On the 100th anniversary of the massacre of Black citizens by a racist mob in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Biden administration released details on new programs intended to reduce the long-standing racial wealth gap in America.
The White House plan focuses on building wealth for Black families by boosting minority-owned small businesses and expanding access to homeownership. One initiative aims to increase federal contracts with minority-owned small businesses by 50%, which the administration says would translate into an extra $100 billion in revenues for those businesses over five years. A second initiative seeks to reduce racial discrimination in the housing market, with Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge leading a task force examining zoning laws and lending practices.
In addition to the initiatives announced Tuesday, the White House said it will reverse rules made by the Trump administration that weakened protections for minorities provided by the Fair Housing Act.
Targeted spending in infrastructure plan: The White House also highlighted ways that Biden’s infrastructure proposal, the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, would benefit minority racial groups. Administration officials said that a $10 billion community revitalization fund included in the proposal would target historically underserved areas such as Greenwood, the neighborhood in Tulsa destroyed a century ago. The proposal also includes $31 billion for investment in minority-owned businesses, while historically black colleges and universities would share $46 billion in new funding with other schools that serve minority populations.
A long and painful history: In a statement, the White House drew a straight line from the infamous racial violence in Tulsa a century ago to the current low levels of wealth in Black households and communities. “Because disparities in wealth compound like an interest rate, the disinvestment in Black families in Tulsa and across the country throughout our history is still felt sharply today,” the document says. “The median Black American family has thirteen cents for every one dollar in wealth held by White families.”
Still, some Black leaders expressed concerns about the White House plan, and what it leaves out, with the NAACP criticizing the lack of student loan forgiveness. “Student loan debt continues to suppress the economic prosperity of Black Americans across the nation,” NAACP president Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “You cannot begin to address the racial wealth gap without addressing the student loan debt crisis.”
The White House plan is also silent on the issue of reparations, which some Black leaders have advocated.