Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has released his Douglass Plan for a Comprehensive Investment in the Empowerment of Black America, with the goal of the “comprehensive and intentional dismantling of racist structures and systems” through “intentional and affirmative investment of unprecedented scale in the freedom and self-determination of Black Americans”.

Buttigieg explains the need for the plan: “It remains morally and economically incumbent upon America to fix what our policies consciously and deliberately wrought over centuries….After the accumulated weight of slavery and Jim Crow, America cannot simply replace centuries of racism with non-racist policy; it must intentionally mitigate the gaps that those centuries of policy created.”

The Douglass Plan calls for:

+ creating an interagency National Health Equity Strategy that “will prioritize anti-racism”, “undergirded by the belief that quality health outcomes should be the norm for every American, regardless of race, place, income, or even access to health care”

+ designating and funding Health Equity Zones to address communities’ most pressing health disparities

+ addressing the underrepresentation of Black Americans in the health workforce and training the current health workforce to combat bias – especially racial bias – when treating patients

+ issuing new regulations to diversify the teaching profession

+ investing in college students’ futures by making public college tuition-free for lower income students and ensuring the lowest income students can cover living costs without taking on student debt by increasing investments in the Pell Grant program

+ cancelling the debts of borrowers in low quality, overwhelmingly for-profit student loan programs

+ increasing by $25 billion investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions

+ raising the minimum wage to at least $15/hour

+ supporting career mentorship, employee resource groups, and peer support groups and initiatives across multiple industries and occupations; convening White House Summits on equal employment opportunity by sector

+ appointing Cabinet Secretaries, presidential appointees, and White House staff that include Black Americans and reflect the diversity of America; appointing Black Americans and other people of color to Presidential commissions, task forces, and advisory bodies

+ creating the federal Madam CJ Walker-Reginald Lewis Initiative, including investing up to $10 billion in entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, providing a debt-for-jobs plan for those who start businesses that employ at least 3 people, establishing a goal of awarding 25% of federal contracting dollars to small business owners from underserved communities, and super-charging investments in minority-held community development finance institutions (CDFIs) through the Community Reinvestment Act

+ launch a public trust – a 21st Century Community Homestead Act – that would purchase abandoned properties and provide them to eligible residents (resident in the local area for at least three years earning less than the area median income the past five years, or a current resident of a historically redlined or racially segregated area) while simultaneously investing in the revitalization of surrounding communities

+ expand enforcement of environmental protections and invest in solutions to environmental threats in communities of color and to working families who face disproportionate health effects from pollution, tainted water, and inadequate infrastructure

+ reducing the number of people incarcerated in the U.S. at both the federal and state level by 50% by doubling funding for state criminal justice reform, pre-trial reforms, decarceration, and expansions of alternatives to incarceration; eliminating federal incarceration for drug possession, legalizing marijuana, and expunging past convictions; eliminating mandatory minimum sentences; establishing an independent clemency commission to commute sentences; abolishing private federal prisons, eliminating the for-profit bail industry, capping fines and fees, and eliminating incarceration as punishment for failing to pay financial debts

+ supporting a constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty and reducing over-reliance on solitary confinement

+ ensuring that people who are incarcerated have access to education, health care, and rehabilitation, including Pell Grants and Medicaid; and that those released have access to education, jobs, housing, and health care, including support for ban the box initiatives, increasing tax credits and bond insurance for employers who hire formerly incarcerated people, and lifting barriers to accessing housing credits and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

+ proposing a 21st Century Voting Rights Act that will use every resource of the federal government to end all types of voter suppression, expand voting access, and create a democracy where the rights of each citizen no longer depend on the color of their skin, the community they live in, or for whom they want to vote

+ expanding access to the ballot through online and same-day voter registration, making registration portable within states, early voting, vote-by-mail, and making Election Day a national holiday

+ giving full political representation to the people of the District of Columbia, including one Congressperson and two Senators

+ replacing the Electoral College with a National Popular Vote, ending the artificial dilution of power of minority communities, especially Black Americans living in southern states

+ fixing the harm caused by a politicized and inaccurate Census count

+ fighting discriminatory racial and partisan gerrymandering by ensuring Congressional redistricting is conducted by independent, statewide commissions using fair and non-discriminatory rules

Importantly, the plan clarifies that “[i]n committing to a comprehensive plan that focuses on Black Americans, the goal of the Douglass Plan is not to ignore the specific histories and experiences that have impacted other communities of color in the United States….racism is not a black and white issue…we also need to address the unique challenges facing other communities of color – from Native communities confronting poverty and dispossession, to the Islamophobia impacting Middle Eastern, Arab, and South Asian communities, to dehumanizing immigration policies that stereotype Latinos and overlook their vital contributions to our economy and society. America’s racist structures were built to justify and perpetuate slavery, and by achieving greater equity for Black Americans, we lay the groundwork for achieving greater equity for other people of color as well….The Douglass Plan is a specific plan for Black America – but it also establishes a deep and solid foundation for racial and economic justice for all communities of color and for all Americans.”

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