Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey announced on Monday he will introduce legislation that would create a commission to study the issue of granting reparations to African-Americans.
The Democratic presidential candidate tweeted, “I am proud to introduce legislation that will finally address many of our country’s policies—rooted in a history of slavery and white supremacy—that continue to erode Black communities, perpetuate racism and implicit bias, and widen the racial wealth gap.”
I am proud to introduce legislation that will finally address many of our country’s policies—rooted in a history of slavery and white supremacy—that continue to erode Black communities, perpetuate racism and implicit bias, and widen the racial wealth gap.https://t.co/5x7bdfncbZ
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 8, 2019
In a statement to The Grio, Booker elaborated, “Many of our bedrock domestic policies that have ushered millions of Americans into the middle class have systematically excluded blacks through practices like GI Bill discrimination and redlining.”
Redlining was the practice of banks denying mortgages in economically struggling areas, as determined by government surveys. Redlining tended to disproportionately impact minorities, The Washington Post reported. The 1968 Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in housing.
“This bill is a way of addressing head-on the persistence of racism, white supremacy, and implicit racial bias in our country,” Booker said of his proposed reparations commission. “It will bring together the best minds to study the issue and propose solutions that will finally begin to right the economic scales of past harms and make sure we are a country where all dignity and humanity is affirmed.”
Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas has introduced reparations legislation in the House, known as H.R. 40, which Booker’s bill is modeled after.
“I am pleased that Senator Booker has introduced a Senate Companion to H.R. 40. I salute his dedication to elevating the discussion of reparations and reparatory justice, and look forward to the dialogue that this issue engenders on and off Capitol Hill,” Jackson Lee said in a statement.
The bill states: “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.”
The Hill reported that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi supports Jackson Lee’s legislation.
While the bill calls for a commission to study the issue of reparations, it does not specifically call for African-Americans to receive payments from the government.
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas stated at the National Action Network event last week that if they were elected president, they would sign legislation like Jackson Lee has introduced.
Brandon Tatum, director of Urban Engagement with Turning Point USA, tweeted that “Reparations is another dream Democrats are selling black folks in order to get votes.”
In another tweet, he contended that Democrats, not Republicans, have a history of the maltreatment of African-Americans.
“Quit saying white people have a history of racism and owe black folks reparations,” Tatum tweeted. “No, the Democrats, not Republicans, have a legacy of slavery, racism, and destroying black communities all over the country. Democrats owe the black community an apology.”
Quit saying white people have a history of racism and owe black folks reparations.
No, the Democrats, not Republicans, have a legacy of slavery, racism, and destroying black communities all over the country.
Democrats owe the black community an apology.
— Brandon Tatum (@TheOfficerTatum) April 7, 2019
The Republican Party was formed in the 1850s to oppose the growth of slavery, which the Democratic Party supported.
The first GOP president, Abraham Lincoln, oversaw the demise of slavery and the Republican-controlled House and Senate passed three post-Civil War amendments, ending involuntary servitude, guaranteeing equal protection under the law to all races and the right to vote for African-Americans.
Democratic-controlled state legislatures in the South responded by passing Jim Crow laws, which made African-Americans second-class citizens.
Conservative black activist Horace Cooper, who is co-chair of Project 21, argued on Fox News last week reparations do not make sense.
“There is no correlation between the status of a black American, white American or brown American today and what happened with slavery,” he said.
“We have had an intermixing and immigration effort that has changed and transformed the makeup of this country. You’re not even able to identify. Does Kamala Harris – is she a beneficiary?”
Harris’ father is an immigrant from Jamaica, and her mother is from India.
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