Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled new aspects of his plan for racial justice Thursday morning, pledging that it would “help heal our racial divides with bold policies that match the scale of the crises we face today.”
Buttigieg’s “Douglass Plan,” named for abolitionist Frederick Douglass, would seek to combat racial inequality by focusing on reforming health care, education, entrepreneurship, criminal justice and voting rights on a federal level, per a release from his campaign. The South Bend, Indiana, mayor first announced the plan in an op-ed for the Charleston Chronicle last month.
In the new details of the plan, Buttigieg has proposed: increasing federal funding for historically black colleges and universities, increasing investments in minority-held depositories and mandating 25% of government contracts go to minority owned businesses. The plan would also seek to reduce incarceration by 50% at the state and federal level and abolish private federal prisons, per a release from the Buttigieg campaign.
The plan also wants to address “the underrepresentation of Black Americans in the health workforce and train our existing health workforce to combat bias — especially racial bias — when treating patients,” hitting a topic Buttigieg has touched on while stumping on the campaign trail.
“Our entire health care system is burdened by racism,” Buttigieg told voters at Sunday’s Essence Fest in New Orleans, “when black women are dying from maternal complications at three times the rate of white women. Your race should have absolutely no bearing on your life expectancy in this country.”
Buttigieg’s campaign has struggled to garner support with black voters. A CNN poll released last week found the mayor polling at 0% with black voters nationally. Last week, the mayor told reporters at Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition breakfast: “When you’re new on the scene, and you’re not from a community of color, you’ve got to work much harder in order to earn that trust, because trust is largely a function of quantity time.”
Buttigieg, in an interview with CNN’s David Axelrod that will air on “The Axe Files” on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, responded to the poll by saying he is “not interested in winning without black support.”
“I’m interested in winning black support and deserving to win black support,” Buttigieg said. “It’s why we’re making sure that through initiatives like the Douglass Plan, people understand exactly what I propose to do with the powers of the presidency and federal office, to deal with racial inequality.”
Buttigieg added that “a lot of people feel like they’ve been lied to, by various politicians coming along from both parties, for as long as I’ve been alive or longer” and that means he has “a lot of work in a short amount of time, to build that trust and build those relationships.”
In Iowa last week, Buttigieg blasted the criminal justice system during a campaign stop, telling voters at the Carroll County Fourth of July Barbecue, “The fact that a black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime is evidence there’s systemic racism.”
“When black people and white people are treated the same by the criminal justice system, it will be easier for white people and black people to live in this country and it will be easier for law enforcement to do their job. But racism has no place in American politics or in American law enforcement.”