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Black Voters Pleased by Juneteenth Holiday, But Want More Substantive Legislation

By Manny Otiko, IVN

Nationwide — President Joe Biden relied heavily on the support of black people to ride into the White House. About 90% of Black people voted for the Democrats. This is not unusual. The Democratic Party usually receives the majority of the Black vote. However, former President Donald Trump tried mightily to get the Black vote. He often lamented that Black people didn’t vote for him despite all he’d done for them.

“I’ve done all this stuff for the Blacks—it’s always Jared telling me to do this,” said Trump, according to an upcoming book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender. “And they all f—— hate me, and none of them are going to vote for me.”

But most Black people were motivated to vote against Trump because of his white nationalist policies and the fact that he largely ignored the coronavirus pandemic. Black people died at a much higher rate of the coronavirus than white people, mainly because they worked in front-line jobs that required them to be in contact with people. The Trump administration’s attitude was to tell front-line workers to get back to work and keep producing products. This was seen in their refusal to allow front-line workers in the meatpacking industry to sue their employers.

And according to former Trump insiders, such as Michael Cohen, Trump has a long history of making racist comments about African Americans. For example, he is alleged to have frequently used the n-word on the set of “The Apprentice.” Holly Robinson Peete, a former contestant on the show, claims she witnessed him saying the word.  

However, some Black people are already beginning to wonder if they are getting adequate feedback for their support of Biden and Democrats. For example, Biden recently named Juneteenth as a federal holiday. And that’s good, but some Black commentators feel that more substantive legislation around weighty issues, such as gun control, criminal justice, and racial inequity, is needed.

“‘It’s great, but it’s not enough,’ said Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Kansas City. Grant said she was delighted by the quick vote this week by Congress to make Juneteenth a national holiday because ‘it’s been a long time coming,’” according to The Associated Press.  “But she added that ‘we need Congress to protect voting rights, and that needs to happen right now so we don’t regress any further. That is the most important thing Congress can be addressing at this time.’”

Some Black commentators point to the speed at which Asian-Americans received legislation on hate crimes. For example, during the coronavirus pandemic, Asian-Americans were the subject of racist attacks. The situation was compounded by Trump, who called the disease “the China virus.” This violence started in 2020, but Democrats were able to push through the legislation within a year.

Rumblings about the lack of product from Democrats only prove the party can no longer take Black voters for granted. But with the GOP openly embracing white nationalism and pushing voter suppression laws around the country, Black voters don’t have much of a choice.

On Tuesday, Republicans killed a bill that would have largely overturned voter suppression laws and other problems with the voting system.

However, the Biden administration is still in its early days. According to news reports, Biden is considering eliminating laws that punish crack possession more harshly than cocaine possession. This legislation was written by none other than Biden himself and helped contribute to the mass incarceration of Black men.

“The Biden administration endorsed legislation Tuesday that would end the disparity in sentences between crack and powder cocaine offenses that President Biden helped create decades ago, a step that highlights how his attitudes on drug laws have shifted over his long tenure in elected office,” said The Washington Post. “For Biden, supporting the bill is a follow-through on a campaign promise and a step toward fulfilling it. As a candidate for president in 2020, Biden pledged to support eliminating the sentencing disparity, which critics have said unfairly hurts African Americans. But he did not always feel that way. As a senator in 1986, Biden crafted the bill that enacted steep differences in sentencing. He disavowed it 16 years later.”

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