Tell Congress: Pass H.R. 40 to begin the process of reparations
"Liberty and justice for all" will never be true in America unless we fully reckon with the 200+ years of slavery and its ongoing impact on our culture.
Systemic racism did not end with slavery. The government and mainstream white society forced Black people to endure 90 years of Jim Crow, 60 years of segregation, and 35 years of legal housing and banking discrimination. Despite policy changes, the effects of this institutional bigotry still linger. Today, Black people also bear the brunt of the country's mass incarceration crisis and are disproportionately harmed by pay inequality, gender bias, the health care crisis and more.1
We must make amends. And for the first time since the Reconstruction Era, members of Congress and even presidential candidates are having conversations about reparations at scale.2 We cannot let this moment pass by without putting pressure on Congress to act.
Tell Congress: Pass H.R. 40 to begin the process of reparations. Click here to sign the petition.
Congress just held a historic hearing to discuss H.R. 40, a bill that would require the U.S. government to develop reparations proposals, ensuring that all Black Americans receive restitution.3 This important legislation would bring the country one step closer to achieving racial justice.
It's important to remember that the demand for reparations isn't new. Restitution for descendants of enslaved Africans reaches back to right after the Civil War. 4 Activists, civil rights groups, and academics all cited lengthy lists of racial disparities that occurred after the Emancipation Proclamation, including the racial wealth gap that shows that white households 10 times wealthier than Black households and the mass incarceration of Black people.5
It is past time to begin the process of reconciliation, but,federal lawmakers have not had serious discussions about reparations for decades. Now, 91 members of Congress are co-sponsoring H.R. 40. Several Democratic presidential candidates went on record in support of reparations.
It's not surprising that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his cronies are against even studying reparations and refuse to acknowledge that slavery, racism and state-sanctioned violence against Black people formed the very foundation of the systems they benefit from daily.
This week, McConnell turned to desperate tactics to silence demands for reparations.6 He twisted President Obama's words and tried to undermine Obama's Blackness to sanitize his own racist stance against reparations. While it's true that Obama's views on reparations are lackluster, McConnell's attempt at equating a Black man's experience with his own is steeped in racism and shows just how low McConnell is willing to go to protect the white supremacy at the core of his party and agenda. McConnell is scared. We need to keep the momentum going.
Republicans in Congress are going to do everything they can to block H.R. 40 and stymie discussions to move the struggle for reparations forward, but we need to build more and more power to make their racist views increasingly toxic to their party.
When it comes to Democratic members of Congress, there's no excuse for any of them not to be a co-sponsor of H.R. 40. Raising our voices now helps pressure them to do the right thing.
No amount of monetary or material resources can heal the damage done by slavery and the racial oppression that came after "emancipation." Reparations are about respect and reconciliation. We have a huge and urgent opportunity to push our lawmakers to open the door to true racial justice in this country, but it's going to take all of us to get there and we need to start now.
Tell Congress: Open the door for true racial justice. Support H.R. 40.References:
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, "The Case for Reparations," The Atlantic, June 2014.
- Richard Gonzales, "Congressional Hearing On Slavery Reparations Set For Wednesday," NPR, June 18, 2019.
- Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "At Historic Hearing, House Panel Explores Reparations," The New York Times, June 19, 2019.
- L. Toni Lewis M.D., "Pension history lesson," The Hill, March 3, 2014.
- Lexie Schapitl, "The racial wealth gap is where yesterday’s injustice becomes today’s inequality. And it’s growing." Vox, May 23, 2018.
- Marianne Levine, "McConnell: I’m with Obama on reparations," POLITICO, July 9, 2019.