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$14 trillion and no mules


Paying the price. One of the typical questions asked during conversations about reparations is how to pay for them. Fabiola talks with economist William “Sandy” Darity and folklorist Kirsten Mullen about how reparations could be executed. The husband-and-wife team lays out a comprehensive framework in their book, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, for who would qualify and how the federal government would afford the $14 trillion price tag. This is part of 40 Acres, a four-part series examining reparations in the United States.

This series was made possible by a grant from the Canopy Collective and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. To provide feedback, please take our survey here: https://forms.gle/w9vYsfFGvdJLJ3LY9

Host: Fabiola Cineas, race and policy reporter, Vox

Guests: William “Sandy” Darity and Kirsten Mullen, authors of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century


This episode was made by: 

  • Producer: Jonquilyn Hill 
  • Engineer: Patrick Boyd

Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: A.M. Hall

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
- Support for this podcast comes from Planned Parenthood. It's hard to imagine a world where we leave future generations with fewer rights and freedoms. Since the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, politicians in nearly every state have introduced bills aimed at blocking people from getting the essential sexual and reproductive care they need, including abortion. Planned Parenthood believes everyone deserves access to care and with supporters like you, they can reclaim our rights and protect and expand access to abortion care. Visit plannedparanhood.org/future to learn more and support their cause. Book flights and hotels. All you're missing is a tool to help you plan that unbelievable travel experience. That's why you need Viator.
Excursions and more in one place. There are over 300,000 travel experiences to choose from, so you can find something for everyone. And Viator offers free cancellation and 24/7 customer support for worry-free travel. Download the app and download the app for free. The Viator app now and use code Viator10 for 10% off your first booking in the app. Find travel Experiences for you. Do more with Viator. Hello and welcome to another episode of The Weeds. I'm John Quilin Hill and today I'm joined in the studio by my friend and my colleague, Fabiola Sinius. She covers race and policy here at Vox. Hi Fabiola. - Hi JQ, can I call you JQ on this? - Of course. - Okay, good. Today's episode is actually a conversation Fabiola had as part of a series exploring reparations in America.
Ran last year on Box Conversations, now called the Gray Area, and it was made possible with support from the Canobie Collective and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The episode we're sharing today takes a step back and says, Okay, what if reparations for Black people do happen? What would that implementation look like? What would it cost? Where would that money come from? And who would qualify? It's a fascinating Deep dive, and a great way to kick off Black History Month. In this episode, we spoke to two leading experts on reparations. They are actually a husband and wife duo, Sandy Darity, who's a professor at Duke. University and then his wife Kirsten Mullen who is a folklorist and we brought them both on
and simply because again, they're the leading voices on reparations. And they've also put out a pretty comprehensive framework on what a reparations plan or project would look like if the United States were to undertake it. And so I just. I think they had just such strong ideas and have probably thought the most about what reparations would actually look like if the United States were to say, You know what? Let's start to roll out this project tomorrow. Treated as a non-starter, like something that just will never happen. And so it was nice to sort of sit down and say like, okay, but what if it did? Realistically, what would that look like? Exactly.
Again, like you said, if you say the word reparations, I feel like in some circles, right, it's something to make people laugh. It's something that people believe will never happen. It's something that other people I've interviewed say, it's time to stop talking about it. But again, I think Sandy and Kirsten are the two people who said, we're gonna actually take the time to look at the decades and decades. Decades of research, whether that was from like economists or other historians to kind of get a sense of just what the literature is out there already, but then adding more modern day stuff. So the fact that they were even able to like take all that research and history and say, let's go. Actually put a number on what reparations would cost. And that's why we named the episode 14 Trillion and No Mules because they got to something that was so specific. It's powerful. A lot of people don't agree with their work. There are a lot of people who do agree with their work. And so I think we just felt it was important to bring it. These voices out and make sure that they were a part of an entire series on operations.
Things that I really appreciated about the conversation and working with you on it. It's kind of being able to bring to light and to the forefront in a place where there's a lot of space for nuance and taking the time with it that. That controversy, that idea of, you know, there really is tension over who in the diaspora would qualify for reparations if they happen. And I think one of the things I loved about working with you on it is we are both part of this diaspora, but we're in different places in it. My family is from the south. I'm descended from people who were enslaved. Your family is Haitian, which in and of itself has a very important, Haiti has a very, very important place as far as the diaspora and just the fight for liberation goes. I think in the episode I kind of get a little personal with Sandy and Kirsten just basically saying like under their framework I would not get reparations, you know as a descendant of two hated
