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What Happened to Reparations?

4 mins read

What happened to reparations? See how this works. The unwritten rule is give them one thing and they will forget about everything else. Popularly known as bait and switch. We demanded an African American female on the ticket but we never said or meant that that demand represented all of our demands.  Four nights of political fluff disguised as a convention and not a single word about reparations. Not a single word.  

During the Democratic Primary campaign season, everyone was talking about reparations, HR 40, and the need for dialogue.  With the notable and courageous exceptions of Marianne Williamson and Tom Styer none of the candidates supported reparations without reservations   but all would agree to “study reparations.”  Problem is that HR 40, a bill that called for a comprehensive study of the issue,  was introduced in 1989 and reintroduced in every congress thereafter.  Nearly three decades and no study. 

This is why proportional representation is so important. This is why the party wants our output (our vote) but not our input.  If we were represented at the leadership level of the party in numbers reflective of our undisputed status as the core constituency of the party, the top priorities of the party’s platform, the policies it advances and supports as well as its forward trajectory would undoubtedly be different. Seventy-five percent of African Americans (why not 100% is beyond my understanding) are in favor of reparations. And here’s what we got.  A platform that is not, I repeat, is not binding on anyone – least of all the president.  The 2020 Democratic Platform is 80 pages long and here’s what we got. A paragraph –  46 words!

Here they are: 46 words on reparations 

“We believe Black lives matter and will establish a national commission to examine the lasting economic effects of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and racially discriminatory federal policies on income, wealth, educational, health, and employment outcomes; to pursue truth and promote racial healing, and to study reparations.” 

About HR40

This is, in effect, HR40 A bill introduced by the late Congressman John Conyers (D) in 1989 and reintroduced every year since (sponsored anew by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D) in 116th Congress 2019-2020). In its preamble HR 40 reads:  

“To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African  Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.”

Since 1989 there have been a total of nine United States Congresses in which Democrats controlled the house; two times when Democrats controlled the Presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Yet HR 40 was never even debated. But have no fear our party believes black lives matter and promises to “study reparations”.  

Johnnie Cordero is an African American thought leader who identifies as a Radical Centrist. He is the current Chairman of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina. Cordero is the host of the “Radical Review” podcast and is a frequent political contributor and commentator for The MinorityEye. Cordero holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Doctorate in Jurisprudence. He is the author of ‘Total Black Empowerment: A Guide to Critical Thinking in the Age of Trump.’ His new book ‘Theodicy and The Power of the African Will’ is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online book sellers.

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