The four executive orders President Joe Biden signed on Tuesday on advancing racial equity marked the new administration’s first major address of systemic racism and signal a bold departure from previous administrations which rarely tackled racial inequities head-on, reports Politico. The executive orders direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to dismantle Trump-era housing discrimination policies, end the Department of Justice’s contracts with private prisons, reestablish tribal sovereignty and combat xenophobia against Asian Americans, which is on the rise since the start of the pandemic. Biden’s mandates are a positive sign that he’s willing to address racial inequities, advocates say, and they plan to continue lobbying him and other Democrats to go big on their policies impacting communities of color.
Black voters broke historic turnout records to help Democrats win the presidency and the Senate despite being among those most impacted by the virus and ensuing economic downturn: Black patients are nearly three times more likely to die from the coronavirus while most minority-owned businesses were among the last to receive financial assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program. While Biden’s begun to deliver on his promises to show up for communities of color, the most impactful work will happen in Congress. When he signed the executive orders, Biden also called for restoration and expansion of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would protect voter access. In addition, congressional Democrats say they plan to revisit police reform in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and pass legislation protecting minority-owned businesses.