The US should seize the opportunity for global leadership on racial justice

Senior Attorney Anjana Malhotra co-authored an op-ed about opportunities the Biden administration has to significantly improve U.S. compliance with a racial discrimination treaty through enacting reparations, criminal justice and immigration policies. Read excerpts below and the full article here.

The United States signed the United Nations racial discrimination treaty in the summer of 1966, less than a year after the passage of the Voting Rights Act and two years after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act. The Senate took another 28 years to consent to ratification

Even though the treaty has long been the law of the land, it has never been fully implemented. The United States has about as contentious a relationship with the human rights movement as it does with domestic campaigns against racism and xenophobia. 

Today and Friday, at United Nations hearings in Geneva, the Biden administration has a chance to commit to real progress on both, as the U.N. Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination examines the U.S.’s record of combating racial discrimination.

In nearly three decades, the U.S. has failed to make enough progress on eliminating discrimination to make good on its treaty obligations. A report published this week by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch (we are co-authors) details many of the biggest shortcomings.

Racial minorities in the U.S. experience much less economic security than their white counterparts — the average white family has many times the wealth of the average Black family — and that racial wealth gap has actually grown since the U.S. signed up to the treaty. Black and brown communities endure severe disadvantages due to the ongoing effects of discriminatory policies in land and home ownership, denial of health care and segregation in education. The ongoing COVID pandemic has only exacerbated these disparities.

In our view, there are three key areas where decisive executive action by the Biden administration could significantly improve U.S. compliance with this important treaty: reparations, criminal justice and immigration. Read more.