Forget The Rising Tide: Reparations For Slavery Have To Be More Than Symbolic

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Written by Ann Brown
Reparations
In this Feb. 23, 2019, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at the Story County Democrats’ annual soup supper fundraiser in Ames, Iowa. Several Democratic presidential candidates are embracing reparations for the descendants of slaves _ but not in the traditional sense. Over the past week, Harris, Elizabeth Warren and former Obama cabinet secretary Julian Castro spoke of the need for the U.S. government to reckon with and make up for slavery. But instead of backing the direct compensation for African-Americans, they are talking about more universal policies that would also benefit blacks. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

For decades, the subject of slavery reparations pops up year after year. There has been talk of giving Blacks the 40 acres and a mule they were promised at the end of slavery. There has been talk about special tax breaks for Blacks, or for a fund to be set up for Black children. Then there has been talk of money being equally distributed. But now it seems like the subject of reparations is being taken seriously.

A larger number of the presidential candidates are talking about reparations — either nay or yay, but they are talking. From Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris to Bernie Sanders, the 2020 Presidential election candidates have reparations on their mind.


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“I have a specific agenda for the American people,” said Booker on the “The Breakfast Club” radio show last month when asked about reparations.

Still, the plans for reparations widely vary. And the question remains: “how can Black Americans, first enslaved and then legally barred from participating in capitalism for the overwhelming majority of this country’s history, begin to catch up without a systemic adjustment to the system?” The Intercept reported.

According to some estimates, it will take an incredible 228 years for “Black Americans to earn as much wealth as white Americans possess today, at which point blacks still would not have drawn even, because whites would presumably have accrued more wealth during that time as well. Simply put, closing the racial wealth gap demands a systemic approach,” The Intercept reported.

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Reparations
In this Feb. 22, 2019, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s 60th Annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner in Manchester, N.H. Several Democratic presidential candidates are embracing reparations for the descendants of slaves _ but not in the traditional sense. Over the past week, Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and former Obama cabinet secretary Julian Castro spoke of the need for the U.S. government to reckon with and make up for slavery. But instead of backing the direct compensation for African-Americans, they are talking about more universal policies that would also benefit blacks. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Booker has offered a baby bonds plan as part of a Black-centric agenda, It “addresses all Americans,” Booker explained, “but it actually helps the racial wealth gap in a significant way,” by creating a savings account for low-income students. And he added, a criminal justice bill should be included in a reparations packages as the beneficiaries of which would be overwhelmingly African-American: “When you fix the system, you help poor white folks who get screwed by the system as well, but disproportionately, you’re gonna help those people who are most affected by an unjust criminal justice system,” he argued.

Harris has argued that the Black agenda “must include HBCUs,” and she pointed to her LIFT bill, which would give families making under $100,000 a year a monthly tax credit. She also includes criminal justice reform and maternal mortality.


About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.