The issue of financial reparations to Black Americans because of slavery has been discussed for many years.
During the 2020 election cycle, candidate Marianne Williamson was one of the few Democrats to come out strongly in favor, while President Biden remained vague about his position.
According to a 2019 poll done by the University of Chicago, 75% of Black Americans support some form of reparations but only 15% of White Americans support it.
Republicans have generally opposed reparations, arguing that it is best to leave the past in the past and improve the economy overall rather than paying Black Americans for things which happened hundreds of years ago.
But now the Biden Administration is reportedly moving forward on reparations and White House Senior Adviser Cedric Richmond said that it’s “doable” going forward.
When Will Reparations Happen?
According to Richmond, Congress is likely to form a commission on reparations and he has some ideas about good starting points for looking at how to start paying back historical injustice.
“If you start talking about free college tuition to [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] and you start talking about free community college in Title I and all of those things, I think that you are well on your way,” Richmond said, adding that:
“We have to start breaking down systemic racism and barriers that have held people of color back and especially African-Americans. We have to do stuff now.”
Although the exact timeline remains unclear, Richmond said he’s encouraged by executive actions such as a recent one by Biden to make housing less segregated by class and ethnic lines and ensure that “African-Americans can pass down wealth through homeownership, that their homes are not valued less than homes in different communities just because of the neighborhood it’s in.”
This sounds fair on the surface, but there’s a lot more underneath. Also does Biden do anything except write executive orders? Dear Lord.
— Danny Glover (@mrdannyglover) February 24, 2021
‘Start Acting Now’
According to Richmond, things like the executive order show that White House is ready to “start acting now” before any study from Congress or other process starts moving reparations forwards.
The modern history of reparations entered Congress with the late Democratic Representative John Conyers in 1989 and has been brought forward again since that time by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. There’s been a renewed push for reparations since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and public anger over the death of George Floyd last summer.
Biden already said he’s open to a commission on it last month, with Press Secretary Jen “Circle Back” Psaki saying Biden would “certainly support a study of reparations” and adding that “he understands we don’t need a study to take action right now on systemic racism, so he wants to take actions within his own government in the meantime.”
While anything that improves the lives of Americans during this difficult time is a welcome sign, this is not the time to be dividing people further on the basis of their skin tone and heritage.
Biden hasn’t even gotten out his $2,000 ($1,400) checks yet and he’s already got his top adviser talking about sending out money but just to Black Americans? This kind of messaging is what drives radicalization and political extremism.
People are hungry and out of work right now across the country, and hunger doesn’t have a skin color. Whether or not you support reparations, it’s not the time to be singling people out based on their race and making divisions in this country even stronger and more intense. Let’s get the basics done first and then we can talk about reparations.