The Need for a Black Agenda

The Black vote is considered to be a coveted voting bloc in the Democratic Party, and Andrew Yang currently doesn’t have a Black Agenda. Rue Smith, an American Descendant of Slavery, discusses why Yang needs one.

In 2008, I turned 18 and found myself inspired by an African American man speaking of hope and change. I voted for the first time, but by 2012 I was jaded. I felt lied to and swindled for my vote and abstained from that election. In 2016, I didn’t vote either since it was a more of the same. Democratic leadership has led us to the point where we in the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) community only have a tenth the wealth of white households, and we are destined to have an average household wealth of zero by 2053. We need change now, just as we needed it in 2008. But here we are, in the middle of a primary race where black women are lauded as the backbone of the Democratic Party even if there is no Black agenda to merit their vote.

Andrew Yang enters stage right.

A candidate with over 160 policies dealing with almost every aspect of American life and a “Humanity First” campaign of the people, for and by the people. Except ADOS people. Don’t get me wrong—I support Yang. But the glaring omission of a clear Black Agenda that upholds the rights of Native Black Americans, relieves us as the bottom caste of America and truly integrates ADOS people holistically into society—as we should have been in 1866—gives me hesitancy, with a lingering feeling of still not being clearly heard.

Yang’s policies have a Black Agenda of sorts within it and has overlaps with the New Deal as described at But if stitched together like the flag ADOS proudly call our own, it would be the wholesale rebuke of white supremacy and the fundamental change our ancestors should have received after being freed. We had no more than our itching skin, while new white European immigrants began to pour into America and receive millions of acres of land through bills like the Homestead Act. But instead of 40 acres and a mule, newly-freed slaves received nothing, and because of that, for the most part we still have nothing.

This has to be resolved. With ideas like basic banking at local post offices (Black people in certain areas don’t have access to banks) and his willingness to show awareness of the plight of Black America with lines like “I had words used against me, but Black Americans face something more cruel: Numbers” has shown to me a willingness to be a real presidential ally.

That being said, here’s what I consider Andrew Yang’s Black Agenda:

  1. The Freedom Dividend: Every Black American adult citizen (18+) receives a federal stipend of $1000 per month, or $12,000 per year, until the day we die. Land is how wealth is built in America, and Blacks have been systematically excluded. This would be the first step of true economic inclusion of ADOS.
  2. YangCare (public healthcare): This is self-explanatory.
  3. Every Cop Gets a Camera: Cops serve the public, not the other way around.
  4. Marijuana Legalization and Opioid Decriminalization: The failed “War on Drugs” was just a nefarious way to lock ADOS up wholesale for weed. Decriminalizing opiates will also allow black addicts to, finally, seek help and treatment.
  5. Democracy Dollars: Black Americans can vote for politicians of any race and party they feel best represents their interests, whether it be reparations, criminal justice reform or an economic stimulus for small Black businesses.
  6. Paying NCAA Athletes: We don’t want yet another Reggie Bush situation.
  7. Reduce Student Loan Debt Burden: Too many of us fell for that college lie and are now saddled with life-crushing debt.
  8. Supporting HBCUs: This is so Black Americans may continue to be educated at HBCUs across the country to become industry professionals.
  9. Promote Vocational Education: These careers are more stable and less prone to being automated.
  10. Basic Banking at Post Offices
  11. Increased Aid for Single Parents
  12. Fight for Equal Pay
  13. Mandatory Paid Leave
  14. Free Financial Counseling
  15. Free Marriage Counseling: If Black American couples want to stay together, they can.

Finally, the possibility of change. I have genuine hope for my peoples’ future seeing it laid out plain for me to see. Everything at screams a better life for ADOS, but it doesn’t go far enough attain the equity we seek. Black America needs a New Deal. With these kind of actions along with the others gathered at would Black America truly become whole:

  1. We need set-asides for American descendants of slavery specifically and exclusively. That begins with a new designation on the Census with ADOS and another for Black immigrants. Black immigrants should be barred from accessing affirmative action and other set-asides intended for ADOS, as should all other minority groups. Once affirmative action is streamlined as a government program only and specifically for ADOS, the program should be fully reinstituted.
  2. The protections of the Voting Rights Act need to be reinstituted.
  3. We seek a multi-billion dollar infrastructure plan targeting ADOS communities, including but not limited to the Black Belt. A Reuters investigation published in 2016 found 3000 cities with poisoning rates higher than Flint, Michigan.
  4. Residents of majority-ADOS areas like Flint that have been poisoned under the federal, local and state government’s watch must be financially compensated for the benign neglect of the Environmental Protection Agency and the government in general.
  5. We demand an immediate assessment of the ADOS prison populations at the state and federal level. We also demand that there be review if punishment (bail amounts, sentence lengths, amount of time served before parole) is being levied at unfairly high levels on ADOS based on gender and race for similar crimes to other groups.
  6. Audit the banks to see if there are patterns of racial discrimination in lending, and require these banks to extend loans to ADOS businesses. 15% of SBA loans must be distributed to ADOS businesses. Historically, banks such as Wells Fargo used predatory schemes to eviscerate Black Wealth.
  7. Mandate that the government’s advertising budget include Black media. In addition, mandate that 10% of government advertising for governmental agencies, armed forces and other ancillary programs go to majority ADOS-owned media.
  8. ADOS college debt should be forgiven in the same way losses were forgiven for the banks on Wall Street. ADOS graduates bought into the idea that the key to success in life was an education, and there was a place for us in America, only to find after graduation that we were locked out.
  9. Healthcare credit for ADOS to pay for medical coverage, including surgery, pharmaceutical, and counseling needs. In addition, develop a therapy curriculum to help members of the ADOS understand and manage their ancestral traumas.
  10. HR 40 must be passed. We need to gather the data on the level of wealth that was lost as a direct result of slavery and the Jim Crow era that followed. The value of that debt is estimated to be $5-10 trillion.
  11. ADOS demands review of direct payouts be made to eligible recipients from gathered data. Without these measures being instituted, ADOS are locked out of the country our ancestors built the foundations of through chattel slavery. Without reforms through transformative government, we will be left to continue living a third world life in a first world country.

In order to receive the support of ADOS organizations, these basic needs (plus more at have to be met and would also bring potentially millions of votes from many other pro-Black groups.

With all that said, the Poor People’s Campaign towards universal income led to Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination and is currently one major reason for Black Americans to support Andrew Yang. I hope he will give us many more without fear of white backlash because Black lives really do matter.

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