The push for reparations isn’t going away. In fact, it’s gaining more momentum as advocates push their local and state governments to enact reparations policies to right the wrongs done to Black people due to slavery and the brutal Jim Crow laws that followed.
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One city debating about reparations is Chicago doorsteps. Chicago Alderman Roderick Sawyer recently hosted a symposium about “drafting a bill to remedy the city’s own complicity in carrying out national discriminatory policies locally. The harms of those policies still persist today in the forms of segregation and socio-economic disparities among Chicago’s Black residents,” The Final Call reported.
“People think of it as a check and just moving on,” said Sawyer. “That’s not it. That’s not going to make us whole. That is not gonna make up for years of enslavement not just physically but mentally.”
During the symposium held at Malcolm X College, experts recalled 1919 race riots that swept the nation, including Chicago. “The drowning death of a Black teen who entered into the White’s only section of a South Side beach touched off seven days of rioting that left scores—mostly Blacks dead,” The Final Call reported.
Fast forward to the city’s ongoing police violence against Blacks and the housing policies between the 1950s and 1970s.
Other cities in Illinois besides Chicago are looking into reparations.
“The city of Evanston, a small college town to Chicago’s north, drafted what it deemed a “solutions only” reparations bill to address its past racial injustices. The city plans to use revenues from the legal sale of marijuana to fund its reparation package to the tune of $10 million,” The Final Call reported.
“We’ve had hundreds of resolutions, ceremonial actions and honorific notions and it was not enough,” said the bill’s sponsor Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, of Evanston, who attended the symposium. “Why don’t we move past apologies and put some actions and funds behind all these commitments we have articulated all of these years?”
According to evanstonnow.com, the cannabis tax, which wouldn’t go into effect until July, is anticipated to yield $250,000 in revenue in 2020 with the $10 million reparations goal to be funded over the next decade from supplements from private contributions to the fund from businesses and individuals.
New York, California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are some of the states that have begun to draft their own “reparations” legislations.
According to Kamm Howard, of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, America’s racialized policies may have come from Capitol Hill and those policies played out differently at the state level. N’COBRA, a coalition of organizations and individuals, advocates for reparations for African slave descendants in the U.S. N’COBRA is working with Sawyer to develop reparations ordinance using examples from international norms of repair.
“Jim Crow was everywhere in America. It was not just in the South. It was in the North and it showed itself in different ways all-round,” said Howard, N’COBRA’s national co-chair.
Howard pointed out that while states had the responsibility to equitably allocate federal resources, money and resources were not used to make communities of African descent. And actually, Black populations still suffer from poor educational outcomes, economic disinvestments, higher crime rates, low homeownership, and a growing wealth gap recognize, he said.
“It has been many studies over decades that show that race-neutral public policy does not reduce these gaps among these racial lines, but it has to be targeted legislation,” he said. “The only targeted legislation that would address all of these areas is reparations.”