White House adviser Cedric Richmond said in a recent interview that President Joe Biden intends to start taking action “now” on reparations and could support measures including giving free college tuition to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“We have to start breaking down systemic racism and barriers that have held people of color back and especially African-Americans who were enslaved,” Richmond said in an interview with Axios. “We have to do stuff now to improve the plight, status, future, and empowerment of Black people all around the country.”
“We don’t want to wait on a study that we even support,” Richmond said. “We’re going to start acting now.”
Business Insider noted that when Richmond was unsure about what a potential timeline could look like for getting some sort of reparations bill passed but pointed to education-related measures that could be put into effect.
“If you start talking about free college tuition to HBCUs and you start talking about free community college in Title I and all of those things, I think that you are well on your way. Those are doable.”
The push for reparations is widely unpopular in the U.S., with only 20 percent of Americans backing the idea and only half of the black community supporting it.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki signaled during a press conference last month that Biden was open to considering reparations depending on the actions of Congress.
“Does the president support the legislation?” a reporter asked Psaki. “He stopped short of saying that during the campaign. Would he sign that if it came to his desk?”
“Well, he’s supported a study of reparations, which is I believe is what’s being discussed, and studying the continuing impacts of slavery, which is being discussed in this hearing on H.R. 40, I believe it is,” Psaki responded. “And he continues to demonstrate his commitment to take comprehensive action to address the systemic racism that persists today. Obviously, that is — having that study is a part of that, but he has signed an executive order on his first day, which would begin to deliver on his commitment to having an across-government approach to addressing racial inequality and making sure equity is a part of his entire policy agenda.”
When the reporter further pressed Psaki on why Biden doesn’t create a commission by executive order, Psaki responded, “He actually signed a number of actions on racial equity in — on his first day or his first couple of days in office because he felt it was essential to send the message to the American people and the world that having an across-government approach, ensuring that equity is a central part of his policy agenda was, you know, not just a single — a singular issue but something that would be a part of every policy issue he approaches, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s economic inequality, a range of issues.”
She added, “That’s his approach and how he’s trying to, you know, change — address the root causes of racism in our country today.”
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