Today in an op-ed for Urban Milwaukee, County Executive David Crowley applauded Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” racial equity plan. Crowley discussed how Biden’s plan would specifically impact Wisconsin, including expanding access to homeownership, supporting minority-owned small businesses, and ensuring everybody has a second chance. Read more below:

Urban Milwaukee: Biden’s Recovery Plan Supports Communities of Color

Events of the last several months have shone a bright light on many of the inequities that persist across our economy and country. Black and brown Americans have suffered and died from coronavirus at rates far higher than white Americans, while the ensuing economic crisis has also disproportionately impacted communities of color.

We are now having a long overdue conversation about systemic racism and how it impacts cities and towns across Wisconsin, including right here in Milwaukee. We know these issues are not new, and change is long overdue.

In Wisconsin, the roots of structural racism are deep-seated. I saw them firsthand as a young, 10-year-old boy when my family lost our home, and today as the first elected Black Milwaukee County Executive. Wisconsin has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the country. There’s a nearly 40 percent income gap between Black and white workers in similar jobs, and Wisconsin has one of the widest gaps in home ownership between Black and white individuals.

We can and must do better.

We need to seize this moment to make a real difference for communities of color. It’s long past time that all Wisconsinites — no matter where they come from — enjoy a fair return for their work and have an equal opportunity to get ahead.

Joe Biden understands what Dr. King once described as the “fierce urgency of now.” Over the course of this past month, Biden has outlined a “Build Back Better” economic recovery plan for America. He knows that if we’re going to truly recover from this pandemic and the economic havoc it has wreaked in our communities, we must tackle the systemic racism that has long held too many people back.

Biden’s plan starts by investing in manufacturing jobs, our infrastructure, caregivers, and early childhood educators. But he knows we can’t stop there — we have to invest in the communities that have been left behind and excluded from real opportunities to get ahead for far too long.

That’s why his housing plan would make bold investments toward homeownership for Black, Brown, and Native families. Biden would create a new refundable tax credit to help families buy their first homes and build wealth. He’d start construction of new homes and public housing units to help tackle the affordable housing crisis. Biden would also work to eliminate racism and discrimination in lending — and reverse Donald Trump’s gutting of fair housing protections. As we continue to experience eviction issues in Milwaukee, he’d create a new Homeowners and Renters Bill of Rights to protect people from abusive landlords.

During this pandemic, we’ve also seen far too many minority-owned small businesses close their doors, including storefronts across Milwaukee. He has a plan to give small businesses owners funds to open back up. He’ll also direct capital to minority entrepreneurs, expand access to low-interest loans, and eliminate barriers for technical assistance to minority small business owners.

Biden will also make sure that every American has a second chance. We all deserve redemption — that includes those who were formerly incarcerated. He will help secure housing upon re-entry and access to treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues. He’ll get rid of existing barriers to re-entry so that everybody can fully participate in our society.

This is about doing what’s right — it’s about building a country where Black and brown families can not only get by, but also get ahead. We have to meet the moment, and Joe Biden will do just that.

David Crowley, Milwaukee County Executive.

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