US Record on Racial Justice Should Prompt White House Action

Decades after the US committed to end racial discrimination, systemic racism continues to infect US institutions.

The US administration has shown it can name the problem, but the time has come to take bolder action to radically transform these abusive systems and fully implement US human rights obligations.

Under the anti-racism convention, the US is obligated to provide effective remedies, including reparations for racial discrimination, including ongoing structural discrimination that flows from the legacies of slavery.

“In the absence of congressional action to pass H.R. 40 and S. 40, President Biden should establish the commission to study and develop reparations for the legacies of slavery through executive order,” said Dreisen Heath, racial justice researcher and advocate at Human Rights Watch.

 “The US government needs to build an equitable future for all, and that requires going beyond ordinary public policy to take concrete measures to begin to comprehensively tackle everything from the yawning Black-white wealth gap to the terror of white supremacy.”

The average white family in the US has roughly eight times the wealth of the average Black family, and white college graduates have over seven times more wealth than Black college graduates.

Almost two million people are locked up across the United States, with Black people imprisoned at a rate three times higher than white people. Black women are imprisoned at 1.7 times the rate of white women.

In 2020, the US had an estimated 580,000 unhoused people, 39 percent of whom were Black, even though Black people are only 12 percent of the US total population.

Though Black and white people use drugs at similar rates, Black people are imprisoned for drug crimes at five times the rate of white people.

Police in the US continue to kill Indigenous, Latinx, and Black people at significantly higher rates, as much as 350 percent more frequently, than white people.

Global Rights Watch (GRW) calls on the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to take immediate, tangible measures to dismantle structural racism in the US.

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