Top White House official Cedric Richmond Affirms to African Americans “You’ve Got a Friend in President Biden”
Cedric Richmond, senior adviser to President Biden and director of the Office of Public Engagement, spoke candidly in an exclusive interview with the National Newspaper’s Public Association on Thursday, Feb. 4. The event moderated by NNPA president Dr. Ben Chavis provided an up-close-and-personal tour of the workings of the Biden Administration and its commitment to addressing the most pressing issues facing the nation and African Americans in particular.
Richmond gave detailed attention to the access for black press to the Biden administration which he affirms puts the concerns of minority citizens at the top of his agenda, adding that this White House is committed to disseminating news to ensure and assure an informed black citizenry.
“Not everybody knows it so I’ll take a second to tell others, you tell the unvarnished truth, you give it to us unedited and in many places, it is the most reliable news you can get. … That’s what you do, you reach audiences other people can’t reach and there is great value in that,” Richmond stated, adding that President Biden worked in earnest to include and address the black press in campaign and post-election events at every chance.
The black press – considered the most reliable and culturally sensitive information outlets for news affecting Black Americans is particularly analytical and critical regarding current issues facing Black Americans, i.e., the coronavirus vaccinations, racial equity and social-economic justice is the mission of the medium. Richmond went on to address the president’s top political and social issues with NNPA members in a conversation moderated by Dr. Chavis.
On coronavirus vaccines … “We are in dire need to get everybody vaccinated, we do know that there is real skepticism in this country, there is real skepticism in the black community, and you can’t say it is without some basis in reality,” Richmond explained. “If you look at the Tuskegee Experiment and you look at generally how African American people have been treated, you now want people to just believe that the government has their wellbeing in mind.”
Across the U.S., only 32 percent of Black adults say they would definitely or probably take a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Pew Research Center. Another study by the COVID Collaborative and the NAACP found that most Black people don’t believe a vaccine will be safe or effective, and don’t plan to get it.
While Richmond urged Black Americans to take either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, he also assured NNPA members that the Biden Administration would be transparent and forthcoming to overcome fears about the health outcomes. “In order for us to get this health pandemic and economic crisis [we] have to take the vaccine … and we have to put information in outlets that people are going to believe. We’re going to give [your readers] the science and the facts to make those determinations. … It’s no secret that when Americans have a cold, Black Americans have the flu.”
On the economic relief plan … “If we don’t pass this economic rescue plan, we stand to lose over 4 million jobs this year. And if we don’t pass this plan, black poverty is expected to be around 20 percent this year, but if we pass this plan [black ] is reduced by one third and we get it down to somewhere around 13 percent.
“We’re also talking about increasing the earned income tax credit and increasing the child tax credit. Those two things alone would reduce child poverty in this country by almost half.”
On racial equity … “On this president’s first day in office, one the executive orders he signed was to create a whole of government plan on racial equity, and that [means] holding every department and every agency accountable … that agency will be headed by Ambassador Susan Rice.
“President Biden is committed to racial investment, including to HBCUs. To root out systemic racism in homeownership and housing … to start businesses and put children through college and transfer wealth to the next generation, promised to end the use of private prisons. …
“It also expands unemployment past March 15, it extends the eviction moratorium and not to mention the most popular part of the plan is putting $1400 checks in people’s pockets to help them through these hard times.”
Mr. Richmond, a House member from Louisiana for a decade, is one of the highest-ranking Black officials in the Biden administration as the head of the White House Office of Public Engagement and a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.