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Dear Mr. President-Elect: A wishlist for Joe Biden from Milwaukee’s Black community

To begin with, congratulations on your overwhelming victory in the popular vote. I would like to present to you my wishlist for your first term as President.

This list may not necessarily match your priorities but that doesn’t really matter. The list is in someways quite selfish I must admit. But since it is a wishlist it can be unaligned with what you may wish for. They are not necessarily in order by priority. One last thing. This is not an exhaustive list. I will send an update after your first 100 days.

NUMBER ONE: Tell less lies to us than your predecessor. I think you would agree that this should be exceptionally easy. I understand that all Presidents lie because it comes with the job. I won’t hold that against you.

NUMBER TWO: Stop telling us you want to unite the country. I don’t want you to unite with the racists that have come out of the woodwork over the past four years. Instead I ask you to rebuke them in the strongest possible way and tell them that America does not have a place for them. Your predecessor promoted racism for four consecutive years allowing these racists to raise their voices and profiles. Do the opposite. He did not create the division we see, he simply promoted it and gave racist ideas room to flourish. Please spend your energy on those who believe in basic fairness and equity.

NUMBER THREE: Walk the walk, don’t talk the talk. Most who understand how politics works knows that campaign promises are not really real. They are designed to get support for your platform and gain votes. Your platform was full of rosy language, but rosy language rarely leads to policy based on the history of the previous 45 men that have served in your position. We don’t need more political rhetoric after you take office. We need actions that lead to the changes we want to see.

NUMBER FOUR: Stop talking to Black people as if you are an honorary Black person. You are not. Watch your tone when you speak to us. I heard your recent Zoom call with Black leaders recently. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. We helped you win this election and demand respect, not condescension. Do not patronize us as many of your predecessors have done. We see right through that.

NUMBER FIVE: If you have an issue with Defunding the Police because it hurts your party get over it. Defunding the police has much less to do with the police than it does with reestablishing prioritizing marginalized communities. We need a focus on spending that will help to overcome the massive disparities that America has created by disenfranchising, marginalizing and disinvesting in communities of color. Spend more wisely on our communities and you won’t need as many police officers.

NUMBER SIX: Work to build trust in the government by the Black community by learning to listen instead of talking. Our messages have clearly not been listened to for a long time. I heard as a kid that we had two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we talked. We don’t trust what the government says because we see what it does based on years of disappointments.

NUMBER SEVEN: Don’t allow the continuation of voter suppression to be the legacy of these challenges to the election. Push Congress to put teeth back into the 1965 Votings Rights Act that the Supreme Court saw fit to pull out without a rational reason to do so. If you and your party truly value the Black electorate, show it with actions not words. For years we have seen members of the Republican Party intentionally dismantle protections of elections that have benefitted the Democratic Party with overwhelming support from the Black community.

NUMBER EIGHT: Demand that we get longitudinal data broken down by race on the pandemic so that we can see trends not just overall numbers. It is ridiculous that people can tell us that x number of people died last month but can’t provide a racial breakdown.

NUMBER NINE: Advocate for a real stimulus bill that provides something more than a ridiculously inadequate $1,200 check. It was not enough by a mile. Americans are in need of the same level of support you favored as Vice President for the big investment banks that were “too big to fail.” Aren’t the American people “too big to fail?” You supported billions in relief for the people who were responsible for the largest recession since the Great Depression. Show just as much concern for the rest of us. Make all of the non-small businesses that stole money from the small business bailout pay it back and reallocate it to the surviving small business. Millionaires and big companies should have never been allowed to apply for those funds in the first place. As a result thousands of small businesses employing hundreds of thousands went belly up and you said nothing. Fix this. Also get over this reluctance to support student loan relief. Those loans are like an albatross on the backs of millions unnecessarily. No one would lose by you offering real relief, but the economy will be boosted in a way many refuse to understand. Oh, one other thing. Don’t put your name on the next stimulus checks like a certain megalomaniac did.

NUMBER TEN: Provide protections for essential workers that make them look like essential humans. Far too many have contracted this disease in the workplace with OSHA doing nothing to protect them. If you did not know Mr. President-Elect, OSHA is not a small town in Wisconsin. Make it do its job.

NUMBER ELEVEN: Put an emphasis on protecting those in our prisons and jails that are being devastated by the pandemic. I say this because I have friends and family members incarcerated. They are still people, and deserve to be treated as such.

NUMBER TWELVE: Reestablish the humanity of America by creating a Warp Speed process to reconnect those five hundred plus immigrant children with their families.

NUMBER THIRTEEN: Look at every executive order and policy shift put in place by “45” and fix all of them that have been detrimental to a well run country. Don’t do what your predecessors have done which is to complain about the last guy in office but refuse to fix the mess they created. I know this is a big ask and you will be really busy. I suggest you give the Vice President-Elect a real job having her focus on figuring these things out. We don’t need another Dan Quayle, Spiro Agnew, Walter Mondale or Joe Biden as Vice President. Kamala Harris is a huge asset. Take advantage of that. Make that office responsible for something for a change. No one knows what the Vice President normally does. Change that.

NUMBER FOURTEEN: Ask pro sports teams to stop using the military to make them look patriotic. I’m tired of Air Force flyovers at the Super Bowl. It’s fake patriotism at best.

NUMBER FIFTEEN: Get some young progressives to join your team. Right now your appointments have made your incoming administration look like Obama 3.0. I understand you trust these people but we have enough of the old guard in Washington already. We don’t need another middle of the road President or administration with all the myriad issues that need repair.

NUMBER SIXTEEN: Pass a national mask mandate. Enough said.

NUMBER SEVENTEEN: Stop sending military hardware to police. This is not a police state supposedly. It looks like one when I see police in battle fatigues and armored vehicles.

NUMBER EIGHTEEN: Create a national database and requirement to report police killings. Stop requiring journalists to try to figure out how many people police kill each year. If you need help with this, reach out to these huge data mining companies which are pretending to be social media platforms. If they know what type of toilet paper, toothpaste and fast food I prefer then they can help us figure out every time someone dies at the hands of the police.

NUMBER NINETEEN: Breakup the media monopolies, especially in the news business. They are poisoning the information we receive because of their ability to monopolize messaging through the news.

NUMBER TWENTY: This is the final one and I really think this would provide some comic relief to Black people. On April Fool’s Day propose in an executive order, painting the White House black.

Thanks for your consideration, sir. Look for more correspondence in the coming months.

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Аdаm SchυItz

About The Author

Reggie Jackson

As an award-winning Senior Columnist for the Milwaukee Independent, Reggie Jackson writes about a range of African American issues. He is also co-founder of Nurturing Diversity Partners which consults with organizations about equity and inclusion.