- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 29, 2021

Freshman Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman delivered the progressive response to President Biden‘s joint address to Congress Wednesday night, saying the Democratic Party needs to “think bigger” when it comes to issues such as systemic racism and environmental justice.

“We need to seize this moment,” the New York congressman said, speaking on behalf of the Working Families Party. “Republicans have made themselves clear. They tried to steal the election, incited an insurrection, and they believe Derek Chauvin is innocent of murdering George Floyd.

“This nation will never be truly free if we continue to incarcerate more people than anywhere else in the world, and as long as we invest more in war, jails and police than we do in jobs, schools and children,” he continued. “But also, let us finally step back and have honest conversations about race and racism in this country. Because it’s not just police violence — it’s housing discrimination, and wage theft, and Black maternal mortality, it’s environmental injustice, and all of the ways racism is built into the very fabric of America.”

Mr. Bowman’s remarks came in stark contrast to the Republican Party’s response to Mr. Biden‘s speech, in which South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who is Black, declared, “America is not a racist country.” 

Mr. Biden addressed what he described as “systemic racism” in his speech, calling on Republicans and Democrats to come together on passing police reform.

“We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Real justice,” he said. “And with the plans I outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues American life in many other ways.”

But Mr. Bowman said reform isn’t enough.

“Our country’s foundation is one of genocide, capitalist inhumanity, and exploitation,” he tweeted Thursday afternoon. “We need to transform our country, uproot that foundation, and rebuild on our shared values of love, care, and equality.”

In his speech, Mr. Bowman called for slavery reparations, paid family and medical leave, universal child care, a living wage for care workers, a “Green New Deal for Public Housing,” a “Green New Deal for Cities,” and a “Green New Deal for Public Schools.”

“The proposals that President Biden has put forward over the last few weeks would represent important steps — but don’t go as big as we’d truly need in order to solve the crises of jobs, climate and care. We need to think bigger,” he said. “Because now is the time to address the burning crisis of structural racism in our country. Every single time I have to watch a video of a Black man, or a Brown kid, die at the hands of police violence, a little piece of me dies, too.

“I am connected to every Black man in America. Like them my ancestors were kidnapped from Africa, robbed of their language, and stripped of their religion and culture and God, and we continue to be redlined and killed by the police,” he continued. “I have one message to law enforcement: Stop killing us! I need for President Joe Biden to say the same thing. Black people are not for target practice. We are simply trying to survive in a world stacked against us.

“More than anything, America needs a process of truth and collective healing,” he added. “We have to be honest with ourselves about the ugliness of our history and the discrimination that persist. Only then will we meet the ideals of our democracy and get one step closer to realizing the American experiment.”

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