Recently, Derrick Johnson, the 19th President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), appealed to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris asking them to create a new Cabinet position that focuses on racial justice and equity. This new national advisory position would use bold, visionary thinking and strategy to tackle pervasive societal injustices.
Johnson made this appeal on December 8th, after he attended a two hour meeting with Biden and Harris to discuss their administration’s plans on handling race and equity issues. This meeting hit home for Johnson, the NAACP and several other civil rights organizations that attended. Immediately following this meeting, Johnson proposed to Biden and Harris to add a new cabinet position called the “National Advisor on Racial Justice Equity and Advancement.” He stated, “The structural inequity that is rooted deep within our society must be addressed…we must prioritize the transformation of our nation into a more just, equal society, in which all Americans can succeed and thrive.” This statement holds true for me as an African-American teeenager. Racial injustice and inequity is a burden that we as African-Americans have faced since the beginning of time. Many of us are growing tired, angry, and weary of this issue. However, we should keep addressing and speaking out as great social change is beginning to happen. The idea of creating a new Cabinet position that solely focuses on striving for racial justice and equity is commendable. This will not only allow an expert to use his knowledge and experience to address and combat injustices and inequities in our government, but also will create a top down effect for social change. The new Cabinet position could help prevent a significant amount of unlawful convictions and strive to preempt both black individuals and young teenagers, like myself, from being victims of police brutality.
Furthermore, Johnson formed and modeled this new Cabinet off of large organizations and corporations which utilized top-level diversity and inclusion officers to grow their company’s influence and success. He wanted to implement this model on an even larger/national scale. Experience, diversity, and expertise were the companies’ biggest contributing factors that lead to their success. To that Johnson said “You cannot move the needle when it comes to racial justice in this country unless you have people at the highest levels who have had experiences…”.
As an African-American student at a majorly white school, having equity officers and affinity groups allow myself to be more comfortable. It not only minimizes marginalization of students of different races, but also lets them feel included and that their diversity matters.
Derrick Johnson’s proposition of creating a new Cabinet position that focuses on racial justice and equity will spark change. By implementing a National Advisor on Racial Justice Equity and Advancement, we are confronting structural inequity that is rooted deep within our society.
A good example of that is what happened to the late Nelson Mandela. He served decades in prison for fighting apartheid, the former unjust racial system white South Africans imposed on Blacks. Through the protests he coordinated behind bars and other measures which lead to the dismantling of apartheid, he was released from prison and became the first Black president of South Africa. Mandela stated, “We must, however, not allow differences of opinion to ever paralyze our efforts towards attaining a world free of racial bigotry, hatred, discrimination, and intolerance”. Similar to the role Mandela served as for South Africa, a U.S. cabinet position on racial justice, equity, and advancement would help us gain new leadership, knowledge, and expertise that will directly aid us in fighting the war of racial injustice that must be won.