‘Pay Us!’: Rep. Cori Bush Makes A $97 Trillion Case For Reparations

‘Pay Us!’: Rep. Cori Bush Makes A $97 Trillion Case For Reparations

Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri took time to commemorate Juneteenth by strengthening the case for reparations for descendants of enslaved Black people. A $97 trillion case, to be exact.

Bush introduced legislation in May, “The Reparations Now Resolution,” a 23-page document calling on the United States to address the “enslavement of Africans and its lasting harm” on millions of Black Americans, according to CBS News.

Using the holiday as a platform to draw attention to the sobering experience of being Black in this country and the stain left behind by slavery, Bush’s efforts—as well as those of lawmakers in  Evanston, Boston, and San Francisco—are crucial first steps in closing the wealth gap that exists between white and Black families in America.

According to the Harvard Gazette, the average Black family’s wealth in the United States is only one-tenth of the average White family’s. It’s a difference that can be directly attributed to slavery.

Though the initial ask from Bush’s resolution was a $14 trillion payout to descendants of those who endured chattel slavery, the St. Louis native cited findings from scholars who estimate that the U.S. benefitted from over 222 million hours of free labor between 1619 and 1865; totaling over $97 trillion in value today.

For Bush, the only equitable way forward for the country must include reparations, according to MSNBC. “America must provide reparations if we desire a prosperous future for all,” she said. “This country thrived and grew through the planting and harvesting of tobacco, sugar, rice and cotton, all from chattel slavery, and that hasn’t been compensated.”

It is not clear what the ultimate plan for “The Reparations Now Resolution” will mean for Black Americans, as it does not explicitly ask for direct payments to be made out to individuals. However, there is clear language about the need to address growing wealth disparities.