As Prepared For Delivery:
It is an honor to join this summit and have the opportunity to speak with you. It is a true privilege to get to share space with the amazing women leaders represented here today. Thank you to the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation for the invitation. The Black Women’s Roundtable is so vital in these times—events like this help us recognize our own power reflected in the stories of others.
They also remind us that we can only do so much alone. We all need a group of sisters to push us and lift us up along the way.
I want to say a particular word of thanks to Melanie Campbell. Melanie, your leadership is unparalleled, and your tireless service and advocacy have done so much to elevate the voices and stories of Black women. Any table shared with Melanie is a power table. She is a force to be reckoned with. Thank you for creating the space to bring us all together.
It is a unique time to reflect on the strength and power of Black women. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the depths of our resilience. Despite huge pain and loss, despite overwhelming obstacles, Black women continue to get the job done – putting food on tables, leading major companies, making medical breakthroughs, winning elections, and reaching new heights of creativity – all in the shadow of a global pandemic.
And yet, it is impossible to ignore the devastating impact of COVID-19:
- Black Americans are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans.
- Nearly 1 in 10 Black Americans is currently unemployed;
- An estimated 40% of Black-owned businesses have closed because of the pandemic;
- And roughly 1 in 5 Black households are struggling with food insecurity.
You can’t fix structural inequity with one-size-fits-all policies. President Biden knows this. He made clear from the start that equity was going to be at the center of his agenda.
As Domestic Policy Advisor, I have the privilege of helping execute that agenda across the entirety of our government. We have assembled a first-rate team to drive this effort forward and hit the ground running.
On Day One, the President signed an Executive Order directing each federal agency to embed racial equity across its policies and programs. There is tremendous support throughout the Administration to ensure we enact changes that match the urgency of this moment.
The American Rescue Plan, which the President signed into law just two weeks ago, is all about meeting the needs of this moment.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will help us defeat the virus, safely reopen schools, and build back better. But the Rescue Plan is more than just a response to COVID-19. It is a generational investment in communities that for too long have been overlooked.
The American Rescue Plan will boost the income of millions of workers, including 2.7 million Black workers, through expansions of the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits. The vast majority of direct payments and tax credits in the plan go to families making $90,000 or less.
To address the lack of quality health care across communities of color, the American Rescue Plan expands Community Health Centers and invests $20 billion in improving vaccine equity so that our communities receive the public health response they deserve. It also expands subsidies for the Affordable Care Act. Four out of five enrollees will soon be able find a plan for $10 or less per month. Tell everyone you know: now is the time to head to Healthcare.gov and get covered.
The American Rescue Plan will drive capital to minority-owned and small businesses in underserved areas through a dedicated Small Business Opportunity Fund, seeded with an initial $10 billion. This crucial assistance will help Black businesses that have struggled so mightily during the pandemic. This is on top of more than $50 billion that will expand the Paycheck Protection Program and provide aid and support to small businesses across the country.
The American Rescue Plan lifts up our families, providing $40 billion in direct assistance to reduce child care costs and expand access to affordable early childhood education. It also incentivizes higher wages and better benefits for childcare workers, 40 percent of whom are women of color.
In total, the American Rescue Plan is projected to cut poverty for Black families by more than a third. Across the nation, it will cut child poverty in half by the end of 2021, a direct investment in our nation’s future.
Everyone here who showed up to the polls, who organized their friends and neighbors, who made sure every voice was heard and every vote counted – you helped make this happen. Thank you.
The American Rescue Plan is the foundation of an equitable recovery, but there is so much more work to do. We are witnessing an unprecedented assault on the right to vote. We face an uphill battle to pass even overwhelmingly popular gun safety laws. We continue to seek justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and too many others who have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement. We simply must see the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act become law.
Make no mistake: the path before us is long and it is difficult, but my pledge to you is that we will not shy away from these challenges. We will continue to make the federal government accountable for advancing equity for families across America.
From Reconstruction to the Civil Rights era to the 2020 election, Black workers, families, and voters – especially Black Women – have never stopped pushing this country forward and demanding that we live up to our highest ideals. May their struggle galvanize us, may their perseverance inspire us, and may their courage embolden us to keep marching forward as we continue this work together.