White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the government he now leads needs to change its approach to addressing racial equality. Then he signed four executive orders that he hopes will be a good start. The orders include ending contracts with private prisons and acknowledging the role government played in creating unequal housing opportunities. 

“We must change now,” the president said. “I know it’s going to take time, but I know we can do it. And I firmly believe the nation is ready to change. But government has to change as well.”

The order to phase out private prisons comes from Biden’s old boss, former President Obama, who first adopted the policy. Biden said private prisons have a financial incentive to keep incarceration levels high, the opposite goal of his administration. But some said the order would have a limited impact, given that private prisons hold just 9% of the population and that the Trump administration signed 10-year contracts with private prisons.  

The orders also urge the government to take a hard look at how past administrations contributed to racial bias in housing and, perhaps as a result, advance the nation’s fair housing laws. The four orders have an overall goal of establishing an administration that hopes to make real and significant change in addressing systemic racism. Alicia Garza of Black to the Future Action Fund said the orders “are a floor to set and not the ceiling.”

Biden’s domestic policy adviser, Susan Rice, said the president’s orders reflect his desire for federal agencies to place equity at “the core of their public engagement.” Rice said the orders could also address poverty and other social issues, noting that the average Black family has one-tenth of the wealth of the average white family. 

“Advancing equity is everybody’s job,” she said.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Biden to Sign Executive Orders for His Racial Equity Agenda. So Can We Still Talk About the Crime Bill or Nah? – The Root – 1/26/2021
In 1994, Joe Biden helped craft the federal crime bill, which would lead to the mass incarceration of Black folks. We can argue all day about whether the crime bill, which would become the first federal “three strikes” law, disproportionately targeted toward Black folks. Hell, we can even argue if it led to the mass incarceration of Black folks, but it did and I’m right.

White House Cites Economists’ Claim That Fixing Racial Inequality Could Add $5 Trillion To The Economy In Next Five Years – Daily Caller – 1/26/2021
Rice opened Tuesday’s White House press briefing by speaking on the executive orders Biden will sign Tuesday afternoon, claiming that Biden’s policies will make “the American dream real for families across the nation by taking ambitious steps to redress equality in our economy.”

For Black Americans, the middle class has always been a mirage – Vox – 1/26/2021
Among Dee’s friends, talking about money is considered impolite. But that’s not really what stops her. “Most of my peers are white,” she says, “and I get very angry about the systemic inequality evident in our situations, and their seeming obliviousness to it.”

Biden’s racial equity executive order push is another effort to undo four years of trauma – AL DÍA News – 1/26/2021
President Joe Biden signed a series of executive actions revolving around “equity” policy on Tuesday, Jan. 26. His agenda is focused on police reform, prison reform, public housing and advancing racial equity and support for “underserved” communities.

 Just as we score policies’ budget impact, we should score for racial equity as well – Brookings – 1/25/2021
Among his first acts in office last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to advance racial equity, declaring that the nation must take a “a systematic approach to embedding fairness in decision-making processes.”

Biden Orders Justice Department to Phase Out Use of Private Prisons – Reason – 1/26/2021
In the grand scheme of the U.S. criminal justice system, the order will not have a significant impact. State prison systems hold the majority of the roughly 2.3 million incarcerated people in the country. And of the federal prison population, only 15 percent are held in private prisons.

What You Should Know About The Exec Orders Biden Just Signed To Advance Racial Justice And Equity – Blavity News & Politics – 1/26/2021
President Joe Biden has hit the ground running and immediately began tackling issues of discrimination and injustice less than a week into his presidency. Among the 17 executive orders that he signed on his first day in office were ones set to examine racial equity in the federal budget, ending the Muslim travel ban and scaling back some of Trump’s harsh immigration policies. On Tuesday, Biden turned his attention directly to racial inequality and signaled his intention to “take action to advance racial equity” with an early morning tweet. 

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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