By Carlin Ross
WASHINGTON D.C. – President Joe Biden Wednesday signed executive actions in an attempt to address racial injustices involved in housing, private prisons, and the treatment of Asian and Native Americans.
As Rachel Martin describes it in NPR’s Up First, addressing racial injustices was a fundamental promise of Biden’s campaign so it’s been imperative he addresses it right off the bat.
Systemic housing discrimination was one major focus on Biden’s agenda, and his “Memorandum on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies” outlines the premises of the issue.
Evidence of the injustices includes the racial gap in homeownership, the exclusion in housing and mortgage lending, and the creation of the Interstate Highway System that “disproportionately burdened many historically Black and low-income neighborhoods in America.”
In his memorandum, Biden states “many neighborhoods are as racially segregated today as they were in the middle of the 20th century,” noting more than 50 years ago, Congress set the Fair Housing Act in motion … yet today the racial wealth gap is even wider than it was when the Fair Housing Act was enacted.
The President acknowledged the Federal Government’s role in investing in communities of color and enforcing Federal civil rights and fair housing laws.
With a duty to “administer their programs and activities relating to housing and urban development … in a manner affirmatively to further” fair housing, the Federal Government is making an active effort to undo patterns of systemic racism, rather than simply hinder it, he said.
Section 2 of the Memorandum calls upon the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to determine the necessary steps in implementing the Fair Housing Act effectively and without prejudice, to examine the impact of the August 7, 2020, rule entitled “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice,” the impact of the September 24, 2020, rule entitled “HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard, and the impact of the February 15, 2013, rule entitled “Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard.”
Before crafting the memorandum with his new and diverse administration, Biden publicly stated on Jan. 26 that “we are in a battle for the soul of the nation. The truth is our soul will be troubled as long as systemic racism is allowed to exist.”
Carlin Ross is a senior at Santa Clara University who double majors in English and Philosophy. She’s originally from Bozeman, Montana.
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