reparations

Asheville reparations program sets aside $2.1 million for funding

How that money will be spent is still undecided:

The Asheville City Council approved a budget amendment on Tuesday to pull the money from city land purchased in the 1970s as part of the city’s urban renewal programs that took apart Black communities, the Asheville Citizen Times reported. The city council also adopted a proclamation declaring June 19 as Juneteenth, the date which marks the end of slavery in the U.S.

The City Council has previously said the reparations do not require direct payments but would mandate investments in areas where Black residents face disparities. City Manager Debra Campbell on Tuesday said officials have not yet determined what those investments will entail.

Where they got the money from is just as important as the money itself. It's a tacit admission that the City is responsible for actions taken over a century after the Civil War concluded, and that slavery was only one part of the systemic repression of African-Americans in our state. It's long past time we took a harsh look at redlining and other segregational aspects of the 20th Century. The City is holding a forum today (6 pm) where speakers will discuss the current challenges and take public comments (limited to 2 minutes per). Trying to set up a livestream for later down here:

Orange County Commissioners approve resolution on slavery reparations

But it was not a unanimous vote:

“Even though the vote was 6-1, Earl McKee…was voting against one section. The way I had originally written [the resolution] he was fine with.”

McKee confirmed this on Thursday. "Let me be very clear,” McKee said. “I have no issue or concern with opening or continuing the conversation of if, how, should or when reparations should be discussed. The conversation should be how we ensure a level playing field without obstacles to anyone.”

The only way to "level the playing field" for a population that has been shackled, lynched, denied property rights, segregated, denied access to municipal water & sewer, and a whole laundry list of other discriminatory practices by government and the private sector, is to give them genuine, tangible resources. How you do that is of course the critical question, and I'm not sure the OC Commission is going to put the focus where they need to:

Asheville approves reparation (steps) for slavery

slaveschool.jpg

Social justice can take many forms:

Asheville City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night to provide reparations to black residents and their descendants. The resolution also apologizes for Asheville's role historically in slavery and discrimination. The resolution does not give direct payments to descendants of slaves, but instead allocates money to areas that traditionally see racial disparities.

Those areas include an effort to increase minority home ownership and access to affordable housing. Investments will also be made to increase minority business ownership and career opportunities. Other priorities include closing gaps in health care, education, pay and fairness within the criminal justice system.

This all sounds fantastic, but it will take action more than words to make it effective. And those actions, when they do take place, need to be monitored closely to make sure already well-off (white) people aren't reaping the benefits. Film at eleven.

Commission to study reparations for Slavery on the move in U.S. House

And it's a long time coming:

With the support of a string of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, the idea of reparations for African-Americans is gaining traction among Democrats on Capitol Hill, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi backs the establishment of a commission that would develop proposals and a “national apology” to repair the lingering effects of slavery.

Nearly 60 House Democrats, including Representative Jerrold Nadler, the powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, support legislation to create the commission, which has been stalled in the House for 30 years.

I read the bill last night and noticed a couple of depressing aspects, which combined together severely undercuts the potential of this Commission. First, they're only budgeting $12 million for its entire operation, which would barely scratch the surface of what needs to be researched. And then there's the timeline. One year to make their report to Congress, and then the Commission will be dissolved shortly after. And considering the Commission will also be studying the years that followed the end of slavery (critically important), that budget low-ball is even worse:

Another Case for Reparations

We often talk about social justice at BlueNC, but we rarely talk about reparations. I'd like to take a step in that direction this morning. I'm not an expert on the subject and until recently didn't spend a lot of time thinking about it. This article in the May issue of The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates helped me get over the hurdle of understanding the necessity of reparations.

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

Part of what kept me from embracing the idea of reparations was the enormity of what needs to be done and the knowledge that it won't be enough.

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