How The Idea Of Reparations For Black Americans Is Getting Closer To Reality
It’s been a long road for the concept of reparations for Black Americans, but it seems like it is moving closer to reality. Many of the 2020 Democratic candidates have been discussing and in some cases endorsing the idea of reparation. The word is on the lips of everyone from Kamala Harris to Cory Booker to Elizabeth Warren.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 51: Bärí A. Williams Jamarlin talks to tech attorney and diversity strategist Bärí Williams about her experience working at Facebook and whether Trump could be talking about Sen. Cory Booker when he claims he could blackmail a U.S. Senator. They also discuss some criticism of Sen. Kamala Harris that is “out of pocket.”
Reparations would be an effort to address the wrongs done to Blacks in America, though there has not been any agreement as to how this would materialize.
Reparations has been give before to other groups. “We know this in part from the experience of Japanese-Americans. Those who were ‘interned’ (read: incarcerated) as ‘enemy aliens’ during World War II waited more than 30 years before they received compensation for the wrong done to them. Congress created a commission of inquiry in 1980 to address the issues. On the basis of its recommendations, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 provided for $20,000 for each surviving internee as well as an official apology from the government. The legislation was designed specifically to ensure that other groups—African-Americans, in particular—would not see the law as a precedent,” Forbes reported.
The problem is slavery was so long ago that it would be difficult to find the descendants of all those who were enslaved.
Back in the late 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson empaneled the Kerner Commission following a number of major urban riots. The commission concluded: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one Black, one white—separate and unequal” and that “white racism” was the cause.
“The commission recommended massive programs to attack the impoverishment of urban ghettos and to improve the well-being of the Black population. But the recommendations got caught in the meat-grinder of presidential politics and Johnson, who had done so much to improve the situation of blacks up till that point, essentially ignored the findings. And since the Kerner Commission, no such major official effort has been mounted to understand and respond to the inequalities suffered by Black Americans,” Forbes reported.
Still, there might be hope.
“Despite the enthusiasm of some Democratic presidential hopefuls and the increased recent attention to the topic, there remain many doubters who would have to be persuaded before reparations could become reality. A commission of inquiry into historic inequalities is likely the best and most politically plausible way to address them. It worked for the Japanese-Americans, and perhaps it will for African-Americans as well,” Forbes reported.