Heads turned, eyebrows raised, and the outrage flowed in liberal circles Tuesday when legendary rapper Ice Cube was mentioned on Twitter by Katrina Pierson, senior advisor to the Trump campaign. Pierson’s tweet said, “Shoutout to @icecube for his willingness to step up and work with @realDonaldTrump Administration to help develop the #PlatinumPlan. Leaders gonna lead, haters gonna hate. Thank you for leading! ✊🏾” Backlash from fans and colleagues ensued on the social media platform toward the 51-year-old rap icon for working with the President.
Ice Cube responded Wednesday tweeting. “Facts: I put out the CWBA. Both parties contacted me. Dems said we’ll address the CWBA after the election. Trump campaign made some adjustments to their plan after talking to us about the CWBA.” The CWBA, or Contract With Black America, is a framework for critical and impactful changes to many aspects of American society to bring fiscal aid and true equality to the Black community.
The CWBA is a petition style list of demands drafted in response to the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Ice Cube created the plan with the help of Darrick Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton is a scholar in stratification economics and works currently as the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. Hamilton wrote the preface for the CWBA, which reads, “As citizens and lawmakers both, we are joining to demand the Contract with Black America be addressed immediately to finally create the “more perfect union” all Americans deserve. It is time for a complete paradigm shift in how we run our institutions and operate our country. The problems facing America are too deep and wide to reform one area or another. Long-lasting solutions demand a comprehensive, thorough ‘rethink’ of America so that each new approach in each area supports the success of the others. This Contract with Black America will provide conceptual approaches in several areas.”
The areas of focus in the contract are banking reform, the establishment of guaranteed, government-provided trust funds for all babies born (Baby Bonds), guaranteed opportunity and representation for Blacks in federal, state, and local institutions, police reform, justice system reform, special programs and oversight to provide interest-free loans for Black first time home buyers, removal of all confederate monuments, renaming of all public places named for confederate generals, a federal “Juneteenth” holiday, allowing credit building through consistent rent and utility payments, and FCC regulations for 20% of all broadcast network programming be dedicated to Black produced content. They are asking that all marijuana convictions be expunged. Voting rights restored once a prison term is completed. Abolition of privately run prisons and volunteer only prison labor. Elimination of three-strike laws and mandatory minimum sentencing. Civil rights classes mandated in every school and an apology for past discrimination and slavery among other demands.
Ice Cube presented the CWBA to both the Trump administration and the Biden campaign.
President Trump unveiled a new initiative on September 25th aimed at boosting fiscal opportunities, improving neighborhoods, providing good jobs, ease access to quality healthcare, aid those formerly incarcerated, and much more all in an effort to provide extra support and equal opportunity for Black Americans. The program is called the “Platinum Plan”. The Platinum Plan includes a promise to the Black community directly from President Trump to “increase access to capital in Black communities by almost $500 million dollars”. This plan is massive.
The plan focuses on four issues, or pillars, that directly impact the Black community in America: opportunity, security, prosperity, and fairness. The Platinum Plan does take several parts of the CWBA into account.
The President’s plan will create Community Development Financial Institutions dedicated to increasing opportunities for Black small business owners. Alternative credit building methods will be created utilizing consistent payments on rent and utilities. It would make the Minority Business Development Agency permanent and create an African American Affairs sub-committee to bridge the gap between government and private sector agencies. Tax cuts created exclusively for minority-owned businesses to stimulate growth. Close failing schools and institute school choice. Protections and support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Targeted Black apprenticeship and technical programs for quality job readiness. Pell grant access for vocational schools and individuals that were formerly incarcerated. Increase the child tax credit. Focus placed on more study and research into treatment and cures for Black dominated healthcare issues. The building of healthcare facilities in low-income areas through private-public partnerships. Police reform created by local leaders, mental health professionals, law enforcement, and neighborhood leaders building relationships and working together to create plans that best serve their specific communities. The creation of a National Clemency Program to correct wrongful prosecution and keep families together. Placing emphasis on rehabilitation and not incarceration. Provide aid for those formerly incarcerated by way of job placement, mental health care, skill-building programs, and expungement. Focused attention on substance abuse treatment. The advancement of Black homeownership initiatives and opportunities. Help for Black farmers and putting an end to food disparities. Naming the KKK and Antifa terrorist organizations and adding lynching as a federal crime. Making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
The Biden campaign responded to the CWBA via a two-page document with bullet-point ideas to invest in and improve life for Black Americans. The proposal is dated 9/7/20 and is titled “Two Pager on Biden/Harris Economic Proposals for the African American Community” but it is not a full two pages. It brushes over general ideas for improvements to the Black community with only one header titled “Policy – Black Business / Entrepreneur Support”. This is followed by proposals to “improve access to capital for Black entrepreneurs and business owners”. It lists $50 billion in lending and venture capital, making the New Market Tax Credit permanent, doubling direct funds to Community Development Financial Institutions, encouraging lenders to provide loans to people of color, and reforming opportunity zones. It proposes spurring homeownership with a $15,000 down-payment tax credit and building 1.5 million new homes and public housing units. Forgiveness of student loan debt for Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as Minority Serving Institutions for earners making under $125.000 per year. Protect and build on Obamacare and create jobs in infrastructure using $2 trillion dollars to retrofit buildings and homes to convert to clean energy. The creation of five million jobs in manufacturing and innovation and they make a commitment to be 100% carbon pollution free by 2035. Lastly, it says, “Frontline cities get 40% of EJ benefits.”, EJ meaning environmental justice.
A visual comparison of the Platinum Plan and the Biden proposal shows a stark difference in the proposals. The Biden plan looks very anemic, double spaced, generalized, and short. The content of the Biden plan lacks substance, doesn’t explain any connection between some of the proposed changes and the Black community, and does not directly address most of the issues listed in the CWBA such as the most mentioned subject, prison, and police reform. However, the Trump plan falls in line with several points of the CWBA and directly fulfills the demand on issues such as Juneteenth, the KKK, lynching, creation of a permanent legislative committee specifically for Black issues, alternative credit building methods, creation of a National Clemency Program, increased second chance opportunities for those formerly incarcerated and more focus on rehabilitation and not incarceration.
The expectation set in the CWBA is for the plan to be implemented within the first 100 days of the 117th Congress which begins January 2021.