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Biden-Harris Administration unveils plan to build black wealth and narrow racial divide 

Earlier this month, on the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Biden-Harris Administration unveiled their plan to build black wealth and narrow the racial wealth gap in the United States. 

A history of systemic racism in the United States has contributed to the large wealth gap that people of color currently face. Systemic racism, also referred to as structural or institutional racism, is defined as “a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity,” according to the Aspen Institute. Systemic racism is not something “a few people or institutions choose to practice.” It is ingrained in our social, economic, and political systems and has adapted over time. It identifies the parts of our history and culture that have historically privileged “whiteness” while subjecting people of color to unjust disadvantages. 

Historically, systemic racism has impacted the ability of Black Americans to secure afforable housing, education, health care, and employment due to unjust biases and discrimination. A study by Citigroup found that in the past 20 years alone systemic racism has cost the U.S. a whopping $16 trillion

The Biden-Harris Administration’s new plan will take measures to address the key issues impacting Black wealth in efforts to close the racial wealth gap and build back Black wealth. 

Adam Schultz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Biden-Harris Administration to build back black wealth 

In a detailed press release, the Biden-Harris Administration outlined key areas their plan will tackle. The plan will: 

  • Take action to address racial discrimination in the housing market, including by launching a first-of-its-kind interagency effort to address inequity in home appraisals, and conducting rulemaking to aggressively combat housing discrimination.
  • Use the federal government’s purchasing power to grow federal contracting with small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent, translating to an additional $100 billion over five years, and helping more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

Attitudes and policies that undermine equal access are the root of the racial gaps plaguing U.S. society (Source: Citi Research).

Additionally, the Administration plans to create jobs and build wealth in communities of color through various initiatives that will help support small minority owned businesses including: 

  • A new $10 billion Community Revitalization Fund to support community-led civic infrastructure projects that create innovative shared amenities, spark new local economic activity, provide services, build community wealth, and strengthen social cohesion.
  • $31 billion in small business programs that will increase access to capital for small businesses and provide mentoring, networking, and other forms of technical assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged businesses seeking to access federal contracts and participate in federal research and development investments.
  • $15 billion for new grants and technical assistance to support the planning, removal, or retrofitting of existing transportation infrastructure that creates a barrier to community connectivity, including barriers to mobility, access, or economic development.
  • A new Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit to attract private investment in the development and rehabilitation of affordable homes for low- and moderate-income homebuyers and homeowners. 
  • $5 billion for the Unlocking Possibilities Program, an innovative new grant program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take steps to reduce needless barriers to producing affordable housing and expand housing choices for people with low or moderate incomes.

You might be interested: Black History Month: Steps toward dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. 

Investing in Black-Owned Small Businesses 

Access to capital and resources are common struggles many small business owners face, but the struggle is greater for Black small business owners who must go through the extra hurdles set in place by discriminatory racial biases. 

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Through two key measures the Biden-Harris Administration will work to address these disadvantages. 

Using the Government’s purchasing power to drive an additional $100 billion to Small Disadvantaged Business Owners: The federal government is the largest consumer of goods in the world, buying everything from software to elevator services to financial and asset management, Federal procurement is one of our most powerful tools to advance equity and build wealth in underserved communities. And yet, just roughly 10 percent of federal agencies’ total eligible contracting dollars typically go to small disadvantaged businesses (SDB), a category under federal law for which Black-owned, Latino-owned, and other minority-owned businesses are presumed to qualify. Increasing federal spending with these businesses will help more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams and help narrow racial wealth gaps. 

At its center is a new goal: increasing the share of contracts going to small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2026—translating to an additional $100 billion to SDBs over the 5-year period. To achieve this goal, agencies will assess every available tool to lower barriers to entry and increase opportunities for small businesses and traditionally-underserved entrepreneurs to compete for federal contracts. The impact could be historic: all told, attainment of the new goal will represent the biggest increase in SDB contracting since data was first collected more than 30 years ago.

