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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Boyd: Lofty goals, promises in infrastructure bill

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A few days after the House passed the $1 trillion dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, I received an email from the chair of the Democratic National Caucus (DNC). This email of course was a mass email sent to journalists across the country. However, I took special interest in it because the subject line read “Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will Revitalize Black Communities Across America.”

Whoa! That grabbed my attention.

The email included a statement from Jaime Harrison, DNC chair, as well as bullet points of how the act will help Black Americans.

“For years, Black Americans heard talk but didn’t see any action from Trump and Republicans who were unable to address critical community problems like lead leaching pipes, crumbling roads and bridges, and flooding streets. But now, thanks to President Biden, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will address these monumental concerns while also advancing racial justice and equity through investments in communities of color. Because of Democrats, neighborhoods across the country will be safer, healthier, better connected, and Black Americans will experience an enhanced quality of life for generations to come.” 

The highlighted areas of the bill included access to reliable email, elimination of lead pipes, investment in public transit, “reconnecting communities divided by inequitable infrastructure,” investment in clean energy and remediation of brownfields and Superfund sites, an informal name for contaminated sites designated for Environmental Protection Agency cleanup.

These are lofty goals and promises.

I find it interesting that former President Donald Trump was blamed for years of talk and no action. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Trump was only president for four years. No one could ever mistake me for a Trump supporter, but I’m honest, and the roads and bridges didn’t start crumbling during Trump’s administration, streets didn’t start flooding, and lead didn’t form in pipes under Trump. He didn’t make things better, but he certainly can’t take the blame for America’s ills. In my opinion, he’s a symbol of how bad things have become in America.

Let’s put the blame where it belongs: squarely on the shoulders of Republicans and Democrats. Neither party can say they haven’t played a role in the inequity that Black Americans face today. Sure, the Democrats talk a good game, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, keeping a political office, i.e., staying in power, usually wins over making substantive change in systemic racism.

Our current president, Joe Biden, has fallen into this category in the past. Of course, the jury is still out for his presidency.

Your statement sounds good, Jaime, but we have too many examples of Democrats not keeping their word.

Now that Jaime Harrison and the Democrats have taken credit for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we need to pay attention and hold them accountable. But Americans have short attention spans and memories. While Biden says the impact of the $1 trillion bill could be felt as early as two or three months from now, it will take decades for completion. So, how do we keep tabs on the progress of a bill that will take years and years? I guess we’ll have to figure it out as we go.

Biden calls this bill “a blue collar blueprint to rebuilding America.” It’s sorely needed as it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize America’s infrastructure needs improving. In addition to the crumbling roads, the sewage system in many parts of this country is outdated. Poor and Black neighborhoods are most often affected and neglected.

While I’m excited about the possibility of improvement in our country, especially the parts of it where Black people make up the majority, I’m not ready to say it’s a victory for us until I see the actual action.

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