The White House on Tuesday unveiled steps intended to narrow the wealth gap between Black and white Americans, as President Joe Biden is scheduled to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre.
Ahead of Biden’s afternoon speech in the eastern Oklahoma city, the White House announced it will grow federal contracting with small, disadvantaged businesses and launch a first-of-its-kind interagency effort to address inequality in home appraisals, among other steps.
The policies aimed at helping minority small businesses and expanding homeownership come a century after one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history. On May 31, 1921, a white mob burned and looted a neighborhood known as Black Wall Street. In about 24 hours, an estimated $1.47 million — or more than $20 million in today’s dollars — of Black-owned homes and businesses were destroyed.
Biden on Monday proclaimed May 31, 2021, to be “a Day of Remembrance: 100 Years After the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.”
The White House says its effort to expand federal contracting will translate to an extra $100 billion over five years, “helping more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams.”
Also included in the initiatives are new details about Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, called the American Jobs Plan. The president is proposing a new Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit to attract private investment in developing or rehabilitating homes for low- and moderate-income buyers.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson reportedly told Politico on Monday that the Biden administration is going in the right direction toward closing the wealth gap. However, he was critical of lack of movement on student-loan forgiveness.
“Until we address the student-loan debt crisis, which disproportionately impacts African Americans, we can never get to the question of home ownership, therefore accumulating wealth,” he said.