Invest $31 Billion to Scale Up Efforts to Support Minority-Owned Small Businesses: Too many small businesses owned by people of color struggle to access loans and federal programs that can help them grow and succeed.  President Biden has proposed a historic effort to tackle these persistent challenges and empower small business creation and expansion in communities of color. Specifically, the President’s American Jobs Plan will invest $30 billion in new Small Business Administration (SBA) initiatives that will reduce barriers to small business ownership and success.  These initiatives will increase access to capital by establishing a new direct loan program for the smallest businesses, developing new loan products to support small manufacturers and businesses that invest in clean energy, and launching a new Small Business Investment Corporation that will make early stage equity investments in small businesses with priority for those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The American Jobs Plan will also invest billions of dollars in SBA technical assistance programs that incubate and offer mentoring and technical assistance to 8(a) firms, reinforce the American subcontracting network to create pathways to prime contracting, encourage Fortune 500 firms to diversify their procurements, and bring more socially and economically disadvantaged businesses into federal research and development programs.  These investments will also include an innovative new $1 billion grant program through the Minority Business Development Agency that will help minority-owned manufacturers access private capital.

Through these efforts, Black-owned small businesses will have greater opportunities to realize their dream and goals. There is still much work to do before the longstanding effects of systemic racism are fully eradicated, but the plan unveiled by the Biden-Harris Administration is a first step in the right direction toward building back black wealth and narrowing the racial wealth gap and achieving equality in the United States. 

regain our power

2020 Hispanic Heritage Month: Hermanas, time to regain our power

Dear hermanas, this 2020 Hispanic Heritage Month, it is time to regain our power!

As mothers, daughters, sisters, most of us carry the burden of our families, looking after our children, caregiving for our families and relatives, and making sure everyone has a roof over their head and food on their table. Now, we call you to step up and regain our power to take care for our Latinx community. Are you with us? 

Latinas in Business Inc. will be turning 6 years old. We launched our initiative in a time of HOPE, and CHANGE we could believe in. We knew we were GREATER TOGETHER because we were BETTING IN AMERICA.

Unfortunately, in the last four years, we have seen our American Dream vanished, our Latino community bullied, and now we are living the loss of our loved ones due to this horribly handled pandemic by the Federal Administration.

regain our power

Photo credit: Kalea Morgan Unsplash

As a non-profit organization, we do not proclaim or endorse any political candidate or party. However, we are calling YOU to regain our power, our Latino power. We are encouraging you to take the bull by the horns, to step up and to say enough is enough.

In many conversations, I hear people saying, “I hate politics,” or “I’m not into politics,” or even, “politics is dirty or corrupt.” All these statements might be true but when you do not want to get yourself involved in YOUR OWN AFFAIRS, in the everyday events that are affecting your life, your family and your future, then, AMIGA, we have a problem.

Politics is a word from Greek: Πολιτικά, politiká,  that meant ‘affairs of the cities’ -according to Wikipedia.  The Greeks used to get associated to make decisions in groups, and to define the power relations between individuals for distribution of resources and representation in society.

So, if you don’t get political, and take charge of making decisions about resources and representation,  how much power do YOU have left?

We have to talk “sin pelos en la lengua.” We cannot “dejar que nos pasen por encima” or “lavarnos las manos.” We have to “ponernos los pantalones” and to get into action YA to regain our power!

COVID-19 crisis “sin pelos en la lengua”

Tyson Foods installed protective plastic divisions between workers to prevent spread of coronavirus (Photo Courtesy Tyson Foods)

  1. Have you or someone in your family, relatives or friends have faced this terrible disease? Do you feel it was in your power to prevent or avoid that death or illness?

Due to COVID-19, 194,000 people have died in the US and other 6.5 million people have become ill with the virus, without knowing the long-term consequences of the disease. Following misleading information from the Federal Government, the disdain of many made the virus a political flag, and little or no resources were offered, especially in minority communities. As usual, inequality takes its toll in our “hermanas” y “hermanos.”

