By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - President Joe Biden outlined his first steps Tuesday in his administration's push to advance racial equity in the US, issuing nearly a half-dozen executive orders to guide the federal government response.
In announcing the overhaul, Biden said the US and its government "need to change their whole approach to the issue of racial equity," and that while criminal justice reform is necessary it is not sufficient to mend the nation’s deep racial inequities.
" We need to open the promise of America to every American, and that means we need to make the issue of racial equity not just an issue for any one department of government. It has to be the business of the whole of government," said Biden .
The efforts are particularly needed amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color. About 10% of Black Americans are out of work, while 1 in 11 Latinos is in the same position.
Food scarcity is also affecting Black and Latino Americans more than their white neighbors with 1 in 4 Black, and 1 in 5 Latino households reporting they do not have enough food to eat, said Biden.
The president last week nixed via executive order, former President Donald Trump's efforts to eliminate racial sensitivity training within the federal government and its contractors and his creation of a controversial panel historians have criticized as pseudo-historical.
The new orders Biden issued Tuesday cover a range of directives, including ordering the Department of Housing and Urban Development to "address historical racism in federal housing policies," said Biden.
Other directives include ending new private prison contracts and reinvigorating the federal government's consultations with Native nations. Federal agencies are also being directed to combat the rise of xenophobia against Asian and Pacific Islander-Americans during the pandemic.
Biden acknowledged his orders will fall short of the goal of eliminating racial inequality in the US but said it must be pursued because inequality is "corrosive, it’s destructive and it’s costly."