Bi-partisan Infrastructure Deal Brings Long-Awaited Justice to Black America, White House Says

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date: August 4, 2021 pauthor=Hazel Trice Edney
By Hazel Trice Edney
( – As America continues to await the signage of President Biden’s $1.2 trillion Bi-partisan Infrastructure deal, White House officials say African-Americans and other people of color will benefit vastly from the bill which is set to pour billions of dollars into urban and rural communities.
“The infrastructure bill is a bill for all Americans. It’s about better roads and bridges; it’s about expansion of commuter rail and public transportation. That’s one area that lots of communities of color are cut away from – the job centers of their states and their areas,” said U. S. Department of Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “So, it’s an opportunity for us to do better connectivity there.”
In addition to years of neglect in Black communities, Walsh said the bill will intentionally work to help undo much of the recent economic, educational, and quality of life damages to communities resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the pandemic; particularly communities of color; the Black community; when kids were learning from home, they weren’t connected to the internet; they weren’t connected to WIFI,” Walsh said.
The President’s infrastructure bill will bring “broadband to all of America – rural America, urban America, poorer communities in our country,” he said. “And it tackles the environment – [bringing] new buses, clean buses. Many of the buses that go through our communities of color now in our country are diesel buses. Pollution is higher, the asthma rates are higher. This is no secret; we know that.”
Walsh concludes, “There’s lots of great investment in this bill for the Black community in this country; but also, for the entire community quite honestly.”
Meanwhile, as 10 senators who negotiated the bi-partisan bill are jointly protecting it from sabotage before Biden gets to sign it, the White House has listed a string of benefits and opportunities that the bill will provide to African-Americans and other communities of color. A White-house issued document; titled, “Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal: Advancing Economic and Public Health Opportunities for Communities of Color”, says “The bipartisan infrastructure agreement will grow the economy, enhance our competitiveness, and make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.”
It continues, “The agreement will also create good-paying, union jobs. With the remainder of the President’s Build Back Better Agenda, these investments will add, on average, around 2 million jobs per year over the course of the decade, while accelerating America’s path to full employment and increasing labor force participation.”
According to the White House document, the bipartisan infrastructure deal:
“Addresses economic disparities in our economy and the consequences of decades of disinvestment in America’s infrastructure that have fallen most heavily on communities of color. Through critical investments, the Bipartisan Infrastructure deal increases access to good-paying jobs, affordable high-speed internet, reliable public transit, clean drinking water and other resources to ensure communities of color get a fair shot at the American dream…These critical investments are first steps in advancing equity and racial justice throughout our economy. The President believes additional investments are needed in our nation’s caregiving infrastructure, housing supply, regional development, and workforce development programs to ensure that communities of color and other underserved communities can access economic opportunity and justice…And, earlier this summer in Tulsa, OK, President Biden announced a whole-of-government effort to increase the share of federal contracts going to small, disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent over the next five years, leveraging the government’s purchasing power to help more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams.”
“Delivers high speed internet to every American household. There is a digital divide in America. Black families are 9% less likely to have high-speed internet than their white peers, and Latino Americans are 15% less likely.”
“Ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet with an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago. This includes a $2 billion investment in broadband in Tribal communities which were hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Helps lower prices for internet service by requiring funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency and helping families comparison shop, and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren’t providing adequate service.”
“Helps close the digital divide by passing the Digital Equity Act, ending digital redlining, creating a permanent program to help more low-income households access the internet, and establishing a new program to help low-income households obtain the devices required to access the internet.”
“Makes the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, replacing all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines. From rural towns to struggling cities, the deal invests in water infrastructure across America, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.”
“Invests in more public transit options and addressing the backlog of repairs. Asian American and African American workers commute by public transit at nearly 4 times the rate of white workers. For example, low-wage Black residents in Chicago spend 70 additional minutes commuting to work than their white peers. In New York City, the average Black resident spends 110 minutes more per week commuting to work than the average white resident. The Framework’s historic investment in public transit – the largest federal investment in history – will reduce commute times and create more economic opportunities in communities of color.”
“Creates a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by inequitable transportation infrastructure.Significant portions of the interstate highway system were built through Black neighborhoods, destroying homes, schools, churches, and parks, and causing lasting disconnection and disinvestment for residents who stayed. More broadly, historic investments in transportation infrastructure, especially highway construction, cut too many Americans off from opportunity, dividing and demolishing communities, and perpetuating economic and racial injustices.”
“Electrifies school buses, improving the air quality for children. The deal will make a critical down payment on helping the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities.”
“Remediates brownfield and superfund sites. Across America, 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for the overall population. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. Recent studies demonstrate that cleaning up these sites can lead to a decrease in blood levels by approximately 13-26%.”
Provides the full American Jobs Plan funding level — $21 billion – to create good-paying union jobs plugging orphan oil and gas wells, cleaning up abandoned mines, and remediating Brownfield and Superfund sites. As we transition to a clean energy future, the bipartisan Infrastructure deal will begin to remedy economic injustice for communities across the country that have relied on the fossil fuel industry and have been affected most by the impacts of climate change and pollution, including rural communities and communities of color.”
“Safeguards communities of color from climate crises and extreme weather risks. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. For example, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Black and Hispanic residents were twice as likely to report lost income. Tribal lands are significantly at risk to the effects of climate change and Alaska Natives are particularly vulnerable, as they face multiple climate impacts.”
“Invests in clean energy grid to mitigate the disparate impacts of pollution on communities of color. Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Native communities are more likely to be burdened by pollution. Black people are almost three times more likely to die from asthma related causes than their white counterparts. And more than one in three — or over 23 million — Latinos in the U.S. live in counties where the air doesn’t meet EPA public health standards for smog.”