“For low-paid employees whose work is rarely if ever glorified — the people who clean the floors, do the laundry, serve fast food, pick the crops, work in the meat plants — having the jobs that keep America running has come with a heavy price. By the odd calculus wrought by the viral outbreak, they have been deemed “essential.” And that means being a target. Along with blacks, Latinos have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in California and other parts of the United States, becoming infected and dying at disproportionately high rates relative to their share of the population. Health experts say one of the main reasons Latinos are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 is because many work in low-paying jobs that require them to leave home and interact with the public,” said the LATimes.

Sign this petition to both Houses of Congress: Protect Latinos and other Minority Essential Workers Dying from COVID-19.”

 

You might be interested: Poultry farms and Latino workers at the forefront of COVID-19

 

regain our power

Photo credit: Dan Burton – Unsplash

  1. Have you lost your job and you are waiting for financial help from the Federal Government? Is it in your power to find a new job and restart your life? Do you have the power to turn the table around and provide for your children?

Since the pandemic began, 69 million people are facing poverty, hunger and despair, a situation that couldn’t have been prevented such as other countries did. If you are one of them, you lost your job, or you are facing eviction, or simply do not know how to feed and sustain your family. Moreover, many people have lost their health insurance due to the loss of jobs.

According to Reuters, the largest increases of jobs shed were seen among Asians and Latinos. In the beginning, both Whites and African Americans saw their rates rise at the same pace as the national rate, although the unemployment rate now for blacks – at 6.7% – is 65% higher than for whites at 4%.

The leisure and hospitality sector -a sector where many Hispanics work- shed 459,000 jobs – 65% of all the positions lost in March. The largest share of that came at restaurants and bars, which slashed 417,000 jobs.

Sign this petition to both Houses of Congress: “Request additional financial assistance for families who lost their jobs by no fault of their own”

 

deportations

Photo credit: Nitish Meena-unsplash

  1. Has any member of your family have been deported? Are you a DREAMER holding your breath to know if your life will be able to continue in this country?

In addition to hundreds of thousands broken families, the economic costs to American society from mass deportations are in disproportion to the economic benefits that Latinos bring to the US economy.  While direct costs to taxpayers is about $70 billion in enforcement agents, detention facilities, immigration judges and transportation,  the Center for American Progress estimates that approximately $4.7 trillion is lost in economic productivity,  nearly a trillion dollars in lost tax revenue over the next decade, while the conservative American Action Forum calculates some $2.6 trillion in lower GDP over 10 years, according to Unidos US.

The increase in apprehensions has come as a growing number of migrants seek asylum. The demographic profile of those crossing the border has changed, too: People traveling in families, not single adults, accounted for the majority of those apprehended last year (56%). And most of those apprehended were from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, countries that have struggled with violence and a lack of economic opportunities.

Sign this petition to both Houses of Congress: “Stop massive deportations that hurt the regional economies and break immigrant families that are looking for asylum from violence and lack of economic opportunities.”

 

children in detention, regain our power

Demonstration in Elizabeth NJ (Photo credit Chris Boese -unsplash)

  1. Do you think it is fair to have our Latino children in cages, although it is known that being held in detention can be traumatic for children, putting them at risk of long-term physical and emotional damage? Do you feel you have the power to prevent or help these children find a happy return to their families of origin?

Last year, the government reported there were 69,550 migrant children held in government custody, enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium. Over all, about 2,500 immigrants in ICE detention have tested positive for the virus.

A spike in detention of migrant children crossing the U.S. southern border and separated from their families is threatening to overwhelm the systems set up to care for them. It has also reinvigorated debate over the detention of minors.

The Trump administration has called the influx of asylum seekers—both adults and minors—a “national security threat.” Critics, including many in Congress, say the administration’s response is exacerbating a humanitarian crisis in Central America, breaking U.S. law, and violating international human rights norms, according to The Council on Foreign Relations.

Sign this petition to both Houses of Congress: “Free ALL children held in detention centers or deportation hotels who are victims of abuse and negligence.”

 

business closed, regain our power

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema-unsplash

  1. Are you at risk of losing your business? Do you feel empowered to prevent or avoid the closure of your business? Do you think you have enough tools and resources, and financial support to survive a situation that is out of control, and could have been prevented?

