African American Family reading together

Congrats on the infrastructure bill. Now pass police reform and other Black priorities

On Friday, the House passed the infrastructure bill that will build roads and bridges, employ lots of union workers, and give Democrats something to hang their hat on in the next election.


And they’ll need it, because the party got drilled last week—losing the governor’s race in Virginia, and almost losing the governor’s race in New Jersey—the same state where a Republican won a city council race after dressing in Blackface, and another won a state senate seat after putting Islamophobic posts on social media.


I mean, Republicans encouraged people to storm the capital. People died, and Democrats still can’t beat them in big national races. And they don’t seem focused on the folks who got them into office.


Which brings me to the infrastructure bill. The $1.2 trillion price tag sounds impressive, and while rebuilding bridges, roads, and utilities are great, how many Black people are going to get those jobs? And if we don’t get them, will they go to the same building trades unions that’ve spent decades keeping Black people out?


Progressive lawmakers of color were skeptical and voted against the bill, saying party leaders reneged on a promise to pass it along with social spending and climate change legislation.


Representative Ayanna Pressley’s statement explained why. “I refuse to choose between the livelihoods of the union workers who build our highways and bridges, and the childcare and healthcare workers who care for our children, elderly, and disabled loved ones … I refuse to pit community member against community member.”

But we’ve already put one community’s interests over another. The question is, what do we do next?

Because if it’s not police reform or voting rights, if it’s not free community college, paid family leave or better health care, Black people aren’t getting what we want. And we wont stop pushing until we do.
Photo: African American Family By. Penn State

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