We call for Reparations Now. As stated on our platform page, the first stage of reparations creates an educational equity foundation by providing free education for all African American up to a bachelors degree. The funding will be used to supplement current Financial Aid programs where appropriate. The second stage of reparations address the Wealth Gap.
A significant wealth gap exists between Black and White Americans. The wealth gap refers to accumulated wealth that is passed on from generation to generation. While whites had the freedom to accumulate wealth over a period of a few hundred years the barriers of slavery and systemic racism imposed upon Black Americans, including income and education, prevented them from taking advantage of the opportunities available to their white counterparts. A black family may have a higher salary than a white family but still have less accumulated wealth. The black family may be the first generation to be able to pass on wealth to their children, unlike their white neighbors who may have been doing so for a century or more. The Brookings Institute reported that in 2016 net worth of a “typical white family was $171,600 while that of a black family was $17,150, approximately 10% of white wealth.
The legacy oppression continues to exist to this day. Not only does it exist in the form of the wealth gap but also in the form of disparities in education. After slavery, black people were provided with a substandard education if they were allowed to attend school at all. Many children could not be spared from their sharecropped farms or other wage earning opportunities to attend school on a regular basis. It only takes a quick perusal of census records from 1870-1940 to see the limited educational levels obtained by many people at the time. Lack of education coupled with racism made certain that most black people held low wage jobs. Even now, this trend continues and many African Americans hold low wage jobs that often require them to work more than one job. Working two or three jobs does not allow parents to attend to their children's educational needs such as overseeing their homework or advocating for their children in school. Many parents’ own parents were unable to attend to their children’s education resulting in a lack of awareness of the need for homework supervision and advocacy in their own children’s lives.
There must be a sustained, multilevel effort to close the wealth gap as well as confront the systemic and public policies that fuel and sustain it. Financial reparations would immediately work to narrow the gap. Increased homeownership has been suggested as a means to further close the gap as well. An article published by DEMOS showed that individual choices such as consumption habits, education, full or part-time work, and family structure do not explain the existence of the wealth gap. https://www.demos.org/research/asset-value-whiteness-understanding-racial-wealth-gap
The existence of this gap must also be widely dispersed. A 2017 study highlighted the “vast and persistent economic disparity between Black and White families in the United States, of which Americans seem largely unaware.” Their “research documented both the pervasiveness and magnitude of this general lack of awareness and relevant socio-structural correlates…” https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/09/12/1707719114.full
Many people misunderstand the need for reparations. African Americans would not be getting “a free ride”. The cumulative effects of slavery, and racism have prevented Black people from taking advantage of the financial opportunities that were rightfully theirs as citizens of this nation. They were likewise denied their unalienable right to obtain an education, work at a job that paid well and accumulate money to pass down to the next generations who likewise had the right to take advantage of financial opportunities in the same manner as their white counterparts.
Financial reparations, will serve to mitigate some of the issues of inequity that exist in the Black community. Yet other forms of reparations are necessary as well. In a historical move, the city of Asheville NC recently approved reparations for its Black residents. Their program includes "investments in areas where Black residents face disparities." The program includes, but is not limited to "increasing minority home ownership and access to other affordable housing, increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the gaps in health care, education, employment and pay, neighborhood safety and fairness within criminal justice"
In the end, the Federal government must act to ensure that we bring an end to generations of structural poverty, discrimination, and disparity in health and wealth. At the core of this great American challenge is the history of slavery and its repair and national healing by means of providing reparations for African American citizens.