The idea of reparations being paid to black communities and individuals in America has been on the table for some time, both at the national and local levels. However, as it is quite controversial and the logistics of even its proposal are quite complicated, few plans have gotten much traction beyond a place at the table.
However, that seems to not necessarily be the case for the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois.
Here, according to Newsweek, Americans may see the first experiment of the reparations movement.
So what does the city propose to give as reparations?
The first part of the $10 million plan is to give black residents who lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969 or claim that their parents or grandparents did, you might be eligible to receive $25,000.
But that isn’t just a check in that amount. The funds have to be used toward homeownership, whether that means purchasing a home, paying off your mortgage, or simply making home improvements.
According to Newsweek, this is because the city apparently participated in redlining policies and other housing discrimination practices during that time period. That ended in 1969 when the city passed and fair housing ordinance.
The funds will come from a 3 percent tax on marijuana, with the first grants being given from a poll of $400,000.
Evanston alderwoman Robin Rue Simmons told the outlet, “I thought that we, as a city, might localize a reparative policy to empower the black community and help rebuild wealth that had been stripped away due to predatory practices and other anti-black practices.”
And she hopes, with their success, that other cities around the nation will follow in Evanston’s footsteps and begin their own reparation plans, even if they need to look different based on the city’s history.
However, it’s not looking like the plan is getting off to a good start. While it has been approved by much of the city’s leaders, there is already significant opposition to it.
The loudest of these opposing voices comes from Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations, an activist group recently created with the sole purpose of doing just what its name implies: rejecting reparations.
To be clear, it’s not that the group doesn’t like the idea of reparations or thinks that Evanston’s black communities don’t deserve some payback for all the racial mistreatment they’ve experienced over the years. Instead, the group has a problem with this specific plan and any others that may be similar.
Well, for the organizer of the group, Sebastian Nalls, who ran as a mayoral candidate in the city in 2020, he believes the current plan is inadequate.
In an interview with Northwestern University’s newspaper, Nalls said, “Black voices are not being heard, and they believe that what is on the table are not real reparations.”
The group explains further by saying in a Facebook statement, “To qualify for the reparations program, an individual must be the descendants of residents that lived in Evanston between 1919-1969 and/or evidence that they faced racial disparities. Racial harm deserving of repair did not begin or end in those windows of time.”
Furthermore, the group notes that residents “would still need a large influx of cash for any down payment and have good credit to secure any mortgage from banks. The forces that had been historically benefiting from the racist policies of redlining and housing discrimination are now benefiting from a program aimed at undoing their harm.”
The group goes on to claim that “ALL” black residents have experienced racism in some form or another, and therefore, all “are owed repair.” And currently, the program proposed doesn’t serve all black residents. And neither does it begin to make reparations for the harm done to them.
The question is, what will? What will it take for this group and others with similar ideas to be happy with a proposed reparations plan?
Well, according to what Nall told NBC News, such a plan would not only be the repairing of the harm done but also an assurance “more harm will not be caused.”
Is it just me, or does that sound like a blank check? I mean, how much or what could honestly ensure no future harm will ever come to these individuals based on race and make up for whatever damages they may have faced already?
The city is going to need a lot more than 3 percent tax to get that done…
Then again, based on the growing opposition, it doesn’t look like a solid plan for reparations will be agreed upon any time soon.