February 7, 2020 - Candidates Decry Systemic Racism, Debate Policy Response

At the eighth Democratic presidential debate, moderator Linsey Davis raises a comment by Sanders surrogate Nina Turner that suggests Biden has “repeatedly betrayed Black voters.” Sanders suggests she was talking about “early actions” by Biden and pivots to describe the need for policies addressing racial inequity in health care, education, and wealth. Klobuchar adds that “systemic racism in voting” should be a focus of policy action and Biden backs that call. Warren is more direct in criticizing Democrats for talk without action when it comes to supporting the Black community. She says, “l I think it’s time we have real, concrete plans that are going to make a difference in people’s lives,” and suggests her two-cent wealth tax will fund the programs necessary to close racial gaps. Steyer adds that he would “set up a formal commission on race on day one to retell the story of the last 400 years in America of systematic racism against African Americans.” Yang uses the opportunity to emphasize the need for direct cash payments to African Americans. Later, Warren argues against focusing only on criminal justice when it comes to addressing racial inequity. She urges, “We need to start having race-conscious laws” in areas like housing, education, and employment. Few candidates address the distinct realities for women of color, though Sanders’ mention of disparate health outcomes for Black women and Warren’s call for race consciousness across policy areas suggest the need for attentiveness to how other identities shape experiences of systemic racism.