Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson Calls for Reparations for the City's Black Residents

AP Photo/Erin Hooley

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, having solved all other problems afflicting the Windy City, has turned his attention to the most pressing issue his office has ever faced. Namely, reparations. On June 17, 2024, Johnson authorized spending $500K to study the matter.

Ahead of Juneteenth, Mayor Brandon Johnson signed Executive Order 2024-1, establishing a Reparations Task Force to develop a Black Reparations Agenda. This Task Force is an example of the Administration’s dedication to co-governance, and in partnership with members of the Aldermanic Black Caucus, the Mayor’s offices of Equity and Racial Justice and Business, Economic and Neighborhood Development, and other key City departments, will conduct a comprehensive study and examination of all policies that have harmed Black Chicagoans from the slavery era to present day and make a series of recommendations that will serve as appropriate remedies.

The question regarding in what fashion the slavery era affected black Chicagoans presents itself, given that Illinois was always a free state. Also, given the amount of time that has passed since slavery ended in the United States, which will be 159 years come this December, finding any direct correlation between slavery and much of anything might prove problematic.

“Today's Executive Order is not just a public declaration; it is a pledge to shape the future of our city by confronting the legacy of inequity that has plagued Chicago for far too long,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “In partnership with the Chicago City Council Black Caucus and our dedicated allies, we are continuing to build on the bedrock of my administration to move forward in reconciliation through targeted investments aimed at rectifying decades of deliberate disinvestment in Black neighborhoods and communities.

“These decisive actions move us beyond words and are a testament to my administration taking on the responsibility of this work. Thank you to all for your unwavering dedication that has brought us to this pivotal moment toward a more just and equitable Chicago for all.”

Speaking of inequity, as of June 14, there had been 221 murders in Chicago in 2024. This is 45 fewer than this time in 2023, a statistic that doubtless brings tremendous comfort to grieving families. Digging a bit deeper into the statistics, more precisely the 221 human beings no longer living, 74.7 percent were under 40. Of those under 40, 76 made it to their 20th birthday but did not live to see their 30th birthday, and 36 did not live to see their 20th birthday. 87.3 percent of the murder victims were male. 78.7 percent were black. 87.8 percent of the murders came via gunfire. One would think this ought to be something needing addressing, but given that Chicago already has strict gun laws that have done nothing to stem the bloodshed, Mayor Johnson needs a new strawman to blame for societal breakdown.

Within the Executive Order, Mayor Johnson acknowledges the legacy of chattel slavery and Jim Crow laws as incompatible with the values and principles recognized in the City of Chicago’s Equity Statement of Principles – a city where there is fair and just access to opportunity and resources that provide everyone with the ability to thrive – and issues an apology on behalf of the City of Chicago for the historical wrongs committed against Black Chicagoans and their ancestors who have and continue to bear injustices.

For the record, Illinois’ legislative past has far more anti-discrimination laws than discriminatory ones. For example, the state outlawed segregation in education in 1874. This makes Johnson’s claims quite suspect.


The task force created by Johnson’s executive order will:

(M)ake a series of recommendations that will serve as appropriate remedies and restitution for past injustices and present harm consistent with international standards.

What international standards the task force plans to invoke remains unclear.

Laying sarcasm aside, the words do not exist that are strong enough to condemn racism properly. It is an abhorrent abomination. It is unbiblical. It is an utterly unjustifiable obscenity deserving nothing but maximum scorn and opposition. However, task forces and the dangling carrot of reparations do not address the matter. They are cheap virtue signaling and pandering for votes. The situation will only improve once addressed with something other than patronizing blame-shifting.


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