Tlaib joins fight for $14T in reparations for Black Americans
Rashida Tlaib | Andrew Roth
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib is calling on $14 trillion in federal government-funded reparations for descendants of enslaved Black families.
The Detroit Democrat joined U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) who introduced the Reparations Now Resolution, in urging their colleagues to help atone for the practice of slavery and hundreds of years of racist policies that followed.
“Our country promised reparations to our Black neighbors and never followed through, even as other communities were provided some form of reparations,” Tlaib said Thursday. “For centuries, our Black neighbors have endured the brutality of slavery, the violence of white supremacy, the dehumanization of Jim Crow, and the systemic racism that has left a lasting impact on the lives of Black families in our communities. By providing reparations, Congress can begin to address the racial wealth gap, end the decades of disinvestment in communities of color, and dismantle the racist systems that have oppressed our Black neighbors for far too long.”
Reparations could come in the form of direct cash payments and investments in housing and education.
The resolution urges lawmakers to take action on H.R. 40, or the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, a long-stalled bill that Detroit’s late John Conyers first introduced in 1989.
“I am one of the 40 million people in this country descended from enslaved Africans,” Bush said. “Our ancestors were torn away from their homes and families, enslaved, and forced to fuel this country’s economy since the day it was founded. And then they were left landless, impoverished, and disenfranchised.”
The legacy of slavery impacts 57% of Black Americans, according to the Pew Research Center.
Bush said discrimination did not end with slavery, pointing to redlining, segregation, disproportionate poverty rates, community disinvestments, and disparities in education and the justice system.
The resolution includes numerous pages of the federal policies that have discriminated against Black Americans since the nation’s founding.
“Black people continue to bear the harms of slavery and its vestiges, through the Black-white wealth gap, segregation and redlining, disparities in health outcomes, a racist and destructive criminal legal system, and countless other ways,” Bush said. “Yet our federal government refuses to acknowledge the lasting harms of slavery and the unjust world it created for Black people. We know this injustice because we experience it every day. This resolution will move us closer to a federal government that acknowledges its responsibility for this injustice and enacts a holistic and comprehensive reparations package that begins to address the harm it has caused, the wealth it has extracted, and the lives it has stolen.”
The Democrats face an uphill battle. Reparations remain broadly unpopular among Republicans, who control the U.S. Senate.
Still, support for reparations appears to be increasing in some states and local governments. In California, for example, a reparations task force recently approved recommendations that could result in up to $1.2 million each for Black residents older than 50.
In Detroit, 80.1% of voters approved a measure in November 2021 to create a reparations task force to develop recommendations to address the creation of generational wealth and increase economic opportunities for Black residents. The task force recently began meeting.
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