& Racial Justice
Economic Equity & Pandemic Recovery
Economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic has had a rippling effect on world economies and the U.S. is no exception. We must take bold steps that look holistically at the impact of the pandemic. We must consider the financial impact to employees and employers. We must look at the health care system. We need to better understand the pandemic’s impact on all levels of education from preschool to college. We need to look at the economic toll on state and municipal governments. Congress’s response must be holistic.
COVID-19, for instance, has unmasked historical injustices and the impact of institutionalized racism. The generationally compounded factors of racism, environmental and economic injustices, and political disenfranchisement have put poor people and people of color, who are at higher risks of chronic diseases such as asthma, heart attack, hypertension, and diabetes in a position where they have been more significantly impacted by COVID-19. African Americans have had higher mortality rates because of these compounded factors.
Access to quality medical care is a pervasive challenge in the U.S. The unraveling of the current heath care reforms has left a void in coverage for millions of Americans. We need more equitable access to healthcare in the United States. Congress must push for greater inclusion and access to health care including preventative care for all.
Criminal Justice and Policing Reform
In America, we need to develop better more humanistic relationships between the citizens and the police. The senseless murders of African American citizens must end. I will develop legislation to ensure that what happened to George Floyd, Freddy Grey, Tamir Rice, Elijah McClain, Sandra Bland and so many more, never happens again. We need to demilitarize policing in American cities. Many municipalities have made sweeping changes in their police departments. We are going to support cities and towns that develop Civilian Review Boards that are charged with the responsibility of helping to ensure humanizing police practices in our country. We must come together as a collective to solve this issue.
African Americans get more prison time than their white counterparts for the same crimes. We need to develop restorative and transformative justice programs for non-violent crimes. We will draft legislation to produce a commission on excessive, unfair, and unjust sentencing laws and practices.
We must look for ways to fund education instead of prisons and to fund education in prisons.
We look to bring an end to for-profit private prisons. Prisons should only exist where there is a need and there should be no profit motives for prisons or on the backs of prisoners.
Climate Change & Environmental Equity
The science is clear that humankind has the option to continue to negatively impact our environment or to strive to live in harmony with it. In this regard, I support the Green New Deal in principle. Its social justice components such as employees’ rights, healthcare and economic safeguards are crucial concerns which I address elsewhere my platform.
Climate change and the usage of greener energy must be central to our legislative considerations in 2021 and beyond. We can no longer afford to allow the divisiveness and partisanship that leads us to irresolvable debates. These debates delay the passage of a clean emissions bill, which is critical to the health of our planet and the American people. Click here for the CCEEPlan.
Reparations and Racial Justice
American society has begun to face our historical racist past that has provided the foundation for our present social clash. Asheville, NC has set the bar in our consideration for providing reparations for African Americans, who are the descendants of the brutally enslaved in America. The federal government, via Congress and the Executive branches of government, can do no less. I support bill H.R. 40 as a first step to addressing the abuses of the past. Reparations will bring repair from the harm created by a slave economy, which created a legalized economic depression for African Americans. Financial recovery for African Americans will build a momentum that will spark a more financially equitable American society.
I will push for a multi-tiered implementation of reparations in the United States that includes free education for African Americans. Historically, in many parts of the country it was illegal or a violation of the customs of the day to teach African Americans to read and write. This centuries-long practice coupled with decades of separate and unequal education provided the basis for the unequal education experienced in America today. This institutional denial of the unalienable rights of African Americans denied them access to good education, which continues to generationally block access to well-paying jobs and the ability to amass wealth to pass on to the next generation. Other factors like Jim Crow policies, the War on Drugs and housing discrimination have contributed substantially to the educational and wealth gap between African Americans and Whites in the U.S.
To confront these injustices, I propose that the first tier of reparations will provide a free college education for the descendants of enslaved Africans up to a bachelor’s degree. This educational foundation will be key to wealth and career building, and ultimately create a more just and equitable society.
Reparations for people of African descent must be looked at in its proper historical and global context, therefore a subcommittee of the Reparations Commission needs to be established that is connected with the global reparations movement for African people on the continent, and in South America and the Caribbean Islands.
Black Lives Matter. Congress can and should set the tone for understanding this. This does not suggest that other lives matter less. The statement, "Black Lives Matter," refers to the lack of humanity and human dignity given to the bodies of Black people.
Racism is institutionalized and systemic. American people have become more aware of its impact on their friends, family members and neighbors. The murder of George Floyd has sparked a nation-wide movement against racial oppression, violence, and discrimination. This awakening has opened new possibilities in racial justice reform. We must seize the moment and help the numerous citizens and businesses who are looking for ways to end racism and create a more equitable society.
We will take this moment in American history to develop the legislation, regulations and conscience of the citizens to transform our country. We will strive to create inclusive, anti-racist, and anti-discrimination policies that are clear departures from the past.
