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Buttigieg Asked How He Plans to 'Deconstruct the Racism That Was Built Into the Roadways'

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is being asked how the administration plans to “deconstruct” racism that was “built into” roadways.

During a White House press briefing on Monday, White House correspondent for The Grio April Ryan asked, “Can you give us the construct of how you will deconstruct the racism that was built into roadways that you talked to The Grio [about] earlier when you broke that information with us. Can you talk to us about how that will be deconstructed?”

Buttigieg responded by noting, “at least 40 percent of the clean investments in this [infrastructure] bill will go to benefit the communities that are overburdened and underserved.”

He explained:

“So Part One of that is defining those investments that are eligible, and that’s a lot of it, and we’re working to map out kind of program by program, mode by mode what would qualify. For example, if we’re buying clean buses, how do we make sure where those buses go?”

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He added, “I’m still surprised that some people were surprised when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a White and a Black neighborhood or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach, or that would have been, in New York was designed too low for it to pass by, that that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices.”

Finally, he said, “I don’t think we have anything to lose by confronting that simple reality, and I think we have everything to gain by acknowledging it and then dealing with it, which is why they are reconnecting communities that billion dollars is something we want to get to work right away putting to work.”

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Finally, Buttigieg said some roadways that were “meant to be racist” may have to be deconstructed.

During an interview with The Grio in April, Buttigieg said, “There is racism physically built into some of our highways, and that’s why the jobs plan has specifically committed to reconnect some of the communities that were divided by these dollars.”

The exchange comes after the House passed the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will now go to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

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