Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg celebrated President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill on Monday, specifically referring to provisions in the bill to address infrastructure deemed by the federal government as racist.
Buttigieg noted that fixing racist infrastructure was a priority of the Biden administration, as a billion dollars was passed as part of the Reconnecting Communities Initiative in the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Buttigieg spoke about the program during the White House press briefing, criticizing Americans who even questioned the idea that racist infrastructure projects existed.
“I’m still surprised that some people were surprised that when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of deciding a white and a black neighborhood,” Buttigieg said.
Some infrastructure projects of the past, he argued, were specifically designed to separate neighborhoods, apologizing for the federal government’s role in the project.
“Sometimes it was federal dollars that divided a community often along racial lines,” he said, pointing to “racism that went into those design choices.”
After a reporter asked Buttigieg how he could “deconstruct racism that was build into the roadways,” the secretary said the administration would “get to work right away” on the project.
“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.”
Buttigieg has a history of talking about racist infrastructure, beginning in his campaign and continuing through his Senate confirmation hearings for the cabinet level position.
“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,” he told the Grio in April.