“Reversing the Harms”: The Case for Pete Buttigieg’s ‘Douglass Plan for Black America’

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Upstanders helping slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad

When I first read Pete’s “Douglass Plan for Black America”, it literally brought me to tears. For here was truth on paper at last — a bold, brilliantly conceived plan to provide real redress to America’s black community for the decades of harms it has experienced under continuing racist policies. The tentacles of slavery remain tightly wrapped about the neck of the community. Pete’s clear-eyed understanding of this is patently reflected in his Douglass Plan.

Here’s what we know: True freedom for Black Americans still does NOT exist — even now, 160 years after the abolition of slavery. Not when black unemployment is twice the national average. Not when jobs are denied to candidates with stereotypically Black names whose resumes are identical to those of white candidates. Not when Black children learn in schools that are still segregated. Not when there are systematic efforts to take away the right to vote in Black communities. Not when a disproportionate number of Black Americans make up America’s prison population. Not when health care is substandard, and Black entrepreneurship is daunting, at best.

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A statue commemorating Cincinnati’s Black Brigade in Smale Riverfront Park. After the city’s Black men were forcibly rounded up and marched across the Ohio River to build fortifications against the approaching Confederate army, Cincinnati citizens rose up to condemn the unfair military action. The men were returned to their homes, and then asked by the military to volunteer the build the fortifications. The next morning, over 700 Back men voluntarily marched across the river, and took part in constructing the fortifications that caused the Confederate army to turn east to Antietam and abandon plans to attack in Cincinnati. This statue depicts a mother and child watching in horror as their husband and father is dragged away by Union soldiers.

We must all stop questioning the need to reverse these harms. Truth: Slavery prevented most Black families from amassing wealth — treasures that could have been conveyed intergenerationally; and diminishing the inequities experienced by the Black community in today’s America. This, while many of the the descendants of white slaveowners are still enjoying the benefits of the wealth of their ancestors accrued by the act of enslavement of others.

Pete, in his Douglass Plan, is agitating for formidable measures to reverse these harms. Share it. Support it. This is a tide that WILL lift all boats. #20PETE20

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Cincinnati, Ohio-based writer, visual storyteller, PR Specialist and Telly and Emmy Award winning video and documentary producer.

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