The call for reparations has reached white Hollywood, with several celebrities publicly joining a growing number of voices in the effort to repair the legacy of slavery.
In a video from Human Rights Watch, posted by progressive social media-focused news organization NowThis, several celebrities can be seen talking about the need for reparations.
Comedian Chelsea Handler was one of the voices in the video: “We’re out of excuses as a country, so please stop making them. We built this country on the backs of Black and brown people and haven’t really done anything to say, ‘f**k”, she said.
Actress Alyssa Milano added, “If we were to stop talking about racism tomorrow do you think that that would stop another unarmed Black person from being shot and killed by the police?”
Other voices on the video included hip-hop- and spoken-word artist Toni Blackman as well as several politicians and Black leaders including former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson and former NAACP leader Ben Jealous.
“We need to have some truth-telling and we need to have repair, truth, and reconciliation,” declared former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, ex-co-chairwoman of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman explained the need for reparations due to “slavery, followed by the Black laws, followed by Jim Crow, followed by housing discrimination, mass incarceration, drugs being brought into our communities, the war on drugs, underfunded schools…”
They all called on President Joe Biden to move forward on reparations.
Some on Twitter were skeptical about the celebrity involvement.
“@Alyssa_Milano and @chelseahandler must be auditioning for some role. There’s no way they care this much. The #metoo train has run dry so here they are trying to be “understanding” . You two can’t listen if you keep talking,” posted one user.
Another agreed, “We always knew there would be attempts to co-opt and repurpose the reparations movement. The presence of white women celebrities in this space should raise all the red flags. #TheyWereHerProperty”
But some were happy that Hollywood has co-signed on the need for reparations. “Thank you so much to all of you who made this video. I stand & support you & the efforts for reparations. We must go to the heart of the problem to eradicate the symptoms of racism. God bless y’all”, a Twitter user posted.
The time for the U.S. to account for its legacy of slavery is long overdue, Human Rights Watch said in support of H.R. 40, which seeks a commission to study the need and feasibility of reparations.
“The mass protests stemming from pervasive racial inequality and unlawful killings and deaths of Black people, like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Layleen Polanco and Tony McDade, reflect America’s failure to provide redress for this long history of abuse,” the human rights organization said.
The HRW statement was co-signed by progressive civil rights advocacy group Color of Change; National African American Reparations Commission, which is made up of professionals in law, medicine, journalism, academia, history, civil rights, and social justice advocacy; The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA); The National Council of the Churches, the largest ecumenical body in the U.S., among others.
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Reparations were discussed earlier today at 10 a.m. EST, when the House Judiciary Committee debated the H.R. 40 bill for the first time ever and held a markup during the live-streamed event.
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