It’s been an emotionally charged Black History Month. Black Americans are still reeling from the Tyre Nichols’ video release at the end of last month, depicting five cops brutally beating 29-year-old Nichols to death.
And while the sentencing of the white supremacist shooter in Buffalo will hopefully bring peace to the victims’ families, it’s also opened up old wounds and fears for many in the Black community. The onslaught of attacks on Black history from Republican lawmakers like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis certainly isn’t helping anything.
Amid this tumultuous moment, President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that he was signing an executive order “advancing racial equity.”
“By advancing equity, the Federal Government can support and empower all Americans, including the many communities in America that have been underserved, discriminated against, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality,” wrote Biden in the Executive Order. “We can also deliver resources and benefits equitably to the people of the United States and rebuild trust in Government.”
What Does Biden’s New Executive Order Do?
On its face, advancing racial equity is a noble goal. But what does Biden’s executive order actually do to achieve it?
For starters, the executive order doubles down on existing goals of rooting out discrimination in employment, housing, education, and voting rights, as well as a host of other sectors.
The executive order also lays out some new policies. It creates a new “Agency Equity Team” within federal agencies. The teams are required to “coordinate the implementation of equity initiatives and ensure that their respective agencies are delivering equitable outcomes for the American people.”
In addition to the agency equity teams, the White House will create a new White House Steering Committee on Equity.
Transparency is a huge part of Biden’s new equity strategy. The executive order requires government agencies to increase their communication with “underserved communities” by proactively reaching out in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways.
For folks who run businesses, there’s also something for you in the order. The order cements an increase in federal funds to small and “disadvantaged” businesses.
What Has Biden Done For Black Americans So Far?
This executive order isn’t Biden’s first initiative targeting Black Americans and other minority groups. In January, The Root reached out to political experts to figure out how Black Americans have faired during the Biden administration.
Black political experts pointed to Biden’s nomination of 25 Black judges to the federal court, the confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, making Kamala Harris his VP, and his efforts on student debt relief, as signs Biden was making good on his promise to Black Americans.
“The soul of the Biden administration is Black, Black, and female,” David Dixon, a Political Science Professor at Howard University, told The Root. “The energy in the Biden-Harris administration is being directed back to his Black constituents.”
At the same time, experts pointed out the high inflation rates, which have disproportionately impacted Black Americans, as signs, among other failed policy goals, that he still has a ways to go.
How Will Biden’s Executive Order Play Out?
Biden’s executive order has been in place for roughly 24 hours. So it’s a little too soon to start analyzing results.
But as we wade through the rest of 2023, it’ll be worth keeping a very close eye on this new commitment to engaging with marginalized communities and whether our voices are better represented in this second half of Biden’s term.