Progressive think tank releases racial equity blueprint for federal government

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PolicyLink, a national activist organization that works to end social and economic disparities in the U.S., on Tuesday published its proposal for how the federal government can better implement President Biden’s sweeping racial equity plan.

The goal of the advocacy group, which works closely with a variety of stakeholders, including federal officials, is for a handful of government agencies to adopt its framework foregrounding racial equity moving forward.

“It’s not surprising to us that when a presidential administration comes in and they’re leading in new ways — there’s going to have to be some ramp-up,” PolicyLink CEO and President Michael McAfee told The Hill. 

“We wanted to make sure that the ramp-up to address racial equity could be as smooth as possible.”

The advancement of racial equity has been a key tenet of the Biden administration, with the president signing a flurry of executive orders during the first days of his presidency aimed at promoting it.

Part of Biden’s ambitious COVID-19 vaccination strategy was a focus on creating equity within the distribution process.

And while meeting with the survivors and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre at the beginning of June, Biden outlined a plan to increase federal resources to minority-owned business and strengthen anti-discrimination housing measures that were reduced during the Trump administration.

That said, the racial disparities that persist within the U.S. won’t be solved by quick fixes.

“We’ve seen folks [within the federal government] that are dedicated to racial equity, and so I think that’s the excitement,” McAfee said.

“But what’s needed now are staff, people to be able to look at the disparities, and to say what is needed now to close racial disparities in this nation. … That’s the next leap forward.”

Federal efforts around racial equity have been met with considerable criticism from conservative politicians and pundits, in particular when it comes to teaching critical race theory and systemic inequality.

Last September, then-President Trump issued an executive order banning federal agencies, contractors and grant recipients from conducting diversity training that he deemed “anti-American.”

At the center of many of the trainings was critical race theory, an academic school of thought which asserts the U.S. was built upon racist structures such as slavery, remnants of which are present today and continue to drive inequality and inequity across the country.

Upon taking office in January, Biden reversed the ban, but the issue has only become more of a flash point, sparking outrage among suburban parents and school boards across the country.

McAfee noted that PolicyLink’s job isn’t to “take umbrage” against those who fight against the idea of critical race theory and racial equity.

“Those folks who choose to divide us — by denying history that we know is true — that’s their cross to bear,” McAfee said.

Tags Critical race theory Donald Trump Joe Biden Michael McAfee racial equity racial inequality racial inequity systemic racism

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