More progress, please
3/2/2023, 6 p.m.
2022 was a year of progress.
President Biden nominated the U.S. Supreme Court’s first Black female justice, who is now one of nine on the nation’s highest court.
Maryland elected its first Black governor.
And landmark legislation became law, including the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act that made lynching a federal hate crime and the Respect for Marriage Act that extended federal protections for interracial marriage.
Continued progress would be lovely this year.
Our community wants the government to do more to confront white supremacy.
A poll found 43 percent of Black voters want President Biden to declare attacks like the one in Buffalo, N.Y., last year in which a gunman targeted Black shoppers a natural security threat, while 33 percent want white supremacy labeled a national security threat.
The issue is significant because, according to the FBI, members of our community are more likely to be victims of hate crimes. The Pew Research Center reported last year that one-third of Black adults worry almost every day that they might be threatened or attacked because of their race.
An NAACP survey found 44 percent of respondents believed racism and discrimination to be the most important issues facing the Black community today, resulting in fewer job opportunities, more economic insecurity, less adequate health care and efforts to suppress voting.
Voting rights also remains a major concern for Black voters, though fortunately less in Virginia where the ability to cast ballots remains easier than in many other states.
Still, federal laws, like the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act that would restore protections and expand access to the ballot box, remain stalled due to Republican opposition.
More than two years after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., led to nationwide calls for police reform, there’s been little progress on enacting federal police reform. In Richmond, the creation of a citizen oversight panel also seems to be moving at a snail’s pace.
Democrats in Congress have argued that GOP legislation did not go far enough, while Republicans say Democrats want to go too far.
It’s another significant issue within our community, with 72 percent of Black Americans supporting major changes to police forces, according to a Gallup poll.
President Biden has been on top of another major issue, providing debt relief on college loans.
On average, Black graduates, whose families generally have far less wealth, graduate with $52,726 in debt, compared to their white counterparts who on average with $28,000 in debt, according to the White House, graduate with the disparity in debt increasing when it comes to graduate degrees.
But the president’s plan to forgive $20,000 in student debt has been challenged and is now before the Supreme Court, with a decision expected by June.
These are just some of the issues that our community would like to see progress on in the coming weeks and months. Are you listening elected officials?