Celebrating Black History Month and Creating a Path Forward

For Immediate Release
Monday, February 7, 2022
Contact: Lily Morris, lmorris@azdem.org

Celebrating Black History Month and Creating a Path Forward

PHOENIX –– This Black History Month, we are celebrating the contributions of Black Arizonans while recognizing the constant inequities and systemic racism that Black Americans experience every day. Too often throughout our history, the Black community has borne the brunt of our shortcomings, most recently pandemic related hardships due to this systemic racism, and it is our commitment to try to mitigate those effects through constructive policy. While we want to recognize this progress, we also recognize there is still much more to do.
Components of the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, while helpful for all Arizonans, will help black communities specifically in several ways:

Reversing Decades of Disinvestment: For far too long, neglect of our country’s infrastructure has disproportionately impacted communities of color. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will tackle this by replacing lead pipes, increasing access to good-paying jobs, expanding affordable high-speed internet, providing reliable public transit, delivering clean drinking water, and reconnecting Black neighborhoods divided by legacy highway infrastructure.

Improving Health Outcomes: President Biden’s American Rescue Plan increased affordability and access to health care coverage for historically uninsured communities – improving opportunities for equal access to health care during and beyond this pandemic. From the ARP, 360,000 uninsured Black Americans became eligible to save money for health care coverage. 

Creating Economic Opportunity: The ARP provided cash relief directly to low- and middle-income Americans and has cut Black child poverty by 30.2%. In October 2021 alone, the ARP lifted more than 1 million Black children out of poverty across the country. This critical pandemic relief also increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15% through September 2021. From the rescue plan, President Biden reduced food insecurity in Black households – which nationally had been double the rate of white households.

Supporting Black-Owned Businesses: Under the new administration, the Small Business Administration has loaned record amounts of money to minority owned businesses and has made equity a priority. Through the SBA’s core lending programs, $959 million has been loaned to Black business owners as well as another $106 million through its 504 lending program. 

Ensuring Equitable Education: The American Rescue Plan provided hundreds of billions of dollars to ensure that students were able to safely remain in school, while also investing in education at every level – protecting low-income elementary and secondary schools from future disproportionate funding cuts and increasing funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Equitable Covid Response: The American Rescue Plan included funding to improve outreach for and access to vaccines in communities of color, an effort that zero Republicans supported. In January 2021, President Biden created a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to provide specific recommendations for mitigating the health inequities caused or exacerbated by this pandemic and for preventing such inequities in the future.

Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration and Democrats in Congress are doing other necessary work including:

Redefining Criminal Justice: President Biden is working to reform our criminal justice system at the federal level, implementing new bans including the use of chokeholds and carotid restraints – except where force is necessary. He has also pledged not to renew contracts for privately-operated prisons and appointed more Black women to the U.S. Court of Appeals than any other administration in history.

Honoring Juneteenth: President Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth, a day we remember the emancipation of slaves in the United States and reaffirm our commitment to equality, a federal holiday.


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