Yet another Democrat candidate for president in 2020 — this time Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) — has brought up the topic of possible reparations for slavery for black Americans.
And on Monday, he took the discussion one step further: He announced he is introducing a bill that would examine the potential for reparations for the descendants of slaves in America.
These last few weeks, the topic has caught on among other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
Said Booker on Monday in a statement, “Since slavery in this country, we have had overt policies fueled by white supremacy and racism that have oppressed African-Americans economically for generations. Many of our bedrock domestic policies that have ushered millions of Americans into the middle class have systematically excluded blacks through practices like GI Bill discrimination and redlining. This bill is a way of addressing head-on the persistence of racism, white supremacy, and implicit racial bias in our country.”
He added, “It will bring together the best minds to study the issue and propose solutions that will finally begin to right the economic scales of past harms and make sure we are a country where all dignity and humanity is affirmed.”
The Booker bill is the Senate counterpart of a House bill — H.R. 40 — which Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas introduced in January.
If passed into the law, the bill would create a commission to study the impact of slavery and continued discrimination against black Americans; it would then recommend reparation proposals.
I am proud to introduce legislation that will finally address many of our country's policies—rooted in a history of slavery and white supremacy—that continue to erode Black communities, perpetuate racism and implicit bias, and widen the racial wealth gap.https://t.co/5x7bdfncbZ
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 8, 2019
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— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) April 9, 2019
At least eight other Democratic presidential contenders have also thrown in on the topic of reparations.
Those individuals include Sen. Kamala Harris (California); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts); Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vermont); former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, former housing secretary under then-President Barack Obama; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas); and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii).
“Since the initial introduction of this legislation in 1989, the importance of examining the institution of slavery in the United States has been recognized across a broad range of our society,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said in a statement. “I am pleased that Sen. Booker has introduced a Senate Companion to H.R. 40. I salute his dedication to elevating the discussion of reparations and reparatory justice.”
Harris of California recently told “The Breakfast Club” that government reparations for the descendants of African-American slaves would be a key component of addressing racial discrimination.
Harris also told The New York Times about the matter, “We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities.”
For her part, Warren of Massachusetts not only supports reparations for African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves, she even broadened the reparations scope to include the descendants of Native-Americans whom European settlers displaced.
And Castro recently told The Root that the country “would be better off” if the federal government made reparations to African-Americans.
“It’s self-defeating because you have to continue to see yourself as a victim waiting around in life to be resurrected by the beneficence of the larger society, by white guilt.”
Critics of the move on reparations say the measure could cost trillions of dollars. Conservative author and columnist Shelby Steele also recently told Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” that it is “unimaginable” that anyone “would have the hubris to think you could resolve slavery” by making reparations.
Advocating for reparations means “holding onto an idea of justice that’s absolutely impossible,” he warned.
“Not only is it impossible, but it’s self-defeating because you have to continue to see yourself as a victim waiting around in life to be resurrected by the beneficence of the larger society, by white guilt,” Steele, who is black, also said.