The Biden Effect and the Black Community

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been in office for close to a year and critics of the duo remain displeased with the promises made during the campaign versus the reality of the administration’s approach to leading the country. Rallied by millions of Black voters across the country, the historical win, for some, signified a promising new beginning after four years under the troubled Trump administration. Voters are scrutinizing the pair under a watchful eye and have yet to be swayed.


The Black vote carried the Biden/Harris ticket and inevitably led them to their historic victory. Running on ambitious promises, the duo is now facing a herd of constituents who are waiting to see the proof of the pair’s work.


Assuming office with an approval rating as high as 53 percent, the president’s appeal to the American people has sharply declined. Since January 2021, ratings have plummeted. As low as 38 percent of Americans stand behind the President according to recent polls. However, more than 50 percent of Americans now disapprove of Biden’s handling of the country. Amid a worsening pandemic, rising inflation and an unsteady economy, the Biden Administration is facing some backlash from voters.


“The backlash and approval rates plummeting can be attributed to vaccine mandates, mask requirements, potential broken promises, gas prices increasing and not appropriately recognizing some of our essential workers who have worked through the entire pandemic,” said Steven A. Chisholm, councilman for Inkster’s 4th District. “Folks don’t want to be told what to do. When vaccine mandates were enacted within the federal government, people got fearful. As a U.S. citizen, people want the right to remain pro-choice, but pro-choice should be applied across the board for everything.”


Vice President Kamala Harris is also falling short of the expectations of some voters. Hailed for being the first woman of color elected to the vice presidency, the Black community viewed her as a potential voice and ally in the White House. Much to their dismay, voters have seen little to no push specifically servicing Black and Brown communities.


“They’re not doing anything good. It’s like they used Kamala Harris and Joe Biden to get the Black people’s vote. Kamala Harris hasn’t helped Black people do anything,” said Adrian Humphries, a real estate entrepreneur.


Holding a 28 percent approval rate, Vice President Harris is facing a new level of scrutiny not previously withstood by her predecessors. An HBCU graduate, Black Greek-letter sorority member and the first female District Attorney in San Francisco, Vice President Harris may have succeeded in earning the Black vote, but maintaining the trust from Black communities is proving to be a different feat.


“Kamala Harris asked the people to vote for the first Black woman in office. Now, all of a sudden, she’s in the White House and won’t do anything for Black people,” said Humphries.


Formerly, Dick Cheney was once noted as the most unliked Vice President in the country’s history with a 30 percent approval rating. Now, the reigning VP ranks even lower.


The Biden Administration is credited for generating a much-needed economic jolt during the height of the pandemic. The American Rescue Plan provided direct relief to Americans with the help of stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, support for small businesses and childcare. This coupled with the recent infrastructure bill, which has been met with bipartisan support, are seen as two major wins for the administration. However, the pandemic continues to permeate the country and frontline workers are bearing the weight.


“I have a multitude of peers who work in the health industry and/or the public safety sector. They worked through the entire pandemic and never received any real recognition or they were ineligible for any of the amenities that were spread amongst many workers. They’ve voiced these concerns and blame the president as well as their state officials,” said Chisolm. “Some just want a simple thank you while others may want something monetary. It made matters a bit worse when they didn’t receive the official thank you they stated they deserved on top of being mandated to get vaccinated if they really didn’t want to.”


Advocates have rallied for the advancement of racial equality and amends for the country’s participation in 400 years of slavery. In March 2021, a rash of violent attacks against Asian Americans were reported in relation to the coronavirus pandemic and hysteria around its origin. As a response, in May, President Biden signed an anti-Asian hate bill addressing attacks. Many in the Black community are wondering where their relief is. To gain some much-needed traction in the Black community, voters are looking for the Biden Administration to make good on promises made during the 2020 campaign, including issues surrounding social and racial justice.


“First and foremost, anti-hate bills for African Americans need to be introduced. Such as outlawing lynching. Reparations for direct descendants of slaves need to be acted on immediately. Inequality in the criminal justice system needs to be addressed. Police reform needs to be addressed as well as college debt. At the very least, start with an official public apology for enslaving our people,” said Chisolm. “Our people practically carried the country on its back at one time. Later in life, we assisted and aided with tons of inventions amongst other things, and we still have to fight for our credit and equality.”


On the heels of year two, the nation will continue to watch the Biden administration as it continues to navigate the serve out the remaining term. Black voters hope to see the administration deliver.


“Politics is a funny game, and elections have consequences, both good and bad. It varies on where the consequences lay. The world watches as we elect a president and quite frankly anything we do in the U.S. can affect the rest of the world,” said Chisolm.

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