Biden-Harris, the new team. But what’s in it for the folks who propelled the ticket to victory?
This is how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. summed things up: “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”
America has what it voted for; Trump is gone (I will deal with Trumpism in another article). Despite the failed coup d’état on Jan. 6, President Biden and Vice President Harris will be sworn into office in a matter of hours. The Biden-Harris administration is now a reality.
The majority of Americans are ready for the country to move forward but where does it go and how does it get there? The “empire” must now come to grips with a number of structural problems. Across the United States, voter suppression policies continue to disenfranchise the poor and voters of color. In the aftermath of the George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbury murders too many Americans do not feel safe in their own communities. Twenty-four million American’s have been infected with COVID-19 and nearly 400,000 have died, as the government struggles with the logistics of vaccine distribution and inoculation. COVID-19 also continues to ravage the American economy.
According to the Department of Labor, the four-week moving average of first-time filings for unemployment insurance claims was 834,250, an increase of 18,250 from the previous week’s revised average. Also, 30 to 40 million Americans are on the verge of being evicted from their homes in the dead of winter and in the midst of a pandemic.
The world also knows as W.E.B Du Bois wrote, that the problem of the 20th century is “the problem of the color line.” In 1967 the Kerner Commission warned, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal” and COVID-19 has highlighted deep-rooted systemic racial disparities in health care; highlighting the adage, when America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia.
As the Biden administration implements its COVID, economic, social justice, education, and other programs, African Americans must be at the forefront of articulating the needs of the African American community. “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy,” Dr. King reminds us. It will be fatal for the community if it overlooks the urgency of the moment.
How quickly new president Biden forgot that the African American community saved his candidacy and put him in the White House. He was about to drop out of the race until African American voters in South Carolina delivered him a resounding win.
In December, civil rights leaders had to demand a meeting with the then president-elect to express their concerns about a lack of focus on racial equity, social justice, and increased diversity in the Biden-Harris Cabinet. South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn is on record saying, not enough Black Americans have been nominated to join the incoming Biden administration: “I want to see where the process leads to…But so far it’s not good.”
Biden has confused gender diversity and diversity of phenotype and pigmentation with the diversity of perspective and policy. Look at the names and records of his cabinet selections and nominees. For the most part it’s “Clinton-Obama” retreads. The same people and perspectives that have given us the neoliberal and imperialists policies that have driven the country into the ditch. Republicans have contributed to this as well but right now the focus is on Biden-Harris.
Frederick Douglas told us, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them…The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” What is the African American community willing to demand?
We need a Marshall Plan for the African American community. If the U.S. could spend $15 billion to rebuild Europe after the devastation of WWII, and pass a $740 billion Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. can invest the needed dollars to rebuild the American communities of color that it devastated with the Tulsa race riot, the Red Summer of 1919, and the gutting of urban centers with the building of the highway system of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.
The African American community saved Biden’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and put him in the White House. The African American community saved the Senate for the Democrats with its successful efforts in Georgia. The question is not, what reward will it be given for its efforts? Again, power concedes nothing without a demand. The community must decide what it is willing to fight for. The question is, upon what hill is it willing to die?
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Author of Politics Another Perspective. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: [email protected]. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com © 2021 InfoWave Communications, LLC