Nearly 60 years after the Civil Rights Act, the condition of Black people in America is better in many respects. However, in terms of income, wealth, education, infant mortality, home ownership, incarceration, health, and life expectancy, they still lag behind the rest of the population.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. believes that this unacceptable situation is the result of the unhealed legacy of racism in this country. We must take direct action to remedy it — not only for the sake of Black people, but for the wellbeing of the entire nation. He will appeal not to guilt and blame, but to the conscience of Americans of all races who want to repair the wounds of history. Here are some of the policies he will adopt to accomplish it.
1. Targeted Community Repair
Communities that were specifically targeted for destruction need to be specifically targeted for repair. During Jim Crow, Black banks, businesses, hospitals, schools, and farms were targeted for destruction. Racists knew that without these, the Black community had no chance of building wealth. We must set federal dollars aside to rebuild Black infrastructure.
Targeted Community Repair will be available to devastated communities across the country, not just Black. The criteria will be around need, not skin color. However, because there are so many Black communities in need, this program will channel significant resources toward the rebuilding of these most devastated of communities.
2. Prison reform
RFK Jr. will undo the legacy of the 1994 crime bill that disfavors African Americans. He will seek early release for nonviolent offenders. He will reorient the prison system around rehabilitation rather than punishment. His policy will be tough in the sense of keeping violent people where they can do no further harm, but generous in recognizing the fundamental desire of most human beings to live meaningful lives and contribute to society.
3. Police reform
Kennedy will reorient police to serve, not occupy, Black communities; to keep neighborhoods safe rather than harassing their residents. The federal government will work with localities to change police culture, with pro-community incentives, training in de-escalation, and cooperation with neighborhood organizations.
4. Working class / working poor
Because Black people are disproportionately represented among the working class, RFK Jr.’s policies to uplift working people will disproportionately help the Black community. These include a $15 minimum wage, tax credits, childcare subsidies, and home-buying programs. Federally-backed 3% mortgages will extend home ownership to millions of Black families.
Black children bear the brunt of the shameful decrepitude of the schools in the cities and inner suburbs. RFK Jr.’s policy team is looking at ways to revive these schools while also supporting parents to choose other options.
Addiction afflicts all ethnic groups in America, but is especially devastating in conjunction with the unique legacy of racism and trauma faced by Black people. RFK Jr. will launch a nationwide network of low-cost or free addiction healing centers on organic farms available to anyone who sincerely wants to heal.
In America’s most devastated communities, many of them heavily Black, young people have few pathways and little hope to escape their situation. RFK Jr. will expand youth programs to make them available to every young person who wants to learn skills while serving society, the environment, the sick, the elderly, and so on.
8. Free ID for all American citizens
Today, many marginalized people lack a government-issued ID, locking them out of the banking system, schools, and many other social institutions. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will make free passport cards available to any American citizen who wants one.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., believes that all of these policies can be accomplished only by uniting Black and White working people in conscience and compassion. He seeks to inspire a spirit of common cause, that recognizes that no one can thrive when many are left out.
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