Racial Justice

It is a painful truth that America began with the genocide of Indigenous people, expanded through the malignancy of slavery, and continues its economic dominance at the expense of Black and Brown people globally. The pain of this legacy is so profound that even during a deadly pandemic, people are pouring into the streets in anguish, protesting police murders of Black people, lives snuffed out on camera, again, again, again. We live in a country of Muslim bans, mass shootings in black churches, and recent attacks on people of Asian descent as our president racializes a virus that’s killed over 100,000 people in America. White supremacy has always been woven into the fabric of our nation. Until we recognize it and institute policies to be accountable for overcoming it, we will not fulfill our promise as a true and just democracy.

Each and every one of us has a role to play in dismantling white supremacy, in being actively anti-racist, and in demanding accountability from all of our public servants. In my time as mayor of Holyoke, we’ve been able to hire firefighters, City Hall staff and commissioners that reflect the diversity of the city we love. In a city that is 50% Latinx, we’ve increased the percentage of people of color on city boards and commissions from 8% to 36%, and we will continue to improve. And well before the 2016 election, in 2014 I was proud to issue an Executive Order on Immigration prohibiting Holyoke Police from cooperating with ICE officials. Holyoke’s police officers are trained from Day 1 to understand the importance of de-escalation. I am running to fight for a government that reflects the population of our country and that fights for those at the margins, shrinking the outskirts until we are all included. Children of every neighborhood should be able play in their yards safely, families should be able to picnic in public parks happily, and we all must be free to exercise our First Amendment rights of free expression. Young people of color, especially, must be able to look to their government and see themselves reflected there, see that every path of opportunity is open and accessible to them. 

This means racial justice must be a part of every policy we enact and every system we embody.

Support the End Racial Profiling Act: The grotesque results of racial profiling by law enforcement are undeniable. This law would prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement from targeting a person based on race without trustworthy information that is relevant to linking a person to a crime. 

Support Environmental and Healthcare Justice: It is imperative that our environmental policies address the disproportionate health outcomes for communities of color. For decades, communities of color have borne the brunt of environmental disasters, and that impact has been passed physically from generation to generation. Our healthcare policies must cover all Americans equally, supporting underserved communities of color to get the healthcare they need, in their neighborhoods, from providers they trust. 

Close the Racial Wealth Gap: Racial justice is not only about prosecuting federal hate crimes, it also means our federal agencies, grants, and programs must include pay equity across gender and race so communities can build security. I’d be proud to immediately sign on to H.R. 15, the Raise the Wage Act as a first step in that direction. 

Invest in Entrepreneurship: Closing that gap also means supporting people to build wealth for their families. A single payer healthcare system would be a step toward freeing people up to follow their business dreams, and investing federal funds into training programs and grants for new businesses serving Black and Brown people in majority minority communities is critical, especially as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

Reform the Legal System: Our federal agencies must look at the stark realities of mass incarceration for Black and Brown people so we can reform sentencing guidelines throughout our legal system. As Michelle Alexander says in The New Jim Crow, “Discrimination in virtually every aspect of political, economic, and social life is now perfectly legal if you’ve been labeled a felon.” This is true, and this is unacceptable. 

Protect Voting Rights: The right to vote is foundational to full citizenship. It is a right that millions of Americans have marched, fought, and died for. But the GOP has steadily fought to roll back this most basic right. Gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and voting roll purges systematically disenfranchise communities of color and suppress the American promise of representational democracy. These trends were exacerbated by the Supreme Court’s gutting of the federal Voting Rights Act. I will fight to restore and expand the Voting Rights Act and to re-enfranchise millions of formerly incarcerated Black and Brown Americans. Without our voting rights protected, we will never live up to our bedrock promise as a government of, by, and for the people. 

*A People-Centered policing policy will follow

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