Interview by Henry Jacob, Yale 21'
Transcription by Emilia Fernández, Yale 23'
YHR: You mentioned spaces of cultural edification that you now enjoy because of your parents. Unfortunately, no one can use these resources in person today. But access to these places has been unequal far before COVID-19. On May 30th, Roxane Gay touched upon this topic in an article in the New York Times: “The rest of the world yearns to get back to normal. For black people, normal is the very thing from which we yearn to be free.” How do you help to ensure that the U.S. does not return to this “normal?”
RDL: This country is reeling from images of Black men and women senselessly killed by police. This moment forces us to confront the institutionalized racism that has brought us here. Every person in power should question what we can do to end systemic disparities, create equity in education, and eliminate unfair hiring practices. This country has left far too many people behind. We need to move forward.
As we pursue the vaccine for COVID-19, we must confront the virus of the racial injustice. I am in a fortunate position because I’ve been on the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee for 25 years and the chair for almost two. I'm proud of the work that we have done to reduce poverty and fix the structures that impact Black and brown communities. I can go through chapter and verse, whether we're looking at childcare, K through 12 and higher education, health care. Labor HHS has so far provided $280 billion for these programs in the care packages. If you add the Heroes Act, it's another $300 billion...