Jamaal Bowman, reparations, Black Americans

NY Representative Jamaal Bowman Backs Bill For $333K Reparations To All Black Americans

The legislation aims to distribute $14 trillion dollars amongst the approximately 42 million Black Americans.

New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman is backing a federal bill that would provide every Black American with a one-time payment of $333,000 as restitution for slavery.

Bowman is one of nine co-sponsors of House Resolution 414, which declares the U.S. government has a “moral and legal obligation” to make amends to the descendants of enslaved people, Daily Mail reported. The legislation aims to distribute $14 trillion amongst the approximately 42 million Black Americans.

This number comes from estimates of how much academics think the U.S. monetarily benefited from the free forced labor provided by slaves between 1619 and 1865, the news outlet explained. Bowman suggested the reparations could be paid out over time in creative ways, such as through monthly checks distributed over several years.

Bowman argued that the government’s pandemic response proves it can afford such a program. According to Daily Mail, he told the Journal News, “When COVID was destroying us, we invested in the American people in a way that kept the economy afloat. The government can invest the same way in reparations without raising taxes on anyone.”

The congressman also proposed the funds could be “spent into existence” the same way the government did when it spent $7 trillion in 2020. This number accounted for a little over a quarter of the economy. Bowman said that the money doesn’t have “to be paid out in one shot.”

He emphasized that “there were 246 years of free labor that produced trillions or hundreds of trillions of dollars for the U.S. economy.” He added, “The economy wouldn’t exist in the way it does today if slavery hadn’t built it,” said Bowman, Daily Mail noted.

While the bill currently lacks support to advance in the Senate, it comes on the heels of some localized successes on reparations. In 2021, Evanston, Illinois, became the first U.S. city to pay reparations, allotting $25,000 in housing grants to eligible Black residents. The city used tax revenue from cannabis sales and the sales of homes costing over $1 million, Daily Mail reported.

Other cities, like San Francisco, have also explored reparations programs. According to the outlet, in December 2023, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill to create a commission studying potential reparations policies.

National reparations might be one way the nation can help close racial disparities in housing, education, incarceration, and more.

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