Is the Biden/Harris Team the Right Direction for Black America?
By Ronald Yates
During the primaries leading up to the election, Joe Biden was floundering in the polls, and it appeared as if his campaign was near folding. It was not until the South Carolina primary that Biden’s campaign began to show signs of life. It was the Black community under the urging of Senator James Clyburn that came out in record numbers in support of Biden. Following his win in South Carolina Biden never looked back. During the November 3rd presidential election, again, the Black community once again came out in numbers not seen since Barack Obama’s first run for office. This outpour of support helped secure the election for the Biden/Harris team. The question is what now? What should the Black community ask of Joe Biden and the first African-American Vice-President. Should the first request be reparations or should we demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and a host of others? Should we lobby the President and Congress to end the crippling debt that keeps Africa held hostage to the IMF and the World Bank?
While some may be satisfied with the prospect of a women-of-color serving as Vice-President, I am under the belief that at this time, a time like no other, we must make demands. The problem is getting all of the diverse factions together in an effort to come to a consensus on what it is we need rather than want. For far too long the government has made promises that they had no intentions of keeping or granted, but over time gradually stripped away. The vast majority of gains, coming as a result of the Civil Rights Movement did not benefit the people who marched under the constant threat of violence. Those who actually benefitted were White women, the LGBTQ community, and Jewish people. For most Black people not much has changed from the height of the Civil Rights Movement till today. We are still facing pervasive racism, poverty, lack of quality educational opportunities, high rates of unemployment, and a lack of access to quality health care. The same can be said in many poorer communities across the nation, but for communities of color, the inequities were gov’t sanctioned. The U.S. Gov’t gave land grants to White people, built colleges and universities for their descendants, but told Black and Brown people to “pull themselves up by their boot-straps.” Of course, we lacked neither the boots nor the straps, our ancestors left the various plantations with nothing more than the ragged clothes on their backs and the meager possessions they managed to accumulate, most of which were the slave master’s hand-me-downs.”
One hundred fifty years later, the conditions for Black Americans have gotten worse. When our ancestors walked off the slave masters’ land they vowed never to return. Today the conditions we live under are, to many of us, just satisfactory. Many Blacks don’t seem to want to continue the fight for equality and have given up and are opting to rely on Gov’t handouts for their survival. This was never the hopes or dreams of our ancestors. They envisioned us being self-sufficient, just as we were in the Black Wall Street, Rosewood, and a host of other communities once controlled by Back people before being destroyed by White racism and oppression.
Today, we have lost nearly all of the land our ancestors acquired. Black farmers have never benefitted from governmental farm assistance and have been languishing for years trying to hold on to the last parcels of farmland owned by Black Americans. Perhaps that is another demand we should make of our Gov’t… to assist black farmers with grants and low-interest loans. In many underprivileged communities, food items like fresh produce are nearly unheard of, while illicit items like guns and drugs are plentiful. As Dr. King said, ” If not us then who, if not now then when.” We have an obligation and now is the time for us to recognize and accept our joint responsibility, galvanize our accountability, organize for the greater good of all of us and mobilize, once and for all.