Systemic racism - something that has plagued our country for centuries - has been on full display in 2020. We have witnessed despicable acts of violence against our Black community and People of Color, and just when we think we’ve seen the worst, another story or video surfaces, leaving us to wonder when enough is enough.
People of all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds have come together to stand in solidarity for the Black Community, because Black lives don’t just matter, they are essential, worthy, and irreplaceable. And now, we must vote for them.
What we’ve been doing as a nation to combat racism in this country has failed - terribly. And this election is a chance to address racism in every aspect of our society, because it extends far beyond police violence and racial injustice. COVID-19 has shone a light on racial disparities in health and healthcare access as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) have contracted and died from the coronavirus at rates far higher than white Americans. The economic fallout from the pandemic has also hit Black and Brown communities harder - Black and Latino unemployment is at 15.4 and 14.5 percent, respectively. Black, Latino, and Asian American businesses are closing at alarming rates, and these communities are disproportionately affected by climate related extreme weather like hurricanes, fires, and floods.
Your vote not only matters, but impacts racial inequalities in a deep way. Let’s dive further into how imperative your vote is.
Housing equity falls into this category. The people you elect should believe housing is a fundamental right and work to end racial inequities in this area. This includes building and repairing affordable housing, ending redlining and other discriminatory practices in the housing market, eviction protection, and expanding funding for homeless shelters and programs.
Healthcare is one area where we see major racial disparities at play. In addition to what’s at stake with the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) your vote has the power to reduce maternal mortality rate, which disproportionately affects black women. Pre-existing condidtions, investments in health centers, mental health services, and research are all on the ballot through the candidates you support.
Investing federal funding in schools with a high percentage of low-income students, nationwide access to pre-K education, building new and better schools in Black communities and other low-income and communities of color, and actively diversifying schools and recruiting teachers of color.
Environmental burdens and polluters disproportionately harm Black communities. Federal and state environmental protections are put in place to hold polluters accountable. Investment in clean energy will also create millions of good-paying jobs.
Rooting out racial disparities in our criminal justice system must start at the polls. Everything from reducing BIPOC incarcerated populations and addressing systemic misconduct in police departments to decriminalizing the use of cannabis and ending cash bail to juvenile justice reform is on the ballot via the candidates we elect.
Racial inequalities have permeated every aspect of American life and the solutions are decided at every level of government. Your vote matters - not just in federal elections but state and local too. It’s the metaphorical stamp you are putting on your belief that when it comes to racial inequality, enough is enough. It is up to us to elect political leaders who will do more than just condem racism. We need leaders who will put anti-racist policies in place and ensure that in the future equality extends beyond white Americans.