As Biden promotes his infrastructure plan, many items were dubbed by supporters as “infrastructure”, including paid leave and caregiving. Critics responded with sarcastically offering to label anything and everything as infrastructure. Now, the list of things that could be described as “infrastructure” grows long and even includes racism.
US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, speaking to theGrio’s April Ryan on Tuesday about the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan, claimed that racism is “physically built into” the American highway system.
“Well if you’re in Washington, I’m told that the history of that highway is one that was built at the expense of communities of color in the DC area. There are stories and I think Philadelphia and Pittsburgh [and] in New York, Robert Moses famously saw through the construction of a lot of highways,” Buttigieg said.
Responding to a question about how infrastructure investment will be distributed under The American Jobs Plan, the Transportation Secretary underlined that the Biden administration considers it important that dollars are designated “equitably”. He referred to examples when the investments are absent or made “in the wrong way”.
“Like a highway dividing a black neighbourhood in two. There’s been a lot of that”, he continued, with Ryan rushing to add: “And the interstate system. The interstate system was built to keep certain groups in and certain groups out. So it was built on a racist system, correct?”. Buttigieg agreed.
However, according to Buttigieg, the Biden administration will try to fix that by implementing what it calls the “Justice40 Initiative”, with a goal of “delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities and tracks performance toward that goal through the establishment of an Environmental Justice Scorecard.”