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Photo: Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
National leaders want Biden's racial equity efforts to be sustained. Photo: Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

National racial equity coalition calls on Biden administration to create a White House Office on Racial Equity and Inclusion

The Racial Equity Anchor Collective is in support of some of the reforms made so far, but wants sustained commitment from the new U.S. president for real…

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It is no secret that racial identity and justice in the United States is becoming increasingly relevant. Issues of race seep into every institution, including health care, education, the workforce, the justice system and more. 

The U.S has been contending with a deadly virus that disproportionately impacts people of color, historic protests for racial justice that manifested on a global scale in the Summer of 2020, and now, the new presidential administration is taking steps to confront systemic racism

The Racial Equity Anchor Collective, a diverse coalition of national racial justice and civil rights organizations that represents and serves more than 53 million citizens, is driving a movement to embolden government leaders to place racial equity efforts at the leading edge of their policies, practices and operations. 

In December, the coalition outlined the role of a White House Office on Racial Equity and Inclusion in a memo to President-elect Biden’s transition team. 

In the memo, the coalition suggested that this proposed White House Office should take actions such as fostering partnerships across agencies, and collaborating with the Office of Management and Budget and Domestic Policy Council to conduct racial equity assessments on policy measures. 

Once again in the new year, the coalition is calling on President Joe Biden to establish a White House Office on Racial Equity and Inclusion, centered on the administration’s promise to “heal the soul of our nation.” 

The trauma that needs addressing:

The soul of this nation is in critical need of racial healing. communities of color have suffered almost three times as many deaths to COVID-19 as white communities. 

Cambodian-Americans are considered among those of highest mortality risk due to the overcrowded housing and intergenerational living, their employment as essential workers, and elevated rates of underlying conditions such as diabetes, PTSD and hypertension.

Unemployment rates for those of Black, Asian and Latino descent have also soared to about 15% and the unemployment rate for Indigenous Americans is mirroring the impact of the great recession.

Black and Latino businesses have been closing at alarming rates, and during 2019, hate crimes have risen to their highest level in more than a decade. 

The scales of power, wealth and influence and who has access to them needs to be balanced and more fairly aligned. 

The U.S government also needs to compensate and make amends for the ways in which they shaped the conditions of Black, Latino, Indigenous, Pacific Islander, Alaskan and Hawaiian Native communities. 

Vice President Kamala Harris has made history as the first Black and Asian-American woman to hold the position, and Biden has pledged to appoint “the most diverse cabinet in history.” 

Moreover, the Biden-Harris Build Back Better plan places much emphasis on racial equity in its objective to build a stronger future for all Americans. 

The Racial Equity Anchor Collective endorses this progress, but stands firm in the understanding that historical injustices cannot be overcome without sustained commitment and shifts in institutional infrastructures. 

What the leaders are saying:

“In 2020, the world experienced a historical chapter of reckoning with how systemic racism permeates throughout civil society. We call on the Biden-Harris administration to lead the country with a whole of government approach with the charge of dismantling institutionalized racism, tackling the deep rooted inequities that exist for communities of color, while also uplifting and celebrating the resilience and brilliance of the diversity our communities represent,” said Juliet K. Choi, CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

“A White House office dedicated to racial equity and inclusion will focus that pursuit [of justice] and enable us to mobilize our considerable energies across all avenues – social, economic, legal and political – to create a justice oriented framework for governing and creating a country that is inclusive and celebrates the diversity of all its residents,” remarked Reverend Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action.  

“The path forward may be difficult, complicated and contested, but it is essential to pursue. Creating an office within the White House to coordinate the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to reduce racial inequality in all of its forms is a crucial first step toward ensuring that our country lives up to its core shared value of equal opportunity for all Americans,” declared Janet Murguia, president of UnidosUS

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