Black Residents Reject Woke Town's Reparations Because the Deal Wasn't Sweet Enough


It was about time that local leftists did something.

Did. Something.

So in an Illinois suburb north of Chicago, in March the mostly white city council of the town that the conservative website Frontpage Mag calls “The People’s Republic of Evanston” passed an ordinance aimed at providing reparations of a sort to its black residents.

It’s believed Evanston was the first city to do such a thing.

Of course, to be on the side of the angels sometimes takes money.

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No problem. The city put a 3 percent tax on – are you ready? – local recreational cannabis sales.

And Evanston had a trifecta: Undeniable virtue-signaling, demonstrated concern for a minority, and a taxation plan showing a kind of conventional dimension to the cannabis market. Cool.

But as with so many leftist schemes, pesky reality got in the way. No matter what the angels might think, things like this so often come back to money — who gets it and where it comes from.

What’s more, people the leftists wanted to help called the program “racist” — because it doesn’t go far enough.

Should reparations be paid to black Americans?

Who said it’s easy to be a liberal?

“There’s still so much misinformation or lack of information that black residents here in Evanston still don’t understand what this program is,” Sebastian Nalls, a black Evanston resident and a founder of the group Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations, said in an interview published last week in The Guardian, a leftist newspaper based in the U.K. but with a U.S. edition.

The group was formed in February — before the reparations plan had even passed.

“And there are plenty of black residents that still believe that they’re going to be getting direct cash payments, because that’s how the reparations program was framed when it was first introduced in 2019,” Nalls told The Guardian.

“Direct cash payments” aren’t part of the plan. So, clearly, the deal wasn’t sweet enough.

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Instead, the idea was to provide a $25,000 grant for housing to black families in Evanston demonstrably affected by past discrimination. But that amount wouldn’t make a huge dent in the city’s average $300,000 single-family home cost, according to the Guardian.

Then there was the issue of how much money was in the reparations fund: All of $400,000. Do the math: That would only aid 16 households.

So hundreds of black Evanston residents are objecting to the city council’s offer, Black Enterprise reported in June.

Objections include the paltry individual sums, restrictions of the program to home owners and home buyers, and lack of community input in developing the program, according to Black Enterprise.

“Residents also have to work with local banks, which many say have a history of practicing discrimination,” Black Enterprise noted.

That was particularly grating to critics like Nalls.

“The beneficiaries of this program would be those who initially did the harm of redlining here in Evanston,” Nalls said in the Black Enterprise report. “Black Evanston residents need to be determining their own repair.”

The criticism is all a far cry from the good publicity the town received at first.

As The Guardian noted: “It gained national attention, heralded by celebrities such as Danny Glover, who called the debate over reparations ‘the most intense conversation that we’re going to have in the 21st century’. But just months ahead of putting it in action, local residents are warning national advocates to view Evanston as a cautionary tale as much as a historic first.”

Academics and activists outside Evanston are critics of the program as well.

While they called the Evanston program “a good step to take,” A. Kirsten Mullen and William A. Darity, Jr., authors of “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century” wrote in a Washington Post commentary in March piece that, “This is a housing voucher program, not reparations – and calling it that does more harm than good.”

Darity is a professor of public policy, African and African-American studies, and economics at North Carolina’s Duke University. Mullen, is a writer, lecturer and museum consultant.

They wrote in the Post that true national reparations “would ultimately require an expenditure of $14 trillion.” Since the total of all state and local government spending is but $3.1 trillion annually, efforts like those of Evanston, in effect, mean nothing.

“But a sufficiently committed federal government – one that found more than $5 trillion in a single year to answer the COVID-19 emergency – can achieve it,” they wrote.

Despite the advocacy of writers like Darity and Mullen’s and the virtue signaling of liberals in places like Evanston, 62 percent of Americans oppose reparations, according to a University of Massachusetts Amherst poll, and 46 percent are against involvement by the federal government in it.

And Darity and Mullen do not tell us how we’re going to pay that $5 trillion for COVID, much less an additional $14 trillion for reparations.

Think about it. All that money. It may be enough to make the angels weep.

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Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.