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Biden-Harris administration takes steps to combat systemic racism, promote racial equity

Northwestern experts available to comment on executive actions

EVANSTON, Ill., --- The Biden-Harris administration sent a strong message of commitment to advance racial justice with a series of four executive actions signed yesterday (Jan. 26).

The actions call for federal departments to enact steps in ending discriminatory housing policies and the use of private prisons, as well as reaffirm the government’s commitment to tribal sovereignty. The fourth action calls for an end to xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

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Alvin B. Tillery Jr. is an associate professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy. His research and teaching interests are in the fields of American politics and political theory. His research focuses on American political development, racial and ethnic politics and media and politics. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Tillery
“Joe Biden is off to an incredibly strong start in living up to his promise to combat systemic racism and promote racial equity in American society. While we are just seven days into his administration, President Biden has already written far more sweeping executive orders aimed at promoting racial equality than either of his two immediate Democratic predecessors did over the entire courses of their presidencies. Moreover, Mr. Biden is the first president since Lyndon Johnson to place a racial equity lens — as opposed to an anti-discrimination framework — at the center of his administration’s work.

“To be sure, President Biden’s ability to move so swiftly and forcefully in this area with executive actions reflects how the country’s shifting demographics have changed the political calculus for Democratic presidents. It would be a mistake, however, to just dismiss President Biden’s actions through the cynical framework of red meat for his constituency. What we have seen from Mr. Biden in his early statements about racial equity is that he was affected by the Black Lives Matter protests that took place last summer in the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and that he is sincerely committed to doing this work for the nation.”   

Doug Kiel is an expert on Native American history and politics who has written extensively about Indigenous land rights. He is an assistant professor in the department of history and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities as well as faculty affiliate in the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. He can be reached at 847-467-4821 or by email at