Denise Coffey| Cape Cod Times
There's newfound hope on this Inauguration Day amongthose who voted for President-electJoseph Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
People of color living on Cape Cod are optimistic about changes the Biden administration will bring, but at the same time they want to make surethe promises he made on the campaign trail will be kept.
Biden carried 87% of the Black vote, 65% of the Hispanic/Latino and 60% of the Asian vote, according to a New York Times exit poll. The groups, especially the high percentage of Black voters, carried the Biden-Harris ticket to victory.
In a speech after he was declared the winner,Biden thanked Black voters for propping him up,especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb.He said he would not turn his back on them.
On Cape Cod, people of color who voted for Bidensaid hewill be exactly what Trump isnot. That Biden will be unifying instead of divisive,generous rather thanbelittling, a president for all Americans and not just for his base.
The Rev. Dr. Kristen Harper, who leads the Universalist Unitarian Church in Barnstable, is excited. She thinks the country is at the end of a very bad chapter in history that includes the rise of white supremacy groups. She calls white supremacy something thats built into the fabric of American culture, and that it needs to be recognized before it can be removed.
We swim in it, she said. We live in it. It is our history and our present. Until we deal directly with that issue, poor people and people of color are going to be continually slammed.
The symbols of white supremacy were on clear display when a mob broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6: a man carrying a confederate flag,a sweatshirt with the words"Camp Auschwitz" across the front, a noose and identifiable hate group patches and tattoos.
Harper calls white supremacy a part of every problem the country faces. Its found in the way we interact and how we live with one another.
She pointed to the inordinate numbers of Black people dying from COVID-19 compared withwhite people, the difficulties Black and brown people face getting bank loans, and their lower wages compared withwhat white workers earn.
Why are more Black people dying from COVID, she asked?Why are they followed aroundwhen they go into stores? Why cant they make a living wage?
Harper preached on Martin Luther King Jr.s Letter from a Birmingham Jail over the weekend.The lessons he was teaching, the things he was saying are still relevant today, she said. The issues are still the same.
But Harper is looking forward to the future.
I hope they can do something about the many issues were facing as a nation, she said. I hope theyll be more interested in poor people, and issues facing people of color. It doesnt mean our worries are over or our problems are solved, but I have a lot of hope.
But some Cape Codders are cautiously optimistic.
I hope they keep their promises, Jesse Barboza said.Barboza and his brother, Andre, created the annual Unity Day event held in Hyannis and across Barnstable.
Every two, four and six years, Democratand Republican politicians run with the same talking points, he said. They promise to do things for the Black community, but when elected, they abandon the Black community. Thats his take from what he calls a Black male vantage point.
I hope these are more than campaign promises, he said. We as a people must hold them accountable to their words.
Angel Robinson Jr.,the assistant recreation directorin Wellfleet,ran through a list of things he was looking forward to with the new administration, beginning with plans to fight COVID-19.
He cited Bidens policies targeting economic inequality and economic growth, and is hopeful the administration will tackle student debt and forgive at least a portion of federal student loans.
He said he thinks a tax plan is key to Bidens success, that he needs to get the top 1% of earnersto pay a fairer share, and that Biden will work to close the capital gains loopholes.
I can imagine them promoting a more holistic approach to social and economic conditions, which will have a positive impact on health, he said.
Robinsonplayed professional basketball overseas. He was bothered by the way Trump dealt with our allies. Canada, the U.K., France,Germany congratulated Biden and Harris right away, he said.
As Trump leaves office, he continues to insist he won the election because of widespread voter fraud, despite 59 court ruling that there was no evidence of fraud, numerous vote recounts in swing states and former U.S. Attorney General William Barr declaringthere is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Willie Ford sees the change in administrations as a beacon of light to his daughter.
No matter what color you are, its good to see a woman in that position, he said, referring to Kamala Harris, the first woman, first southeast Asian and first African American to be elected to the second-highest office in the land.
Ford grew up in Falmouth and now runs a nonprofit organization called Granting Wishes,which helps families on Cape Cod.
Its important for girls to see a person in that position, he said. They can dream. They can say, That can be me one day. It wasnt long ago that women werent allowed to vote.
Ford said he thinks the country needs a change, and that Biden and Harris will be less divisive than Trump and Pence.
We need to get back to some normalcy, he said. We need politicians who can work on policies that are needed by the American people.
Seeing people in all shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities is what its all about, said state Rep. Kip Diggs. The freshman representative is just getting his feet wet at the Statehouse in Boston, learning as he goes.
Were here to serve everyone and to protect our Constitution, he said. Its about all of us working together.
Contact Denise Coffey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @DeniseCoffeyCCT.
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