Health Care for All
I support such programs as Medicare for All. I believe that access to quality healthcare is a right not a privilege. Everyone should have the ability to seek quality healthcare when needed. There should be no fear of going bankrupt as a result of obtaining serious or life-saving medical care. Healthcare should include dental, vision, hearing, mental health, and long-term care. Current insurance costs are too high and force hardworking people to make the difficult decision to go without healthcare insurance or to be underinsured. The United States is the only major country in the world that does provide comprehensive holistic care for its citizen's health.
Congress and the executive branch must finally remedy this in the near-term.
Labor and Employment Rights
Income inequality is a major stumbling block for many Americans. I support the $15 minimum wage as a beginning place for all wage earners, however $15 per hour is not a living wage. Today, the average worker cannot make ends meet on a minimum salary. Congress needs to study the feasibility of developing a more equitable federal minimum wage. According to a 2017 Harris Poll*, 78% of employees are living paycheck to paycheck. The same survey reported that, of the 81% of employees who have worked at a minimum wage job, 71% of them were unable to make ends meet and most had to work a second job. We need to find ways to ensure that our citizens have jobs that pay a living wage, which can increase productivity.
I come from a family of union workers. I support the right for labor to develop and maintain unions to represent their interests. In February of 2020, the House approved the “Protecting the Right to Organize” or PRO Act that would make it easier for employees to form unions and bargain for higher wages, better benefits and improved working conditions. The act would add penalties to companies that violate employees’ rights. This bill was referred to the Senate which is unlikely to pass it. And if it did pass, President Trump has threatened to veto it. These are the kinds of laws we need to even the playing field between corporations and employees and to address income inequality. I strongly support and advocate for laws that promote unions, union membership and employees’ rights.
National Education Reform
The United States needs a National Educational Reform Plan that reconstructions from the ground up. Past plan attempted to reform curriculum, but that is inadequate. We need to look at our educational systems from pre-school to the doctorate level. The pandemic has helped us to look inward and around the globe to see where the U.S. is on the cutting edge and where we are behind. We must make sure that all of our schools are able to provide excellent education to students from very diverse cultural, racial, socio-economic, gender, and religious backgrounds. We are calling for a new educational paradigm in America. All people learn differently and we must be able to think broadly about what education looks like to those diverse learners.
69% of recent graduates owe an average of nearly 30,000 in student loan debt. Student loan debt is crippling college graduates who struggle to pay back their debt and wonder if it was all worthwhile. Congress should convene a committee to study ways to reduce public and private school tuition, create student loan forgiveness, reduce student loan interest rates, and decrease overall student loan debt. The Congressional committee might consider creating incentives for student loan forgiveness that would encourage graduates to use the extra money in ways that invigorate the U.S. economy with large investments such as home ownership or the establishment of small businesses.
New York State has enacted free tuition for state and city universities for middle class NY residents via their Excelsior Scholarship program. This is the first such program of its kind in the nation. Similarly, New Jersey has created the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program to make it possible for residents to go to community college for free. I support the development of similar programs across the country.
The recent and growing mindset among college age students of not attending college to avoid excessive debt can be detrimental to the Nations standing among developed nations. The United States could easily lag further behind the other advanced nations with regard to Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics.
Other Important Issues
The immigrant detainee system is a result of a set of immigration enforcement policies aimed at deterring undocumented immigration by incarceration, punishment, and criminalization. These policies and processes of criminalization are cruel and inhumane. We must develop a system that is fair and humane for all immigrants, regardless of the countries or regions from which they come, or their religious, ethnic, or racial background.
I support immigration reform that will provide a reasonable road to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In addition, I support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program that prevents deportation of undocumented immigrants who arrived in this country as children and have essentially known no other homeland than the US. I also support extending Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for Haitian, Central American and other refugees until an appropriate immigration policy has been established and adopted.
MARRIAGE EQUALITY RIGHTS
All individuals should have the right to marry the person of their choice. Married couples must have the legal protections, rights, and responsibilities under federal law that extends to all couples regardless of their sexual orientation. These rights include:
Social Security and pension benefits for survivors
Hospital visitation rights
Medical decision-making rights
Family Leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act
End-of-life decision rights
Corporate Money and Elections
I believe that accepting money from corporations makes a candidate beholden to that corporation. Corporate goals are seldom aligned with the needs of the people. Publicly funded campaigns would allow for candidates who are not rich or backed by corporations to enter the political arena. These candidates would tend to have values that are more consistent with the electorate than a corporate backed candidate.
I am in complete support of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 which passed in the House last December but languishes in the Senate. This bill seeks to restore the full protections of the original Voting Rights Act of 1965. It will do so by creating current descriptions of what consists of voter suppression today and replace the outdated language of practices used and described in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Gerrymandering in NJ
In June 2019, the Supreme Court rendered a decision that made it necessary for those opposing gerrymandering to fight it out at the state level. Individual states can craft a ballot referendum that will entrust redistricting to a non-partisan State demographer. A complete census count will be critical to ensure that there is fair representation of all communities in Washington, D.C.