US President Joe Biden supports a study into whether descendants of enslaved people in the US should receive reparation, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday when the issue was discussed on Capitol Hill.
Psaki told reporters that Biden “continues to demonstrate its commitment to comprehensive action to combat the ongoing systemic racism”.
Reparations were used in other circumstances to help settle large moral and economic debts – and were paid to Japanese Americans interned during World War II, families of Holocaust survivors, and blacks in post-apartheid South Africa.
But the US has never made great strides in debating whether or how black people should be compensated for more than 200 years of slavery.
Jen Psaki, US White House press secretary, told reporters that Biden was determined to take “comprehensive measures to combat the ongoing systemic racism today.” [Leah Millis/Reuters]HR-40, a bill to fund the Study of “Slavery and Discrimination in the Colonies and the United States from 1619 to Present and Recommend Appropriate Remedial Actions,” has been in Congress for more than 30 years, but never for a full vote.
Democratic representative Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced the bill in January, which was debated Wednesday by a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.
Democratic colleague Steve Cohen, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Constitutional, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee, said in a hearing on Wednesday that it was appropriate to consider HR-40 at a time when the country is exposed to police violence against blacks and men one person anticipates a pandemic that has disproportionately affected people of skin color.
Last year, Biden told the Washington Post, “We must acknowledge that there cannot be a fulfillment of the American dream without addressing the original sin of slavery and the centuries-long campaign of violence, fear and trauma that have been inflicted on black people in the United States USA was exercised this country “.
Protesters hold a Black Lives Matter banner during a protest against racial inequality following the death of George Floyd by police [File: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters]But like almost all Democratic presidential candidates at the time, he did not advocate the idea of specific payments to the descendants of slavery, but rather promised “greater measures to combat systemic racism” and further investigation into the matter.
In 1975, Biden, who was then a US Senator, was even more strongly against it.
“I’m not buying the concept popular in the 1960s that says, ‘We have oppressed blacks for 300 years, and white people are now way ahead in the race for everything our society has to offer. To even out the score we have to give the black a head start now or even hold the whites back to even out the race, ”he said at the time.
Biden’s Vice President, Kamala Harris, said in August 2019 that the problem was complex and needed careful consideration, arguing that monetary compensation would not solve the broader problems arising from systemic racism.
Biden’s Vice President Kamala Harris, who ran for president, said during the August 2019 election campaign that the problem was complex and deserves careful consideration [Carlos Barria/Reuters]”This stuff needs to be studied,” she said during a meeting of the Des Moines Register editorial board. “When we talk about writing a check, I don’t think it’s that simple,” she said.
“And in all honesty, I don’t endorse any idea or concept that after all of this we’re going to say, ‘Okay, I’ll write you a check and then be quiet. ‘Because that won’t solve the problem. These are the systemic problems that are and will continue to exist whether you write a check or not. “
Some politicians, scientists and economists have called for reparations to be paid to an estimated 40 million blacks. It is estimated that any federal reparations program could cost trillions of dollars.
Proponents say such payments recognize the value of the forced, unpaid labor that sustained the economies of the southern US states until the end of the Civil War in 1865, as well as the burden of decades of legal and factual segregation.