The first presidential debate of the election season is here. Joe Biden will face Donald Trump on an Ohio stage for 90 minutes, and the two presidential candidates are expected to address the issues impacting people the most, and how they will implement policies around those issues.
At a time when racial tension is noticeably high, millions remain unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic and are without basic needs, here are six critical issues that matter to me as a young Black woman that I want the candidates to talk about tonight:
1) Child care
Early learning and care continue to be an issue of gender, racial, and economic justice. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, child care in this country proved to be inequitable in many ways, from extremely low pay for child care workers, who are majority women of color, to the lack of resources for early childhood learning, specifically for children of color.
Organizations, such as Community Change, are building a national movement that is fighting to make child care both accessible and affordable. Parents and providers need candidates to discuss the policies they plan to implement that will benefit those who work in and rely on child care. It has never been clearer than during the pandemic that child care providers are income drivers for our country and should be compensated fairly.
Now that we’ve seen the impact of the pandemic on the livelihood of both childcare workers and parents who need child care, we cannot afford to avoid the ways in which child care can and should be a priority for the leader of this country.
Immigration continues to sit at the top of the list of important issues, as the United States has the highest immigrant population in the world. Immigrants are an essential part of the fabric of this nation, but several policies implemented by our leadership over the past few years express otherwise.
In June, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which blocked the threat of deportation for nearly 700,000 immigrants, but unfortunately, this could change at any moment based on whether or not the Department of Homeland Security attempts to cancel DACA once more.
From the complete disregard for the lives of immigrants of color and the scare tactics that threaten to split apart families to strict green card rules, it is important for candidates to discuss how they will end these harmful policies over the next four years.
3) COVID Relief
Millions have lost their jobs since the emergence of the pandemic in early March. The government distributed stimulus checks in the late spring and early summer months, but it was not nearly enough to ensure people can survive. In cities such as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York City, and more, rent prices and mortgages run higher than $1,200 each month.
Lawmakers are discussing the possibility of more stimulus checks, as well as what a substantial COVID Relief Bill in the coming weeks or months can or will encompass.
4) Racial Justice
In 2020, the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd at the hands of police and white supremacists occurred at the same time people of color were, and still are, dying at disproportionate rates from a deadly virus. Both have resulted in heavily increased racial tensions from Minneapolis to Louisville.
As police violence continues to prevail, and the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s murder receive the bare minimum of consequence, with one single charge of wanton endangerment, the candidates are expected to discuss how they plan to address the real threats of police violence in communities of color moving forward, as well the current protesting and uprisings occurring across the nation at this moment.
One of the many negative effects of the pandemic is a severe housing crisis. Before the pandemic, millions faced homelessness and threats of evictions every single day. Now, that looming threat has impacted even more people and could become increasingly worse if solid housing policies are not put into place soon.
The candidates should address how they will achieve long term affordable housing solutions during their term. Housing is a basic human need and a health care issue.
6) Universal Basic Income
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed both the need for and the possibility of universal basic income. St. Paul, Minnesota Mayor Melvin Carter, recently said “[Universal basic income] is a concept, frankly, that is far more controversial in halls of government than on any street in America.” He is part of a coalition of more than a dozen mayors across the country who believe universal basic income would be a step in the right direction for their citizens.
Although a controversial topic for decades, as millions continue to suffer from the reality of little to no income due to unemployment or extremely low wages, many are starting to see the benefit of the guarantee of basic income. A recent poll from The Hill shows a significant increase in voters who believe the government should implement a universal basic income program.
It’s imperative the candidates address how they are thinking about how they will ensure voters’ basic needs are met as we continue to live through this pandemic, and beyond.
These issues are at the core of how many Americans live their lives. We must address the need for immigrant protection, basic human needs, and racial justice in order to create a country where all of us can succeed, no exceptions.