This Black History Month, Biden has a lot to brag about. He should do it more often.

OPINION: “Office Hours with Professor Greer” is theGrio’s political column series focused on the 2024 election and what’s at stake for Black voters. In this column, Dr. Christina M. Greer debunks the myth that President Biden hasn’t done very much for Black people.

President Joe Biden,
The White House press secretary told theGrio when asked that while the Biden administration would not comment directly on the proposed legislation, President Joe Biden "respects D.C.’s right to pass measures that strengthen both public safety and public trust." (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images) 

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

If I were advising the Biden-Harris administration, I would highlight its various accomplishments over the past three-plus years. However, just like the Obama administration, President Joe Biden and his team seem content with consistently burying their light under a bushel. It incenses me when I hear folks say, “The Biden administration has done nothing for Black people.” This is categorically not true. But, then again, it is also not my job to give communications and public relations advice to this White House. 

The list of Biden’s accomplishments is plentiful, and as we get closer to Election Day on Nov. 5, it would behoove the president’s 2024 reelection campaign to make a concerted effort to educate and/or refamiliarize voters, especially Black voters — and more specifically, Black male voters — on the feats the president has achieved since taking office on Jan. 20, 2021. 

Narratives are flooding the airwaves that Black men are defecting from the Democratic Party in droves. It doesn’t help that influential rappers like 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube have an aspiration fetish to be associated with faux-billionaire Donald Trump. Their hagiography of the former Republican president and their refusal to see the dangers he presents for democracy more broadly make the November election even more critical for Black Americans. 

President Biden is not a perfect candidate or president, but neither were the other 45 former U.S. commander-in-chiefs. Assessing the record of Joe Biden when compared to his predecessors in recent decades, none have done more to specifically address the racial wealth gap and implement long-term, inclusive policies that specifically aid Black families for years to come. 

Sure, Trump worked with Congress to issue a one-time stimulus check just before the 2020 presidential election to offset his policies that nearly bankrupted the broader economy and ensured tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Trump’s version of trickle-down Reaganomics did not and will never reach Black communities. 

Democratic presidents consistently must rebuild the social safety net Republican presidents have destroyed, and Biden is no exception. From education and the environment to voting protections, President Biden has endeavored to lay a foundation for long-term economic growth and not a one-time or get-rich-quick scheme, something  Trump is known for throughout his career.

If one believes descriptive representation matters, then Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as the first Black American, South Asian American and first female vice president and his appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black female Supreme Court justice, is historic and should not be overlooked. 


In the centuries of appointments, never have Black women been elevated to such consequential positions. Psychological literature is clear that if you can see it, you are more likely to be it. Biden has laid a foundation and a sense of normalcy for young girls and boys who now see Black women at the highest levels of American government.

During the height of the political and social reckonings following the inhumane murder of George Floyd, then-presidential candidate Biden made it clear that he would not lead a “good people on both sides” administration. In 2021, President Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, becoming only the 11th American federal holiday on the books. More significantly, Juneteenth was the first to obtain legal observance as a federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was designated in 1983. One year later, President Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, a federal law that defines lynching as a federal hate crime. This law also increases the maximum penalty to 30 years imprisonment for several hate crime offenses.

In addition to signing important legislation pertaining to commemorating African-American history and protecting Black people – and all vulnerable Americans – from hate crimes, President Biden also signed an executive order advancing parts of the yet-to-be-passed John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The order clearly outlines the factors courts must consider when hearing challenges to voting practices. As recent elections have shown, the protection of the ballot box is of great importance in securing the future of our democratic republic and ensuring African American electoral equity. 

The Biden-Harris administration also expanded the Affordable Care Act and, according to KFF, an independent source for health policy research, “expanded Medicaid coverage to nearly all adults with incomes up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level ($20,120 for an individual in 2024) and provided states with an enhanced federal matching rate (FMAP) for their expansion populations.”

Then there’s student loan forgiveness. Need I say more? Through the Biden-Harris administration’s student debt relief programs, it has wiped away college debt for more than 3.7 million Americans, totaling roughly $136.6 billion and counting. This is a concrete step toward leveling the playing ground and helping hundreds of thousands of Black Americans begin a journey toward accumulating generational wealth without the anvil of student debt hanging above their heads. No other president has provided this much economic assistance to Black Americans. 

President Biden has said throughout his career that “a budget is a moral document.” It is true that how a country spends its money is a clear indication of priorities, and much of the legislation the president has signed into law illustrates that. This declaration is also somewhat complicated at this particular moment because of the reality that many Black Americans do not support the Biden administration’s moral and economic support for Israel and its war in Gaza. Many Americans do not understand how a wealthy nation can continue to contribute to overseas battles in Ukraine, Israel, Iran and elsewhere while American children are attending subpar schools and living in crumbling neighborhoods. These problems domestically and abroad did not start, and, sadly, nor will they end with Joe Biden.

The 2024 election is not a magical purity test; it is truly an election for the soul and future of the nation.  It is not rocket science. Donald Trump has made clear his intentions to completely gut the social safety net, deport as many people as possible and double down on a “Christian” white nationalist agenda. The former president also intends to continue his smash-and-grab presidency and enrich himself and his friends along the way. The first time in office, Trump scoped the joint and actually had people around him who served as stopgaps for his outlandish and draconian plans. But if he is reelected, American democracy will not be so lucky. 

Nov. 5 is not a time for a purity test. It is a time to be a strategic voter and to think about you, your family, your community, and the larger fiscal and moral trajectory of the nation. Biden is an imperfect package, long in the tooth and does not always get it right. However, he is a man who has shown throughout his presidency that he cares about the citizens (and non-citizens) of this nation.

Christina Greer Headshot

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University; author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream”; and co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and host of “The Blackest Questions” podcast at TheGrio. She is a 2023-24 Moynihan Public Scholars Fellow at CCNY. 

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