Celebrations took place all over the country on Jan. 20, 2021, as President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President Kamala Devi Harris were inaugurated into office. On this Inauguration Day, history was made as Harris was sworn in, not only as the first female vice president but also as the first Asian-American and African-American one. The Biden administration has also been deemed the most diverse cabinet in history — according to PBS NewsHour, the staff is “made up of 61 percent women, 54 percent people of color, and nearly 20 percent first-generation Americans.”
With Donald Trump out of office, many have expressed to me personally a newfound sense of relief; many say they feel safer. Others have expressed a sense of hope with the Biden administration’s plan of action that will undo many Trump-era and Trump-supported policies, such as creating a more feasible and inclusive path to citizenship for undocumented persons, rejoining the World Health Organization and putting an end to the so-called “Muslim ban.”
For those who identify as being on the left: you have been presented with a House of Representatives, a Senate and a presidential administration that are all majority blue. The last time this happened was 111th Congress. All of these are major steps in your favor. With that being said, despite the fact that Trump is finally out of office, and we’re seeing the push for diversity in the new administration and new productive legislation has been proposed, do not forget: there is still so much work to be done.
The legislation that Biden campaigned on spans from supporting veterans, educators and students, to improving racial economic equity and to securing environmental justice. And although this type of legislation can greatly benefit millions of people, I feel it is not enough.
A great example of progress happening with room for improvement is the highly polarizing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. For me personally, and for thousands of undocumented people and first-generation Americans, Biden’s plan for DACA is exciting and relieving to see in place, as the program has been on hold for three years now.
But more can always be done.
For example, undocumented students attending college here in Arizona, Georgia or Indiana are ineligible for in-state tuition rates and financial aid even if they have lived in that state their whole lives. In addition, undocumented students are barred from attending any public colleges in South Carolina and Alabama. Being undocumented should not outweigh the hard work put into getting into college, and these students should have the same access to post-secondary institutions as their peers do. All undocumented people must be treated with dignity and fairness — whether they are DACA recipients or not.
I have seen some people walking around with a “we won” attitude and for those who believe in and trust the current infrastructure of the United States, maybe you did “win” — I am not trying to rain on your parade. But as someone who believes in abolitionary work, I do recognize the long road that still lies ahead in trying to liberate the American people. Trump is out of office but the institution in which he thrived is still fully intact, allowing injustice on all levels to continue to infest this country.
Marginalized communities have been struggling for centuries in this country. The American government has just now decided that it is time for ‘equity.’ A question that I raise to leftists is this: is true equity for marginalized peoples achievable under Biden? Or any president for that matter?
When considering whether achieving true equity under the Biden administration is doable or not, it’s important to keep in mind that it has less to do with Biden himself and more to do with the infrastructure of the institution in which he works and will run for the next four years.
Leftists, Democrats, Liberals — anyone who champions equity for all people in the U.S. — there is still so much work to be done. One thing we cannot forget is that Biden is currently Commander-in-Chief on a land that was stolen and that has been illegally occupied since the day Christopher Columbus set foot on this continent.
To put it bluntly, Biden is not going to magically make everything better in America. At this point in history, all we civilians can do is take care of and support each other. For those wondering “what can I do?,” I urge you to look in your own community. Support and uplift the marginalized communities around you. If you want to make change happen, look into grassroots organizations in your area that are committed to taking action and taking care of those in the community.
Follow Geraldine Espinosa on Twitter
Geraldine is a junior and is majoring in journalism. She likes to bake and read in her free time.