George Floyd, Educator

“Grief is a heavy burden to bear – and It’s even harder with the eyes of the world watching.” That’s what Vice President Biden said.

Joe Biden went to Houston on June 8 to grieve with the family of George Floyd. You can find some photos of his visit, but he didn’t go there for press attention. He went to Houston to mourn, to express his sympathy and share his compassion with the family for what they lost, for what we have all lost, and what we have learned about George Floyd the man, and what we have learned about ourselves. And what we need to change.

More from Joe Biden: “But that burden is now a purpose – to change the world for the better in the name of George Floyd.”

Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Stephon Clark. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Daniel Prude. And now Jonathan Price. This is a timeline only since 2014. And no doubt there are more.

The death of George Floyd is teaching us the lesson we already knew. And this is one of the reasons Joe Biden is running for President. It’s because he has already thought about what we need to do about it. Winning the Presidency would authorize Biden to fix our inequitable criminal justice infrastructure. Winning by a landslide would empower him to get it done.

Those who can deliver justice are keenly aware of the suffering of victims like Jacob Blake, paralyzed in Kenosha, Wisconsin by police. The pursuit of justice doesn't yell. It soothes. It reaches out. Jacob Blake Sr. said that when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris called him to ask about his son, they spoke on the phone for an hour. “It was like talking to my uncle and one of my sisters.”

Vice President Biden has a far-reaching plan to help our Black community so that they no longer face the disparities that continue to fester within the way our government works. George Floyd’s death has made us all confront once again that justice is not always just to the Black community.

A foundation of Joe Biden’s plan is to reduce systemic racism within the criminal justice system. In poll after poll, we see that Americans know that our systems are unfairly administered. Our polling is clear: we already know what’s wrong. And we want to make America work equally for everyone. Joe Biden has proposed enacting solutions for our biggest problems in criminal justice as a whole. Among the many proposals:

  • Creating a $20 billion competitive grant program to encourage states to prevent and reduce incarcerated populations.
  • Addressing systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices.
  • Investing in public defenders’ offices.
  • Eliminating the death penalty and mandatory minimums.
  • Ending the federal crack and powder cocaine disparity.
  • Decriminalizing the use of cannabis and ending incarceration for drug use alone.
  • Ending cash bail and private prisons.
  • Investing $1 billion per year in juvenile justice reform.
  • Partnering mental health experts, social workers, and other advocates with police departments to reduce incarceration for those needing only social services.
  • Ending racial and ethnic disparities through evidence-based criminal justice policies.

What do all these criminal justice issues have in common? The system’s victims are disproportionately Black. And Joe Biden has always looked out for those who have been left out of the America in which we believe.

The disparities don’t end with what happened to George Floyd. It isn’t only the criminal justice system that takes a deeper toll on Black Americans compared to everyone else.

How about entrepreneurship and income? The Center for Responsible Lending estimated that more than 90% of minority-owned businesses have been shut out of the initial COVID-19 relief program, because we have systemic disparities in our lending practices that have been allowed to endure. At the same time, this same community lacks the financial cushion of their white counterparts for the present and holds much less in savings for retirement in the future.

One study of the 2016 election found, using cell phone location data, that voters in predominantly Black neighborhoods waited 29% longer than voters in white neighborhoods, and 79% more likely to spend more than 30 minutes at their polling place. Why do so many long lines and broken voting machines seem to be in the majority-Black districts? Can you feel like an equal citizen when it appears that you are routinely disenfranchised?

Even COVID-19 itself is ravaging the Black community at rates exceeding the rest of the population. A virus doesn’t vote, and it doesn’t know about politics, but most of that inequity comes from our failures as a society to meet the needs of African Americans at the level taken for granted by whites.

Black Americans are more likely to be uninsured. They are more likely to live in communities exposed to high levels of air pollution, which exacerbates health issues. And in our frightening COVID environment, African Americans are often the ones employed to serve their neighbors and their extended communities, keeping them safe, keeping them fed, and caring for the sick. A report published in April by McKinsey found that Black Americans are overrepresented in “nine of the 10 lowest-paid, high-contact essential services.” They’re out there, exposing themselves to a disease that is more likely to kill them than others, taking care of all of us.

We all know this. We need to make our caregivers as safe as we can. Everyone deserves equal treatment and equal opportunity. At long last, our society, through competent governing, needs to get this accomplished. We’re Americans, and that’s what we do for each other.

“We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation”, Biden said on August 27, 2017. George Floyd, and too many others, are breaking through our consciousness, finally, to fix the inequities that make our Black brethren’s lives more fragile than the rest of America’s. Let’s win this battle by electing Joe Biden on November 3.