From the disparate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) communities to the disproportionately cruel effects of the economic on Black families (more likely to suffer from unemployment, lack of health insurance, housing and food insecurity, and poverty), the protests and outcry ongoing since the killing of George Floyd have cast a spotlight that cannot be dimmed.
None of this is to say that America’s fate will be the same no matter who wins the presidential election. Nothing could be further from the truth. But it is imperative to consider what a victory for President Donald Trump would cost every American when it comes to race — and likewise crucial to think about what would be required, should Joe Biden win, to make his promises of progress into a reality.
The most important aspect of a Biden presidency will be its policy ambitions. This year has shown us the interplay between local, state and federal policy on matters of criminal justice, health care, poverty, violence, and more. Reparations, student debt forgiveness, universal health care and college education, and a universal basic income should be part of a national policy debate that is centered on how best to achieve racial and economic justice in America in our lifetime.
Perhaps a President Trump who is buffeted by Democratic majorities in the House and Senate could be willing to sign off on wealth creation legislation that could transform the way in which banks and financial institutions treat Blacks individually and collectively. Financial reform that recognizes the historical role played by public and private financial institutions in maintaining Black poverty from racial slavery to the present could be a game changer that underscores the Republican Party’s long-standing rhetoric of being the champions of the entrepreneurial class.
Now the even more difficult work begins, no matter what happens next week. Racial oppression represents an existential threat to American democracy. Like a wound ignored and allowed to fester, our national racial trauma continues to distort the present and put the future at risk. The best parts of that future will be anti-racist. The challenge ahead is forging a national consensus around the value and beauty of Black humanity, one that transcends political and party affiliation to imagine — then realize — the vision of a country that embraces racial justice and equity irrespective of partisan politics.