The issue of systemic racism continuously surfaced during President Joe Biden’s campaign. Systemic racism is deeply embedded into our systems, making it difficult to combat. President Biden knows that by leveling the playing field for minorities, we can begin to undo some of the damage that has been done over decades. The American Rescue Plan contains some means of dealing with this issue. By reaching to lift children out of poverty, President Biden is making a significant step, as many minority children live in poverty. In 2019, black children made up 31% of children in poverty with Native American children following closely behind at 30% (Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Center). By increasing tax credits, providing direct aid, and subsidizing childcare expenses, President Biden’s plan is a great start, but it is not the end. As reported by the Washington Post, $5 billion of the $10.4 billion allocated to farmers will go to farmers of color. Experts call this portion of the plan “the most significant legislation for Black farmers since the Civil Rights Act,” and it is needed.
When looking at the specifics on this portion of the plan, the money will go to debt relief, grants, training, education, and other assistance that will help farmers acquire land. Black farmers have lost 90% of their land (12 million acres) over the past century, primarily since the 1950s. Both agricultural experts and advocates for Black farmers believe these losses stem from systemic racism, biased government policy (from the USDA), and practices that have denied equal access to markets. In 1997, Black farmers sued USDA (Pigford v. Glickman and Brewington v. Glickman) for discrimination in farm loans according to National Law Center. These claims dated back to 1983, and while those suits were eventually settled, the litigants likely received little, as attorneys get the bulk in class actions. The American Rescue Plan will provide real, much-needed relief for Black farmers albeit more than 20 years later.
This part of the plan was drawn from the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, which was introduced by Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock. Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Ben Ray Luján (NM), and Debbie Stabenow (MI) endorsed the original bill. While this is welcome relief for Black farmers, Republicans are stewing. Steve Daines (MT), Pat Toomey (PA), Tommy Tuberville (AL), Mike Braun (IN), and Ron Johnson (WI) all tried to amend that portion of the plan. Toomey called it a “liberal wish-list” that was devised “exclusively for ethnic minorities or immigrants.” Thank you for retiring Toomey. The fewer of you in Congress the better. Too bad he cannot take the rest of them with him. The Republican party has absolutely no interest in helping people, especially people of color.
President Biden is forging ahead with his promises to the American people. Finally, we can experience a sense of pride about who we put in the White House. The American Rescue Plan will not only help people, but it has begun the battle of dismantling systemic racism in our country. Great job, President Biden, great job.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years