Washington, D.C., is the latest jurisdiction to consider paying reparations to the descendants of enslaved people under two measures proposed this week by a council member, reports say.
Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) on Tuesday (October 6) introduced a bill to establish a task force to study reparations amid calls for racial justice and equity in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, according to The Washington Post.
The measure instructs the nine-member task force to study “the economic impact of slavery as well as racist policies that continued after it was abolished to recommend a plan for economic atonement to help African Americans in the District,” The Post writes.
“This is unprecedented, albeit timely — though most would say it’s well past time,” McDuffie said, The Post notes. “We’re asking the task force to look at the history of racism in D.C. and what structural racism has resulted in for African Americans in the city.”
A second measure seeks to declare racism a public health crisis in the District of Columbia, and acknowledge that racism has resulted in the race being identified as a social determinant of health, with persistent racial disparities in education, housing, healthcare, employment, worker protections, climate, food access, technology, and our criminal justice system, states a news release from McDuffie’s office.
The District of Columbia has one of the largest disparities in wealth between Black and white residents of any city in the United States, the councilman notes.
If approved, D.C. would join Asheville, N.C., Evanston, Ill., Providence, R.I. and other U.S. cities that in recent months are making efforts to pave the way for reparations. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) recently signed a similar law establishing a task force to study the state’s role in slavery and make recommendations for reparations.
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