The long American story of racism, discrimination, and Jim Crow laws is shameful. Though some important reforms have been made, there is still much more work to be done to address institutional racism that still exists.
George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were senselessly murdered because of shortcomings in the American criminal justice system. Unfortunately, their stories are common to Black Americans as many in their community lose their lives or experience discrimination and police brutality simply because of the color of their skin. Only by enacting corrective policies can we begin to revitalize the vital role that police play in keeping our communities safe.
We have a lot of work to do as a nation to identify and erase systemic racism so all Americans will be equal, regardless of the color of their skin. The pleas of the protestors for equity, respect, and justice cannot fall on deaf ears. Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked tirelessly to advocate for all—especially Black communities that are forgotten about all too often.
We must holistically address systemic racism in our country. The Black community has faced unfair obstacles for years in areas such as health care, education, voting rights, criminal justice, and much more. During my time in Congress, I have supported several bills aimed at working towards racial equality.
Most recently, I supported H.R. 7120 George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to ensure better and more just policing while also stopping the senseless deaths of Black Americans. Additionally, I supported H.R. 4179, No Federal Funding for Confederate Symbols Act which ends the use and presentation of Confederate symbols on any federal public land or property, a step towards reconciling our history as a nation.
As we look to our healthcare system, the Black community clearly is not given the same level of care. In 2017, 10.6 percent of Black Americans were uninsured compared with 5.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites—an unacceptable disparity. I supported H.R. 6142, Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which aims to fix the staggering disparity of maternal mortality between Black mothers and white mothers. It is unacceptable that black women are dying at a significantly higher rater then other because they are not given the proper treatment and care while giving birth. I also supported H.R. 1185, the FAMILY Act which ensures every individual has access to family and medical leave insurance benefit payment for a specific period of time, in order to allow people to utilize leave insurance if needed.
We know that young Black students are often not given equal access and resources to a quality education. The color of your skin, where you grew up, or financial barriers should not be a barrier in receiving a high-quality education. That is why I supported H.R. 4674, College Affordability Act, which increases Pell Grants, incentives states to fund public universities and colleges, and addresses the student loan crisis. Additionally, I secured $10 million for Historic Preservation Grants for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) like Hampton University and Norfolk State University. We also must work to get good teachers into areas that have struggling school systems, which is why I supported H.R. 5350, Diversify Act, which increases the TEACH program which gives grants to college students who teach in low income areas after graduating.
Combating the systemic racism in our country will not be easy, but rest assured that I am working every day in Congress to advocate for the Black community.
See below for press releases pertaining to my work on the issue of racial equality.
Raise the Wage Act
Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020
Justice in Policing
George Floyd Statement
Renaming bases named after Confederates to honor those who fought against the Confederacy
Black Maternal Mortality