By Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
As a Black woman and former mayor of Baltimore, a predominantly Black city, I know firsthand the inequities and challenges that Black women face every day in America. They are the backbone of this country, but from economic opportunity to access to affordable, quality health care, Black women are coming up short in this country. I also know – as a leader who worked with the Obama-Biden Administration – what it means to have partners in the federal government that care about its people, including Black communities.
For four years, President Trump has denied, refuted, and ignored disparities for Black people in our country. His mismanagement of this pandemic has made these disparities worse. And at a time of crisis, he is dividing the country, stoking racial tensions, and cuddling up to white supremacists in his effort to stay in office. It is shameful and scary.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, on the other hand, are willing to name these disparities and have comprehensive plans to address them. Both their Lift Every Voices Plan for the Black community and women’s agenda name the disparities that exist and then take them on to build America back better, especially for Black women.
We know that Black women have never had a fair shot to get ahead. Black women are working every day to support their families and move this country forward, but in so many ways, they have been left behind economically. Leveling the playing field begins with equal pay for equal work, because we will never catch up if we are working as hard or harder than white male counterparts but not earning equal pay for that work. Biden will sign into law the Paycheck Fairness Act so that we can close this pay gap once and for all. The Biden-Harris ticket will also invest in and provide mentorship for women-owned small businesses, expand access to education and training, and strengthen pay and benefits in careers disproportionately filled by women, such as early childhood education.
A Biden-Harris Administration would also tackle long-standing racial health disparities. Not only will Joe and Kamala effectively contain COVID-19 and ensure that testing, treatment, and an eventual vaccine are free and available to everyone, but they’ll build our health care system back better with a new public option. They’ll also work to reduce the maternal mortality rate, which is so critical because bringing a life into this world should not mean risking your life for African American women.
Joe and Kamala will work to ensure Black women and their families have access to quality education. The Biden education plan begins with investing in children’s education at birth and will establish universal pre-kindergarten. The plan also invests in America’s public schools and offers students pathways to meaningful careers, including through community college without debt. It offers free public college to families earning under $125,000 a year, provides for public college student debt forgiveness, and makes a $70 billion dollar investment in HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions.
Additionally, the childcare and caregiving crisis that was exacerbated by COVID-19 showed what many Black women already know to be true. Women overwhelmingly bear the burden of childcare, housework and caring for elderly, sick or disabled family members. This means that women are more likely to drop out of school or the workforce entirely to serve as caregivers. Joe Biden will expand access to affordable child care and paid family leave, and invest in our caregivers, who we know are more likely to be women and women of color.
It’s time for a president and vice president who listen, care, and respond to the challenges facing Black America. That’s Joe and Kamala. But it won’t happen unless we show up at the polls and make our voices heard, so please make your plan to vote early at iwillvote.com.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was the youngest person ever elected to the Baltimore City Council. She then served for six years as the mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, the second woman in history to hold that office. She has also served as secretary of the Democratic National Committee and as president of the United States Conference of Mayors.