Hispanic immigrant business owners face significant exposure from the coronavirus-induced economic downturn. They accounted for 51% of all Hispanic-owned businesses in 2016, shares similar to the percentages of Hispanics who are immigrants. They are now closing their businesses at a staggering rate.

Historically, there are racial and gender inequalities in business ownership. Nationally, people of color represent about 40% of the population, but only 20% of the nation’s 5.6 million business owners with employees. The U.S. could have millions more businesses if women and minorities became entrepreneurs at the same rate as white men.

Now, with the COVID-19 crisis, millions of “missing businesses,” are facing a massive potential disruption and some risk permanent closure. However, for the Federal Administration and Congress, there is not the same urgency to address COVID-19’s impact on minority-owned small businesses. It has already been established and built up over decades that these business DON’T COUNT, reflected in the lack of access to capital and resources.  However, it is also established that closing these disparities would result in the creation of millions of new small businesses and bridge the gap in unemployment and the economy.

You might be interested: NJ Sen Menendez pushes bipartisan Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act

US Senator Menendez, who proposed a bi-partisan legislation for automatic forgiveness of small businesses’ PPP Loans said, ““Struggling Small businesses in New Jersey that received PPP loans to stay alive during the pandemic should not face a mountain of paperwork and a complex, time-consuming, costly, bureaucratic process just to find out whether or not they have to pay it back.” And he continued, “We need small businesses to succeed. We need to allow them to focus their limited resources on keeping their business open, hiring and serving their communities. That‘s why I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation to forgive all PPP loans of $150,000 or less. This legislation covers some of our smallest, most vulnerable neighborhood businesses and they deserve the financial help we promised.”

Sign this petition to both Houses of Congress: “Request immediate forgiveness for small businesses who received PPP Loans of $150,000 or less, and are suffering the most in this pandemic and economic crisis.”

regain our power

Photo credit: Rachael Henning-unsplash

“No dejemos que nos pasen por encima.” We need to regain our power!

When was the last time you felt you had any power in making a decision about your future, your job, your income, your health, your immigration status, or any other important matter to you, your family and your community?

Personally, I feel that every part of my life that is important to me depends more and more on my own actions, loading on my own shoulders if I succeed or fail, and having the constant doubt if I can do enough for my family and my community.

This is what the American Dream has become for Latinos and many others in this country, an enormous propaganda machine that constantly tells YOU that you are a failure if you don’t provide for your family, that YOU have to be self-made and self-sufficient or you are a loser, and that you are a criminal or a rapist if you came to this country to find better opportunities.

But where are those opportunities if you don’t have the power to make your own decisions, being constantly harassed and discriminated?

“No podemos lavarnos las manos,” we need to regain our power.

What can YOU do to regain your power?
  1. Sign these petitions to both Houses of Congress: Latinos and other minority families are many of the essential workers that have been hit the most with the pandemic. Increase protection to these essential workers that are dying at a higher rate than any other population.
  2. Get counted on the Census! Every person in this country needs to be counted, documented or undocumented. Your immigration status IS NOT INCLUDED in the information requested.
  3. Apply for citizenship immediately! If you have a “green card,” you are not safe until you are a citizen in this country. Thousands of immigrants were deported for minor traffic violations and misconducts.
  4. If you are a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE NOW!

HERMANA, GET POLITICAL!

What would you call a person who doesn’t care about their family, their well-being, or their community?  If YOU care about your future, and YOU still believe this country can provide you and your family with security and opportunities, then YOU must act now!

As mothers, daughters, sisters, most of us carry the burden of our families, looking after our children, caregiving for our families and relatives, and making sure everyone has a roof over their head and food on their table. Now, we call you to step up to take care for our Latinx community and regain our Latino power.

Let our Senators know that Latinos are waiting for answers to their concerns: financial help, jobs, protection for our children, healthcare, an immigration process that makes sense, and the right to live in freedom and in safety.

Our lives are not a political game that can be played to gain votes for the election. Our lives are real, and our needs are many. So, let’s regain our power! “A ponerse los pantalones” and stand up for what we want and what we need!

Hermanas: Yes, we can!   Sí se puede!

You might be interested: Why Latino economic power is greater than political representation