2020 Issue Focus: Racial Justice

Who We Listen to on Racial Justice

On racial justice issues, we follow the lead of Black and brown activists who have been doing the work to organize against racism for decades. Black Lives Matter is a movement that has engaged in direct action to protest police brutality, poverty, environmental racism, and more. Color of Change is committed to fighting racial injustice in criminal law, media, democracy, and technology. They’ve been an essential voice for fighting mass incarceration and ending cash bail. On issues related to the racial wealth gap and economic equity for marginalized communities, we look to the experts at Prosperity Now and the Demos. Prosperity Now provides tools and organizing to join the fight for economic opportunity, and Demos focuses on analysis and informed debate on policy.

Why Racial Justice Matters for 2020

America was founded with racial injustice built into its very framework, and our government has been slow—often outright opposed—to acknowledge or undo that legacy. Mass incarceration, police brutality, and the racial wealth gap are the direct result of institutional racism in the United States, and uphold systems of white supremacy that need to be abolished to achieve safety and security for people of color. Democratic candidates need to address the problems faced by Black and brown communities by having a race-forward approach to social and economic policy in this primary. That means recognizing the urgency of these issues, and understanding the harm endured by impacted individuals and communities. Donald Trump will run on open racism and appeals to white supremacists; our candidate must run on anti-racism and reconciliation if we want to heal wounds, motivate voters, and win.

What Candidates Should be Talking About on Racial Justice

  • Ending mass incarceration, which is inhumane and directly connected with the legacy of slavery

  • Ending cash bail, which punishes individuals for being poor and disproportionately harms communities of color

  • Working to combat the economic impacts of systemic racism by addressing the racial wealth gap, through policies that target inequality in areas like housing, education, and intergenerational wealth

  • Criminal justice reform that targets institutionalized racism in our criminal justice system and individualized racism in agents of our justice system

  • A commitment to hiring leadership from black and brown communities on their campaign staff and in their eventual administration

  • Rejection of the drug war and plans to free and compensate prisoners arrested for nonviolent drug offenses

  • Reparations for slavery in the U.S. and atrocities committed against Native peoples

Who’s Getting it Right on Racial Justice

  • Senator Warren is leading the pack on solutions to addressing the racial wealth gap, incorporating race-forward proposals in her policies on democracy, criminal justice, and middle-class protections.

  • Senator Booker has a strong record on criminal justice reform and has made it a central pillar of his campaign. He has also pushed to fight the racial wealth gap with his “baby bonds” proposal.

  • Secretary Castro was the first major candidate to call for formal studies to implement reparations.