What Black America Needs From Biden’s First 100 Days

Executive orders are well and good, but it’s time to get serious

Accountability

You know why 74 million people voted to reelect Donald Trump? Because Congress has mastered — and worse, has become comfortable with — doing too little too late for citizens across the board. The checks and balances built into the legislative branch’s daily routine work just fine for rich constituents and as stall tactics for its members but are horrible for justice and civic accountability. One of the ways around this is to push the Democrats to use the bully pulpit they’ve just acquired: majority votes with as little negotiation as possible, controlling what hits the floor, and filibusters as backup. In other words, it’s time to start using the Republicans’ playbook.

Education

Half of the Democrats who ran for president last year did so on a dangling carrot of clean-slating college debt, which, regardless of how you feel about its efficacy, energized key sectors of their base (college educated, younger than 50, center-leaning). Somewhere along the way, that turned into $50,000. On the eve of his presidency, we’re now hearing $10,000, which, while not zero, doesn’t change much of anything for people with even average student debt.

Progressives pulled the party to the left when a more traditional approach would have lost them the election; now it’s time to dance with the folks who brought you.

Black Lives Matter

If Black folks created this movement under Obama, you know we have some expectations in 2021. Full disclosure: I don’t expect much change on this one. The police are basically a political sub-party—and not a left-leaning one—and they’re literally everywhere. They have the most resilient unions anyone has ever seen, and many police forces are politically threaded into the fabric of their respective cities in such a way that the buck of responsibility never seems to stop anywhere.

Climate change

By most credible scientific accounts, if something isn’t done about climate change within the next 10 years, we should expect to start losing coastal beachfront property by 2050. The promotion of a science-focused chair to a cabinet position could turn the tables on this veritable newsstand’s worth of issues, but I’m lobbying for something more direct and eminently fixable now: water.

Covid-19

This one I’m not too worried about seeing materialize. Biden straight-up promised 100 million vaccine doses delivered in the first 100 days, and I don’t see anything to suggest he won’t earnestly push to have it done. Mind you, it isn’t because Biden is a nice guy. It’s because as long as the virus remains at play, America’s real priority engine, capitalism, can’t function. This was fine as long as Republicans ran everything — their whole purpose as a party is to make every citizen participate in a game of Last Oligarch Standing. But the Democrats generally believe that everyone should at least be able to live something resembling a meaningful and productive life and not just as ingredients for varying flavors of Soylent Green.

Lift Every Voice: The Biden Plan for Black America

You will likely remember this chestnut from the Great Ice Cube Contract War of 2020. The ridiculously named Biden plan is full of wonderful-sounding things, but the key to seeing real change in 100 days is not letting the administration pick stuff that would have happened under another umbrella anyway. For instance, you don’t let them check off their Black agenda box for “expanding access to affordable health care” when you know that’s what they’re doing for all Americans anyway.

Writer and poet holding down Columbus, Ohio

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