For those of you jonesin’ for reparations between 2009 and 2017, here’s why your ache was never eased.
But first, a backstory:
Two friends from different backgrounds — one from a working-class New Jersey neighborhood and the other from Hawaiian and Windy City surroundings — recently joined fiery forces to launch a podcast.
I’m speaking, of course, of pals Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama.
And in the Monday-released 2nd episode of Renegades: Born in the USA, The Boss and the Former Boss talked the “R” word.
As told to his co-host, as president, Barack was keen to chase equitable acts to help slay the sleights of slavery.
Unfortunately, there was a substantial wrench stuck in the machine.
Barrier to justice: the “politics of white resistance.”
Barack explained that he considered pursuing reparations but realized it was a fight he couldn’t win.
But are they in order?
Fox News reports:
Obama said he believes reparations are “justified” and that “there’s not much question that the wealth…the power of this country was built in significant part — not exclusively, maybe not even the majority of it, but a large portion of it — was built on the backs of slaves.”
As for why a proposal never made its way to Congress, it’s simple.
Two more “R” words from #44:
“[W]hat I saw during my presidency was the politics of white resistance and resentment.”
“The talk of ‘welfare queens’ and the talk of the ‘undeserving’ poor. And the backlash against affirmative action.”
Hence, to Obama, there was no use tryin’:
“All that made the prospect of actually proposing any kind of coherent, meaningful reparations program struck me as, politically, not only a nonstarter but potentially counterproductive.”
But don’t misunderstand — he gets it:
“[It was] perfectly understandable why working-class White folks, middle-class White folks, folks who are having trouble paying the bills or dealing with student loans, wouldn’t be too thrilled [about] a massive program that is designed to deal with the past but isn’t speaking to their future.”
It seems Barack’s singing a different tune than during his 2008 campaign.
Back then, he laid it out:
“I have said in the past, and I’ll repeat again, that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed.”
So will we ever see actual reparations?
Our present failure isn’t for lack of trying. Legislation’s been introduced across three decades, the latest by Democratic Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
Meanwhile, progress is being made on a smaller scale.
As I covered last July, a North Carolina town voted to award black residents “community reparations.”
And in January, a Pennsylvania college announced it would set up a “reparations fund” to purportedly buy books — and even therapy — for black and American Indian students.
Perhaps best of all, Oregon’s Wayfinding Academy is offering free tuition for those same groups — read all about that here.
Back to lawmakers lately, Sheila Jackson’s H.R. 40, intends to “examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.”
The bill would set up a Committee to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans.
Barack should like that one.
And if I had to guess, I’d say his co-host will, too.
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