Black Faces Are Nice but Will They Get the Policies Right?

By C.C. Campbell-Rock

President-Elect Joe Biden Jr. is keeping his word. The incoming Biden Administration is already reflecting the diversity of America, as Biden promised, and he has more nominations to make. 

Thus far, Biden has chosen the following Black Americans to serve in his cabinet and administration: Ret. General Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense; former U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Susan Rice, Director of Domestic Policy; Cecilia Rouse, Chairperson, Council of Economic Advisers; Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Ambassador to the United Nations, and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond of New Orleans, Senior Adviser to the President.

Representation Matters

Representation matters and black faces are nice. But policies change lives. So last week civil rights organizations met with Biden. They discussed the need for new substantive policies and cabinet picks. Each must work toward ending America’s long history of racial injustice and structural racism in both the public and private sectors. 

The leaders discussed the need for guidelines to address policing and criminal justice reform, COVID-19, the nation’s racial wealth gap, voting rights and more.

“You cannot move the needle when it comes to racial justice in this country unless you have people at the table at the highest levels who have had lived experiences … and there are Black people qualified for every single position in the government,” National Urban League CEO Marc Morial told reporters after the meeting. ”We saw today a passionate Joe Biden and a passionate Kamala Harris. We will judge this administration by the actions it takes and by its results,” the Associated Press reported.

Sherrilyn Ifill

Sherrilyn Ifill is president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. She said they also discussed voting and the importance of support for legislation that will restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act. Her focus was selecting an attorney general who has a strong civil rights background. She also wants diverse judge appointments.

Rev. Al Sharpton, who was present on behalf of his National Action Network, told media after the conference call that he recommended to Biden and Harris that they appoint a Black attorney General

Policies Change Lives

“I said, however, the least we could have is someone that has a proven civil rights background. Not someone that’s going to handle this heightened racist, bigoted atmosphere with on-the-job training.”

NUL’s Marc Morial

“I think the consensus of the group is we want someone with a strong track record on civil rights, someone who’s done the work of voting and criminal justice reform,” Morial said.

Many see the undertow of racism flowing from Attorney General Bill Barr’s Department of Justice, (Department of Injustice?). It’s clear that it will take a qualified Black American to ensure that justice prevails in America’s black and brown communities. Barr’s inaction against the biggest threat to America, domestic terrorism groups lead by white supremacists, speaks volumes about his department’s de facto protection of racists.

Additionally, Barr’s refusal to honor and oversee or issue new Consent Decrees is revealing. It is akin to the actions taken by neo-Confederates on court benches, in district attorneys’ and state attorney’s general offices, and police departments. They ignore racial inequality.  And they single black people out for disparate treatment in sentencing, incarceration, and prosecutions.

Biden Agenda

Biden does have a Black agenda that addresses issues impacting the black community. The agenda is organized into action items:

  • Advancing the economic mobility of African Americans and closing the racial wealth and income gaps;
  • expanding access to high-quality education and tackling racial inequity in the education system; ending health disparities;
  • strengthening America’s commitment to justice via criminal justice and police reform,
  • protecting voting rights;
  • addressing environmental justice.

For the details of Biden’s plan visit:

Biden’s Black America agenda checks all the boxes for issues that negatively impact the black community. But there are serious concerns as to how much of Biden’s priorities for Black Americans can come to fruition. The Republicans’ goal is to make Biden a one-term president.  Ostensibly by blocking his initiatives and then paint him as a do-nothing president.

Republicans, led by Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are expected to obstruct Biden’s nominees. They will table Biden-backed bills that come to the Senate.

African American Issues

Biden will have to gingerly walk the line between lawmakers and the desires of the black community. The list includes:

  • COVID-19 vaccines,
  • police reform,
  • criminal justice reform,
  • the elimination of mass incarceration and the abolishment of the mandatory minimum sentencing law,
  • equal pay,
  •  health care reform,
  •  child care assistance,
  • voting rights protections,
  • education reform,
  • affordable housing
  • low-cost higher education,
  • relief from student debt,
  • penalties for air and water polluters,
  • an end to environmental racism,
  • access to grants and affordable loans for small businesses, among others.

Not only have the Republicans ignored the black community, but they also recently launched legal challenges to toss out the votes of Black Americans.  

 There are more than 50 lawsuits filed by Republicans to challenge ballots in predominately black counties, in the battleground states Biden won. This was the vehicle Trump and the Republicans used to orchestrate a coup and, by fiat, the destruction of America’s democracy.

In short, the Republican Party is waging a Civil War in the courts. They want to subvert the votes of black and brown people in an unspoken effort to stop the browning of America. What their actions divulge, however, is that they want to solidify minority run in a country that is growing more diverse by the day. White dominance in America is predicted to end by 2040. 

Republican Attacks

However, for the moment minority rule by white Americans is a reality. Gerrymandered districts drawn by Republican state legislatures and the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to declare partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional, has led to an unfair advantage and disproportionate representation by Republicans in state legislatures and in Congress. In both lawmaking bodies, Republicans are the majority—in excess of their actual percentages of the population in individual states in and in the U.S.

The only way to overcome these legislative injustices is to vote in massive numbers and sweep Republicans out of office who only want to hold public office to enrich themselves and no one else.

The Congressional Republicans’ refusal to pass the Heroes Act, the coronavirus relief package passed by the House in May 2020. They refused to unseat Trump during his Impeachment Trial. Republicans launched senseless investigations of Trump’s perceived enemies, e.g., Hunter Biden and federal career employees. And they blocked police and judicial reform. The inhumane caging of children seeking asylum at the border. But they quietly passed a 2 trillion-dollar package that benefited big corporations. Yet they refused to pass a bill that compensates cities and states and provide checks to struggling Americans. Thus is an in-your-face reminder that Republicans are self-servants, not public servants. Most importantly, they have backed the most racist, unsympathetic president in modern America history. This shows they are as racist as he is. They are down for whatever it takes to stay in  power.

Subversion of the will of the people and violations of the Constitution and the laws of this land mean nothing to Republicans.

For sure, patriots in the incoming Biden Administration will face perilous times. Even after Trump leaves the Oval Office, the destruction of the American republic will persist on the to-do list of Republicans. They are paving the way for Trump’s return to office in 2024, as a Dictator-in-Chief or a Monarch.  

Biden’s vow to undo the harmful executive orders of Donald Trump, Jr. is a good start, but will it be enough to advance his agenda to build back better?

Undoubtedly it won’t.  Which is why it is so important to have a diverse cabinet filled by people with life experiences that reflect America’s melting pot and who support the passage of laws that implement corrective policies that benefit Americans of color, specifically, and all Americans, generally.


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