Evanston Is an Equity Project, Not Reparations
A $25,000 housing grant is a good step but doesn’t right the wrong of slavery and economic injustice
Evanston, Illinois, approved to use a small portion of its cannabis taxes for an equity initiative to address housing inequities from redlining. The city calls it reparations. While this is a good step in the right direction and a great model to study, this isn’t reparations.
According to a Black Star News op-ed by A. Kirsten Mullen and William Darity:
This is a housing plan dressed up as a reparations plan….The term reparations [should] be reserved for a comprehensive policy of redress for black American descendants of persons enslaved in the United States. Specifically, black reparations must refer to a project that eliminates the nation’s staggering racial wealth gap. Indeed, true reparations must incorporate four essential elements.
Mullen and Darity are the authors of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, and they explain — in their book and in the op-ed — the four elements that are required for effective reparation:
- Identifying African Americans born in the United States and descendants of Africans who were brought here and were enslaved.
- “Require the plan to erase the black-white difference in wealth by building black assets to a level comparable to those held by whites.”
- “True reparations require direct payments to eligible recipients.”
- “The federal government is the culpable party and must pay the debt.”
Based on these guidelines, Evanston should stop calling its plan reparations. As a matter of fact, it’s more of an economic stimulus package and social experiment.
Once again, the Evanston experiment is a good step in the right direction, but I agree with the op-ed’s authors, who state that the move “hijacks true reparations.” True reparations address the systemic causes and issues that include housing disparities but don’t end there. Reparations are not a grant approved by a group dictating what the funds can or should be used for.