Posted by 17 February 2021
Reparations for slavery are on the agenda for the House of Representatives today.
The Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties is holding a hearing on HR 40, legislation that would establish a commission to study reparations. This commission would study how the federal and state governments supported slavery, what types of discrimination continues to exit, and how the effects of slavery still affect African Americans today. The commission would then recommend remedies in the form of reparations based on its findings.
Backers of this legislation say that it is a vital part of how the U.S. will address the wrongs of the past that have led to the current situation of African Americans. They argue that the legacy of slavery has led to inequalities today, so reparations will help rectify this situation. They also contend that federal actions over the past 160 years such as mandatory discrimination and the refusal of federal agencies to lend to African Americans illustrates the justice of reparations.
Critics of the measure push back against these claims, arguing that slavery ended long ago and that no one living was a slave. Reparations, they say, are appropriate for individuals hurt by a government action, but not for their descendants 100 years later. They also point out that there are already many federal programs that seek to alleviate inequality.
The idea of reparations has gained strength in recent years. Both President Biden and Vice President Harris have endorsed the idea of studying the issue, although they have not supported specifics.
Do you support studying whether or not the federal government should pay slavery reparations?