An affluent Chicago suburb is on track to become the first city in the country to give black residents reparations. But, according to some community leaders, the $25,000 is “not enough.”
Evanston, Illinois established a reparations program in 2019 with a $10 million fund raised from a 3 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales and will soon give out $25,000 to qualifying black residents.
The program aims to address “housing inequity” by providing blacks with grants to assist with home ownership, mortgage assistance, or other home improvements in an effort to help address policies from the past.
To qualify for Evanston’s reparations program, black residents of the city must have lived in, or had relatives that live in Evanston, between 1919 and 1969. It was during that time that black families in Evanston were affected by discrimination in housing policies, including redlining, that prevented them from buying homes in the best neighborhoods.
It’s Just A “Drop in the Bucket”
Rep. Michael Nabors, the president of the Evanston NAACP, told Newsweek, he thinks $25,000 is a “drop in the bucket.”
“When it’s all said and done, however much money is raised for reparations….will only be a drop in the bucket for the oppression that Black people experienced in this nation,” he said.
5th Ward Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, who was instrumental in the initial creation of the Evanston program, agrees.
“We are fully aware that this initiative is not full repair to black residents. That’s going to take an initiative at every level of government throughout big business, in all institutions. And, it’s going to take a passage of H.R. 40, as well.”
H.R. 40 is legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Congress by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to study the issue of reparations.
Federal Government Needed For Reparation Plan
Simmons is hopeful her city’s legislation will help inspire the federal government to act on reparations because, in her view, that’s one of the best ways to address inequality. “We can operate in…our municipality in ways to bring us some relief but not nearly what the federal government can do.”
In addition, Simmons maintained that, Simmons added, “we are fully aware there is a lifetime of work ahead of us to justice and repair the black community.”
President Biden has said he is committed to moving forward on reparations and may even act ahead of any Congressional studies to address the issue of inequality.