Are reparations finally arriving? According to the New York Post, a town in Illinois is implementing a program to fund reparations for black people.
In the midst of recreational marijuana becoming legal in Illinois, on Jan. 1, lawmakers in the city of Evanston plan to use the revenues collected from sales to help fund a reparations program. The money will go toward job training and other benefits for Evanston’s black population, the Pioneer Press reported. “We can implement funding to directly invest in black Evanston,” said Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, who proposed the reparations bill.”
Aldermen approved the use of money from its cannabis retailers tax with an 8-1 vote. All revenue collected next year from the city’s 3% sales tax on cannabis will be placed in the new fund. City staff estimated that the town will collect at least $500,000 a year from the new tax, which can start to be applied to the fund in July 2020, according to interim City Manager Erika Storlie as reported on Patch.
Simmons said it was time to move past apologies and move toward direct efforts to close gaps in wealth and opportunity for black residents. “Evanston has been preparing to lead the nation in this way for years. We have celebrated diversity, although it’s drive-by diversity. We honor our diversity and efforts for inclusion, ceremonially in resolution, in our traditions, there’s evidence of it throughout town in public art. We have created a chief equity officer position, we have appointed an Equity and Empowerment Commission, we have an equity lens that we use in our staffing, and we’re not alone. Many of the institutions and nonprofits in town express the same commitment,” she added.
“The Commission understands that implementation of these recommendations will just begin to address an as-yet unquantifiable loss of assets, wealth, and opportunity for Evanston’s African American community over decades,” according to a memo from the commission. “The process of repair and reparation must be part of a larger, community-wide racial reconciliation process, that the Commission intends to begin and for which the Commission seeks the Council’s support and participation.”
Among the recommendations presented from the Equity and Empowerment Commission were property tax relief, down payment assistance, housing repairs and rehabilitation, low-interest loans for black entrepreneurs in Evanston, and more.