How The 2020 Democratic Primary Debate Over Reparations For Slavery Is Shaping Up

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Written by Ann Brown
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Marianne Williamson seen on day three of Summit LA17 in Downtown Los Angeles’s Historic Broadway Theater District on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Reparations seem to be the buzzword among the Democrats running for President in the 2020 elections. Some are for it, some are against and the debate continues with no significant plan presented.

“The candidate most fervently backing reparations is Marianne Williamson, a self-help guru and spiritual adviser who wants to set aside $100 billion to $500 billion for a reparations program,” Vox reported.

Here’s what the other candidates are saying about slavery reparations:

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Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., joined by from left, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., right, speaks to media about the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Sen. Kamala Harris

Even though Harris has repeatedly said she is for reparations it’s been hard to pin down exactly what her plan would be. She told the Grio: “If you look at the reality of who will benefit from certain policies, when you take into account that they are not starting on equal footing, it will directly benefit Black children, Black families, Black homes-owners because the disparities are so significant.”

She has referred to the LIFT Act, a tax plan that would provide a tax credit to working singles making $50,000 or less and families making $100,000 or less.

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U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during a town hall style gathering in Woburn, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Warren has not only called for slavery reparations but has called for reparations for Native Americans as well, pointing to her American Housing and Economic Mobility Act.


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“The act would create a housing program that would offer special financial aid to first-time homebuyers in communities affected by redlining, a form of housing discrimination that classified predominantly Black communities and homebuyers as ‘hazardous’ and undesirable, a designation that led to extremely high — if not outright prohibitive — costs of loans to Black homebuyers,” Vox reported.

While Warren’s plan has been praised by some economists who agree it could put a “substantive dent” in the racial wealth gap, since it is not targeters others say it really isn’t reparations.

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Julián Castro, ex secretario de Vivienda y aspirante a la candidatura presidencial demócrata en 2020, habla en la Universidad Saint Anselm en Manchester, New Hampshore, miércoles 16 de enero de 2019. (AP Foto/Mary Schwalm)

Julián Castro

According to former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro, reparations discussions are “worth having” yet he has not offered a proposal for a reparations program. Instead expressed support for a task force on reparations.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Fall Gala, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Sen. Cory Booker

“Booker has proposed a “baby bonds” program that would give every child a savings account, with federal contributions to the account increasing as parental income decreases. He specifically cites this program as addressing the racial wealth gap,” Vox reported.

Still the plan does not meet the race-specific standard needed to qualify as reparations.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., attends a House and Senate conference after GOP leaders announced they have forged an agreement on a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax laws, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Democrats objected to the bill and asked that a final vote be delayed until Sen.-elect Doug Jones of Alabama is seated. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sanders opposed reparations during the 2016 presidential race and has maintained “there are better ways to do that than just writing out a check.”

His reasoning: Programs aimed at the poor more broadly can better help address inequality, he has explained.


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.