An affluent Chicago suburb will vote Monday on whether to provide $10 million over the next 10 years to qualifying black residents as a kind of “reparations.” The goal is to help address housing inequities in the city between 1919 and 1969 and, if successful, would become the first reparations in U.S. history.
Residents of Evanston, Illinois are voting on whether to provide $25,000 to each qualifying black resident. The money would be used toward housing — in the form of a mortgage, or an allowance for home renovations.
The money is being raised through a 3% tax on marijuana sales in the community. The first installment, according to Yahoo, will total $400,000 and will be allotted to 16 black families.
“Drop in the Bucket”
The city says blacks were unfairly discriminated against in Evanston, Illinois between 1919 and 1969. Housing practices enforced by the local government and banks at that time prevented black residents from owning housing in the better neighborhoods.
The hope by many activists in the community is that Evanston will serve as an example for the rest of the country.
Indeed, 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,” she told Newsweek.
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.
“It’s Unconstitutional” Say Critics
Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations, a Facebook group formed this month, says the reparations do not go far enough. In a post, the group writes, “We reject racist reparations and demand a better, more responsive, more complete program that provides access to reparations acts of actual repair to Black folks.”
Meanwhile, critics including Edward Blum who is the President of the Project on Fair Representation, have called the plan unconstitutional. According to Yahoo New, Blum said, “past discrimination cannot be remedied by new discrimination.”