While Black Californians could be getting some deserved reparations, Rep. Cori Bush is calling for the federal government’s atonement for all Black Americans.
NPR reported that the first Black congresswoman in Missouri’s history brought a new $14 trillion proposal to the table. With reparations for Black Americans in mind, the legislation wants the United States government to address and compensate for the dehumanizing practice of chattel slavery and the ongoing decades of disparities in healthcare, housing, and policing.
“Every step of the way, Black Americans have been intentionally pushed back economically. A debt is owed. It’s time to pay that debt. It’s time for reparations,” Bush wrote in a Twitter post.
Every step of the way, Black Americans have been intentionally pushed back economically. A debt is owed.
It’s time to pay that debt. It’s time for reparations.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) May 17, 2023
The colonial system of slavery was one of the most profitable institutions in history during the 17th and 19th centuries. By 1860, about 4 million American slaves, who were exploited as unpaid labor, became the “largest single financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth more than all manufacturing and railroads combined,” Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in his Slavery Made America.
In addition to monetary compensation, Bush said in a Wednesday news conference that the United States has a “moral and legal obligation” for the devastating Black experience more than 150 years after slavery was abolished, per NPR. From infant mortality rates to the widening racial wealth gap, inequality for Black Americans plays out over the course of a lifetime.
“We know that we continue to live under slavery’s vestiges. We know how slavery has perpetuated Jim Crow. We know how slavery’s impacts live on today,” Bush said, per NPR.
Bush’s introduction of the trillion dollars is an effort among other state-wide level movements toward reparations. The nine-member California Reparations Task Force voted May 6 to recommend that state lawmakers provide billions of dollars in compensation payments to qualified Black residents and to issue a formal apology for slavery, The Los Angeles Times reports.
But the decision still hangs in the balance without Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s support.
“Many of the recommendations put forward by the Task Force are critical action items we’ve already been hard at work addressing — all while investing billions to root out disparities and improve equity in housing, education, healthcare, and well beyond,” Newsom said, per Mercury News.