For immediate release: May 14, 2020
Color Of Change: HEROES Act Provides Critical Relief For Black People, Structural Changes Still Required
NATIONWIDE — As the House of Representatives considers the passage of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES), Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson issued the following statement:
“The HEROES Act is a reflection of tireless organizing by Black communities and Color Of Change members, who have been pushing elected representatives for a response that meets the urgency of this moment. The latest stimulus measure will provide critical relief for Black people, who are quite literally fighting for their lives.
These provisions make improvements on earlier relief bills, but the health and economic devastation of COVID-19 calls for greater structural change and sustained funding to ensure communities of color can not only dig out of this dark hole, but emerge with a fighting chance to participate in our economy’s eventual recovery.
We don’t have time to mince words: this crisis has exacerbated the deadly impact of structural racism on Black lives, enabled by a political system increasingly eager to relinquish power to corporations. The one-time, temporary, and ad-hoc payments and relief measures are only one step toward the transformative policies we need to protect our lives and our livelihoods. Efforts to weaken the already meager student loan forgiveness provisions would be a step backward, certainly, and would be a mistake by the Democratic leadership in the House.
We are particularly pleased to see a few notable inclusions in the bill that will have a powerful impact on Black communities: another round of cash payments with increased support for children offering credit protection for four months, and increasing nutrition assistance through SNAP will provide a lifeline for Black families as we weather this economic storm. Premium pay and new grants are a necessary reward for the service and sacrifice of our essential workers, many of whom are Black. The employee retention tax credit will allow some Black businesses to continue paying workers and keep their doors open, at least for a little while longer, and all Americans are set to benefit from critical funding for election support and the United States Postal Service.
We are aware of the political obstacles presented by the GOP, but Democrats depend on Black voters to win – and we need to see that reflected in their governing choices. Congress holds an obligation to respond to Black constituents who are seeking transformational change during this crisis — it’s time for permanent paycheck guarantees, expansion of unemployment insurance for those who have lost their jobs, suspension of debt collection, rent and mortgage payments, expansion of health care services, and direct assistance specifically intended for small business owners of color.”