March 28, 2020

It’s time for the Democratic Party to support reparations ​

In the wake of Super Tuesday, the race for the Democratic nomination has now significantly narrowed. 

What began as the more diverse primaries in history has become a fight for the soul of the Democratic party—the left or the center. 

But out of all the issues brought up during the primary this year, I was disappointed by the lack of discussion around reparations for black Americans. While it was mentioned on the debate stage one or twice—the best response coming surprisingly from the heal-it-with-love candidate Marianne Williamson—the Democrats have continued to avoid an issue that should be considered part of the standard platform. 

I was first familiarized with the idea by Ta-Nehisi Coates 2014 article published in the Atlantic, the Case of Reparations, which should absolutely be required reading in American classrooms. 

Since then, there has been more discussion of the issue and even a congressional hearing, and while most surveys still show that the majority of Americans are against cash reparations toward the descendants of slaves, there is still a lacking unified consensus about what the word ‘reparations’ actually means. 

The reality is that reparations can actually mean a lot of different ideas and often comes with multiple components—financial compensation, land acquisition, a formal apology, and investment in black-owned institutions and businesses. In fact, while some countries such as New Zealand’s 2013 reparations package to native people include financial compensation, other models are more focused on improving equity and intergenerational wealth. 

But most importantly, the concept usually centers on the acknowledgement of the situation and its systemic intergeneration ramifications. 

There has to be a recognition of the harm— something that American history books are yet to fully accept. American culture is still drenched in victim-blaming and selective forgetfulness, but bringing the topic of Reparations to the national forefront could be the first step in a needed reckoning. 

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