Opinion: Whether it's President Trump or Biden, the fight for racial justice is crucial
October 30, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27: Demonstrators gather in protest near the location where Walter Wallace, Jr. was killed by two police officers on October 27, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Protests erupted after the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Wallace Jr, who Philadelphia police officers claimed was armed with a knife. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
No matter who wins the 2020 election, President Trump or President Biden will face a complex challenge over the fight for racial justice -- a fight of paramount importance for the country that goes beyond electoral politics, says Peniel Joseph. In his estimation, neither candidate seems ready to face that reality yet.
Regardless of the election outcome, transformational change must be the next step, with racial justice advocates helping all of us to re-imagine American democracy and calling on leaders to repurpose national policy ambitions in service of these goals.
President Trump claimed to have done more for Black America than any other president since Abraham Lincoln, a hyperbolic statement that led Biden into his best line of the evening: "Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents in modern American history. " President Trump most assuredly did not get the pointed sarcasm of Biden's response.
President Trump's much-mentioned achievements on race -- his signing of the First Step Criminal Justice Reform Act and federal support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) -- are indeed worthy but must be balanced against his naked appeals to the nation's worse racial impulses.
Perhaps that's because Biden's focus on increasing federal funds for police anti-bias training feels insufficient in a year where Black Lives Matter protests roiled the nation and upended the political status quo.
Reparations, student debt forgiveness, universal health care and college education, and a universal basic income should be part of a national policy debate that is centered on how best to achieve racial and economic justice in America in our lifetime.
While we're imagining the future, what about a second Trump administration that, having built a presidency on racial division, becomes supportive of racial justice policies?
The challenge ahead is forging a national consensus around the value and beauty of Black humanity, one that transcends political and party affiliation to imagine -- then realize -- the vision of a country that embraces racial justice and equity irrespective of partisan politics.