"What can we do to help?"
It's the question so many people — particularly white folks — have been asking in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor's murders. As the United States has struggled to face, anew, its history of racism, violence, and white supremacy, many of us have been left with an urgent drive to be helpful in the fight against oppression. We've heard a lot of options so far: donate, support protesters, buy and read anti-racist books, shop at Black-owned businesses, talk with our fellow community members.
These are all individual-level actions that each one of us can be empowered, on our own, to take. But there's another huge step we need to take, and we need our elected officials to help us get there. That vital step is reparations.Sign the petition to tell the U.S. Congress to fund reparations for African Americans, and commission research into what form reparations would best take.
Look at so many of the most symbolic buildings
in this country. The White House. The U.S. Capitol building. The Statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol. Wall Street. Each one of these monumentous constructions — and so many more — were built by enslaved people. But their impact goes far beyond architecture and edifices.Enslaved people in this country built what we have today.
Without consent, without compensation, and under the constant pressures of violence and bondage, these individuals constructed our hallowed halls, our economy, and even our global industrial might. Today — in a large part due to this history — the United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the entire world. Yet what did the descendants of enslaved people receive in exchange?
Devastating poverty and inequality. Overcrowded and underfunded schools, still segregated by neighborhood, class, and race. Continued violence from other Americans and police. Record, soaring levels of incarceration — another form of forced, unpaid (or underpaid) labor. And, of course, heightened suspicion and surveillance. According to NPR
, "African Americans are worse off than whites by almost every economic measure." The rate of homeownership among Black Americans is 40% lower compared with white Americans, while their median income is similarly almost half that of their white counterparts. Lots of Americans like to say, "look, slavery and Jim Crow and legal segregation were a long time ago — surely they have no impact on the here and now." Clearly, that is just not the case.
This country took nearly everything away from enslaved people — their freedom, their wealth, their labor, their families, their lives. It's time to start to rectify this with reparations. It's not a pipe-dream. The case for reparations has been gaining steam in recent years all over the country, and some communities are now taking steps to turn this possibility into a reality.
In Asheville, North Carolina, lawmakers unanimously passed legislation that will provide reparations in the form of funding for Black homeownership and businesses.
It's taken us long enough. Sign the petition to demand that the U.S. finally pay reparations to the descendants of enslaved Africans who built this country, and commission research into how best to implement this policy!