Year 1 Advice: Listen to Young People, Uncle Joe & Sis VP Harris

Jan 20, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

January 20, 2022

Today officially marks one year since President Joseph Biden saved our country from the absolute tyranny of the Trump administration alongside the first Black and Indian American Woman to serve as Vice-President. Despite one of the most INSANE presidential elections in our lifetime with navigating COVID-19, Millennials and Gen Z turned out in record number, proving that we are a critical and pivotal voting bracket. As we reflect one year later with Uncle Joe and Sis VP Harris, there have been some quasi wins, but the sense of urgency to include and amplify the voices of youth and young adults has been significantly left behind. Here are 3 ways the Biden-Harris Administration can improve engagement with Black, Latinx & Indigenous Millennials and Gen Z’s.

Make a Decision to Forgive Student Loans…PERIODT!

Black Women, the most educated voting base in the country, are especially hit hard by student loan debt adjacent to other debilitating issues such as the Black Maternal Health Crisis, climate change…listen, the misogynoir is REAL. According to a 2021 report from the The American Association of University Women, Black women carry about 20% more student debt than white women do. Researchers estimate that one year after graduation, white women owe $33,851 in undergraduate loans, on average, while Black women owe an average of $41,466. [Source] Additionally, Black women and other historically disenfranchised communities experience the financial burden of other environmental injustices such as energy burden and the lack of access to weatherization programs and solar energy. For example, in 2021, a report by the Sierra Club says “residents of Black and Latinx neighborhoods in Milwaukee spend a far greater share of income on gas and electric utility bills, with advocates calling for debt forgiveness and empathy.”

One of the top issue areas for Black and Latinx voters was student loan forgiveness. I wish we could be like “We did it, Joe”, but WE DID NOT in year one. If the administration can continue to extend repayment dates, why are we unable to cancel this debt! We already know congress and the senate are the banes of our existence, but Uncle Joe and Sis VP Harris, can you flex and lean on that good ol’ executive power and deliver on what you said? Channel some of that energy from our good sis, Nene Leaks…

Giphy | Bravo

One of the top issue areas for Black and Latinx voters was student loan forgiveness. I wish we could be like “We did it, Joe”, but WE DID NOT in year one.

We Have An Environmental Justice Advisory Council with Minimal Youth & Young Adult Engagement

March 2021 was a historic moment as our Founder CEO & President LaTricea D. Adams became the youngest African American woman AND K-12 educator to be appointed to the inaugural White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC). As the only Black childbirthing person, Adams engaged over 11 national and local organizations to inform the WHEJAC recommendations. Some of the critical focus areas were Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, Maternal Health, and inclusivity of K-12 educators and youth as it relates to workforce development and general environmental education. Also, in alignment with the existing National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) and the nod and support from the new EPA regime, a recommendation was made to establish a youth version of the WHEJAC. While the Biden-Harris administration made a historical commitment to lead water and paint remediation with the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, there are extreme areas of growth as it relates to creating spaces for youth and young adults as we prepare for a green economy. With Baby Boomers FINALLY retiring, that leaves Generation X, Millennials (who make up the largest group in the workforce outside of Boomers) and the newcomers, GenZ. How is it that the US needs approximately 700,000 jobs to effectively implement the Biden-Harris clean/green jobs initiative, but we are not centering the voices of K-12 educators, youth and young adults? MAKE IT MAKE SENSE, UNCLE JOE AND SIS VP HARRIS!

Surprisingly, there has been little to no momentum with the WHEJAC recommendations as it relates to Maternal Health, even after a major year in 2020 and 2021 with attention on Black Maternal Health, and VP Harris (one of the founders of the Black Maternal Health Caucus) establishing the first Maternal Health Summit and Maternal Health Day of Action. AGAIN…MAKE IT MAKE SENSE! We can’t talk about mommies, without amplifying the needs of our other most vulnerable population, children. We applaud the Biden-Harris administration for calling out a decades-long issue regarding childhood lead poisoning that goes beyond the Flint Water Crisis and the Baltimore Lead Paint Crisis, but there are other environmentally induced threats to children such as poor air quality, lead in consumer products and even baby food, and a plethora of factors that didn’t seem to make lead-way in year one of the Biden-Harris Administration. Do you believe the children are our future for real, or nah?

Giphy | Coming to America

Surprisingly, there has been little to no momentum with the WHEJAC recommendations as it relates to Maternal Health, even after a major year in 2020 and 2021 with attention on Black Maternal Health, and VP Harris (one of the founders of the Black Maternal Health Caucus) establishing the first Maternal Health Summit and Maternal Health Day of Action.

The Senate Was a Hater on Building Back Better

One of the most unconscionable tragedies of year one for the Biden-Harris Administration is what appears to be the failure of the Build Back Better Act. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill was a win, but the GOP and moderate Dems (**cough** Manchin **coughcough** Sinema) maintained a status quo of prioritizing personal agendas instead of advocating for the best interests of Americans. Not to give the Senate (or congress) a pass, but we already knew what it was. We knew that the razor thin gap between the aisle in the Senate was going to be exhausting just like what we are seeing with this nasty filibuster to protect voting rights. If we already know this, Uncle Joe and Sis VP Harris, why did we bet so much on our already raggedy senate? Listen, at the end of the day, regardless of who’s fault it is, America is losing.

Spider-Man Pointing at Spider-Man | Know Your Meme

Where Do We Go From Here?

In the words of adored Afro-latina music artist Cardi B, “If it’s up, then it’s up, then it’s up, then it’s stuck”. We are year #2 in COVID with “omarion” wreaking havoc…Black men still being unlawfully accosted and murdered by police…extreme, catastrophic weather negatively impacting our already crumbling infrastructure, KARENS…it can ONLY be up from here. But, Uncle Joe and Sis VP Harris, LISTEN TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE! From our now ancestor Congressman John Lewis to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it has been the voices of young people that have sparked revolutions. Minnie Pearl and Earl n’ dem aren’t going to be here when climate claims the lives of future generations. Listen and ACT on the demands of our youth and young adults…YALL are the one’s borrowing the planet from us right now. In two words…DO BETTER then you can BUILD BACK BETTER!

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *