Susan Rice: ‘Systemic Racism Puts the American Dream Far Out of Reach’

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    President Joe Biden on Tuesday will sign a set of executive orders aimed at improving racial equity across American society, including combating discrimination in housing policies and ending the use of private prisons.

    Biden will issue four executive orders on Tuesday, an administration official said, in his first policy response to nationwide protests over institutionalized racism.

    The actions add to a long list of executive orders he’s taken aimed at advancing his campaign promises and rolling back former President Donald Trump’s policies.

    Biden is directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to review and change policies from the Trump administration that undermined protections under the Fair Housing Act, the White House said.

    “These aren’t feel-good policies,” Susan Rice, Biden’s top domestic policy adviser, said Tuesday at a briefing at the White House. “The evidence is clear: Investing in equity is good for economic growth and it creates jobs for all Americans.”

    The White House said Biden is making efforts to end mass incarceration, which disproportionately affects people of color. He will direct the attorney general not to renew contracts with privately operated detention facilities — reversing the Trump administration’s approach — saying those prisons profit from keeping inmates in less safe conditions.

    One of the orders aims to empower Native American tribal self-determination, and another targets xenophobia against Asian Americans. The action directs the Department of Health and Human Services to consider issuing guidance to advance language access to the Asian American community in the federal government’s response to Covid-19.

    The killings last year of Black people at the hands of law enforcement — including George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky — sparked protests that swept the country, drawing more attention to deep-seated racial disparities.

    Biden also has indicated he wants to close the racial wealth gap in the U.S., and his economic team includes officials with experience on that issue. He hasn’t proposed specific policies on how to narrow the gap.

    The coronavirus pandemic has drawn more attention to health and economic disparities that are impacting Black, Latino and Native American populations.

    The end of 2020 brought the sharpest rise in the U.S. poverty rate since the 1960s, and disproportionately affected Black Americans, according to a study released Monday Economists Bruce Meyer, from the University of Chicago, and James Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame. The poverty rate for Black Americans is estimated to have jumped by 5.4 percentage points, or by 2.4 million individuals.

    By focusing on racial discrimination, Biden is taking steps to deliver for the people who helped him win the White House. Black voters in particular helped Biden secure the Democratic party’s nomination and then the presidency in November, as well as two Senate seats for Georgia.

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