‘We don’t want to wait on study’: Biden adviser vows to start acting ‘now’ on systemic racism

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Gustaf Kilander
·2 min read
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Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden greet each other as Biden arrives at Columbus Airport on 27 October 2020 in Columbus, Georgia ((Getty Images))
Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden greet each other as Biden arrives at Columbus Airport on 27 October 2020 in Columbus, Georgia ((Getty Images))

The director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and senior adviser to President Joe Biden has said the administration will make progress on breaking down barriers for African Americans caused by systemic racism while a commission is formed to study reparations.

Cedric Richmond told Axios that the White House will "start acting now" to address the issue.

Mr Biden gave his support on the campaign trail and again in mid-February to plans to form a commission to study reparations and develop proposals such as direct payments to African Americans, the Associated Press reported.

Congress heard testimony last week on the legislation. Mr Richmond told Axios: "I think that [creation of a commission] will pass."

Mr Richmond said it wasn't possible to outline a timeline for the commission but added: "If you start talking about free college tuition to [historically Black colleges and universities] and you start talking about free community college ... I think that you are well on your way."

He said: "We have to start breaking down systemic racism and barriers that have held people of colour back and especially African Americans. [W]e have to do stuff now."

Mr Richmond emphasised the need for quick progress. He said: “We don’t want to wait on a study. We’re going to start acting now."

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Legislation has been put forward repeatedly by Democrats in Congress since 1989 to create a commission to study reparations. Interest increased after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the following racial justice protests last summer, The New York Post reported. While reparations have been debated for decades, no tangible results have come of it.

In early February, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Mr Biden “certainly would support a study of reparations,” adding: “He understands we don’t need a study to take action right now on systemic racism, so he wants to take actions within his own government in the meantime.”

Mr Richmond noted that Mr Biden already has acted with one of his many executive orders, noting that the order breaks down "barriers in housing, making sure that African-Americans can pass down wealth through homeownership, that their homes are not valued less than homes in different communities just because of the neighbourhood it's in".

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