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15 Jul, 2020 22:23

Precedent set: North Carolina city approves reparations for black Americans, Rhode Island mayor looking into doing the same

Precedent set: North Carolina city approves reparations for black Americans, Rhode Island mayor looking into doing the same

The city council in Asheville, North Carolina approved paying reparations to black residents, while a mayor in Rhode Island signed an order promising to look into the act, leading many to argue this is the start of a major trend.

"Hundreds of years of Black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today," Keith Young, one of black members of the Asheville City Council, said. "It is simply not enough to remove statutes. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature."

The vote was 7-0 in favor of the measure.

The reparations will not be direct payments to individuals, as many proponents of the idea have suggested, but instead investments to increase black home ownership, career opportunities, and access to health care and education. 

A Community Reparations Committee will be created to suggest concrete plans to the city about implementation of the plan, as well as where the funding and resources for everything will be coming from. 

Meanwhile, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza signed his executive order on Wednesday, promising to create a plan for reparations, with details like whether money will go to investments like North Carolina or be in the form of direct payments. Elorza says it will be a few months before any final decisions are, including how much everything will cost and where exactly the money will come from. 

While reparations were once a rather fringe issue with little mainstream support, the idea has become increasingly popular with politicians looking to win the support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Multiple Democrats have endorsed reparations and even Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, has said he is open to the concept. The decision was hailed by politicians and pundits as a move necessary in the light of protests throughout the country.

While the idea has grown more and more popular on the left, conservatives have continued to push back against it, citing practicality issues, as well as the fact that slavery ended in the US in 1863, meaning black and white people alive now are separated by generations from it.

What the left and the right can agree on is that the measure and executive order are “historic” moves and will no doubt have major implications going forward as other states and politicians weigh the pros and cons of the act.

Even the ACLU weighed in after North Carolina’s reparations decision and warned Congress to “take note.”

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