther attacks to his outright election, which has been seen as a rebuke of the Obama presidency. But just four years removed from an Obama presidency, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is now the first Black Vice President. Not only that, but she‘s also the first female vice president, the first vice president of South Asian descent, the first daughter of immigrants ever elected in the U.S., and the first vice president to have graduated from a historically Black university.
In becoming vice president, Harris shattered many glass ceilings for minorities that one could easily say is the perfect affront to and the undoing of the Trump administration’s assault on civil rights and liberties. It is a privilege in this nation to see yourself reflected in the face of leadership and now all young girls can continue to dream big. Specifically, Black and South Asian girls can see what the possibilities are in terms of what this country has in store for them.
LIVING IN A COUNTRY WITH LESS FEAR
The importance of the Biden/Harris win, as it relates to being Black in America, can not be overstated. Although racial tension in the U.S. is nothing new, it has been heightened since the Trump administration. An NPR poll points to this, with the majority of Americans stating that Trump has increased racial tensions since the death of George Floyd, with a Pre Research poll corroborating this finding.
Under Attorney General Bill Barr, the Department of Justice designated states with Black Lives Matter protestors as anarchist jurisdictions, while providing supplies and escorts to counter-protestors. Moreover, we must not forget the threat of deportation most immigrants lived under for the past four years since Trump was elected. Needless to say, Trump’s administration has explicitly demonized minorities in America while promoting a divided agenda.
White nationalism and terrorism also reached an all-time high in the U.S. under the Trump administration. According to Business Insider, the FBI is scheduled to report that the majority of terroristic attacks in the United States are currently being carried out by white terrorists - not outside actors. These same people were being emboldened by Donald Trump, who not only called them “very fine people” but also told them to “stand back and to stand by” when asked to condemn their actions.
As a Black man in America and as a son of immigrants, yesterday I experienced first-hand how the Biden/Harris win lifted an enormous heavyweight for so many Americans - one that allows all of us to breathe. President-elect, Joe Biden stands for a united nation, and knowing that he doesn’t advocate for things such as suspending work visas under the dubious guise of protecting American jobs, is a reason for many minorities in America to celebrate.
A BIDEN/HARRIS PRESIDENCY IS BETTER FOR BLACK HEALTH
The Obama/Biden presidency included a wealth of health benefits for Black people. Their policies allowed kids to stay on their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26, protected pre-existing health conditions, and ultimately gave 21 million more people health insurance - most of them being Black people who could not afford insurance prior. Trump’s presidency was spent trying to get pre-existing conditions removed from Obamacare which would’ve made it harder for those without insurance to get one. Biden has an opportunity to resolve this underlying issue while focusing on making healthcare more inclusive.
Trump’s lack of response to the COVID-19 crisis has also adversely affected Black people seeing that Black people and Latinos have died from contracting the virus more than any other race in America. In contrast, Biden advocates for social distancing and has followed health official‘s recommendations to wear a mask, which scientists say decreases the infection rate by over 80%.
A BETTER ECONOMY FOR BLACK PEOPLE
Currently, Trump’s policies have not trickled down to the average American and even less so to the less fortunate. Several corporations that received tax refunds used that money as buybacks for their shareholders. Martin Whitaker, the CEO of JUST Capital, said, ‘President-elect Joe Biden could accelerate stakeholder capitalism - the belief that companies are responsible not only to their shareholders but also to their stakeholders like their workers and customers.’ This is especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused several Americans, many of them being Black, to lose their jobs.
As more business leaders indicate their willingness to help reduce economic and racial inequality and combat climate change, the Biden/Harris presidency has erased a lot of the apprehension that Wall Street had - caused by the various trade wars and international wrangling the Trump administration was involved in. This is evident by the increased trade indexes as it was announced that the Biden/Harris ticket was winning in swing states.
If you look at the Obama/Biden presidency for further reference, the economy was up every year they were in office - they delivered the nation out of a recession and decreased the unemployment rate to single digits. If this is a sign of what’s to come during the Biden/Harris administration, Black people have much to look forward to.
A BETTER EDUCATION FOR BLACK PEOPLE
The removal of Betsy DeVos as the Education Secretary of the United States is one of the single most important paths Black people have to a better future in this country. DeVos has been held in contempt of court and fined $100,000 for failing to stop collecting loans from former students of a now-defunct chain of for-profit colleges. Most of these students were Black people who were forced to scramble to find a new school to attend while being forced to pay for loans they did not gain anything from. DeVos also helped to push Trump’s agenda of dismantling equal rights laws for Black people and minorities in schools by helping to cut funding for schools by billions of dollars.
Despite this, the Trump administration still threatened to cut funding to schools that used the 1619 Project, a New York Times-backed initiative that focused on the "consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans.” He called it child abuse - discrediting the idea that learning about slavery in detail is one way to combat the lingering racism that still exists in today's America. Contrarily, President-elect, Joe Biden is in support of the 1619 Project, which is a big first step in the right direction for this country and could create a path for more genuine dialogue.
The reality is, this is only five ways that Black people and minorities in America will benefit from a Biden/Harris presidency and I believe there is still more to come in the years ahead. Understandably, this goes without saying that there‘s a lot more work to do and Black people must continue to hold President-elect, Joe Biden, and Vice President, Kamala Harris accountable as they work to implement formal changes that uphold the dignity and equality of this nation.
Even still, there’s no doubt in my mind that Americans have a better chance for a restored, more unified democracy. I, for one, slept a lot easier last night and could not be happier.