parents who moved to the United States in the late 1970s, I would not be able Eligible for reparations because under their framework, you have to show that you have at least one ancestor who descended from someone who was enslaved in the United States. So I think that's like-- one of the main areas where a lot of people disagree with them 'cause they're like, you know what? We gotta pay attention to contributions. We gotta look at how the slave trade was just-- Intertwined with other countries, including and especially Haiti. And so those are other perspectives. That are represented in other parts of the podcast. But yeah, the eligibility part is huge when it comes to what Sandi and-- Kirsten are articulating, but then also it just starts to make us think about these bigger questions of just like, what is blackness in America? like who is black enough, like who is black. And so not that this makes me feel like I'm not black, 'cause to be honest, right, if the specific claim is people who are descended from those.
Were enslaved, if they, right, deserve to reap whatever riches and wealth were a result of the labor that was done as a result of slavery, then to me, that's what I'm saying. That argument is as logical as it gets. - I think that's one of the interesting parts about it, the fact that we sit in these very different parts. I mean, very different, I think, is a stretch, Reveals my kind of thoughts on it all, but sitting in these different places in the diaspora and even coming to different conclusions, because I know you think, well. You know, it does make sense, and I do see that argument, although I think I often come to-- Things from a more Pan-African lens because I think, okay, if redlining is happening, are they looking at where you're from? Or like, you know, if the police stop you, they're not necessarily wondering like, oh, are you the descendants of...
The enslaved, but depending on what the reparations are for, it does to a degree make sense for this specific group of people of which I am a part of. To get reparations. And can I just say, it was very nice. I mean, this was something we sort of talked about in the production, but being able to produce this series, And just being able to look at the scholarship and seriously look at this, it was very refreshing. I think too often, black scholarship and scholarship about black people is not taken seriously. And it was just nice to be able to do that, to have the platform.
And the tools to have that conversation. - Yeah, I feel like in a lot of ways, reparations still is in this place, but we're talking about reparations more. And again, that's why it was just so fun to be able to put this series together. And I'm glad that we're bringing it back for Black History Month, why not? - Enjoy listening. - This nation is about a debt that the federal government owes to all Black Americans in terms of U.S. slavery. - As a consequence of the failure to provide the 40-acre land grants. - It involves the historic acknowledgement of historic wrong and a recognition that the injury continues. - Literally, there is no reparations in the form of the payout of money that can undo what has been done. - I think apologies don't mean anything whatsoever. Apology is the easiest thing in the world. This is returning what was taken from a people.
Today, we'll explore the cost of reparations. If the federal government were to devise a plan for payments, what could it look like? Duke University economist William Sandy Darity and folklorist Kirsten Mullen. About the reparations framework they outline in their book, From Here to Equality. For Black Americans in the 21st century. As they write in the book, racism and discrimination have perpetually crippled Black economic opportunities.
He theorized that reparations, a program of acknowledgement, redress, and closure, could reverse inequalities between Black people and white people by closing the racial wealth gap. Their framework is comprehensive, and it understands the importance of reparations. Earth's longstanding tensions. Thinkers on reparations. Husband and wife duo. I caught up with them while they were at home in North Carolina. At times, you might even hear some household sounds or the occasional leaf blower in the background. It's a reminder that for them, this is more than policy. It's personal. And so that's where I started, with their own family histories, their connection to slavery in the United States, and how that influences their work.
On both sides of my family, my ancestors were enslaved in the United States. On my mother's side, my great-great grandparents were held in bondage on a plantation called Rose Hill in North Carolina. Carolina. Rose Hill Plantation was a relatively large plantation, only by the body family, the white bodies. My ancestors had the last name Body also. And so we refer to them as the black bodies. And my great random. Mother, who I knew during my lifetime, was the daughter of these two individuals who had been enslaved on the Rosehill plantation. In my case, a
My mother's side, the family line goes back to Caroline County, Virginia, where my ancestors were enslaved by the Wise family. Then on my father's side, our ancestors were enslaved in Colbert County, Alabama. And I can remember when. Zain and I took our older son to meet his paternal grandparents, who I didn't know to be particularly sentimental or even nostalgic necessarily. But my grandfather held the baby up in the air and pronounced him the fifth generation. I didn't immediately know what he was talking about, but it was on his mind that he was the fifth generation born free. I think on both sides of our family, Sandys and mine, in terms--
Of how we came to know what we know. Both of our children were given the assignment to interview. Their oldest living relatives and learn as much as they could about their family's genealogy and how they came to be where they were. And they were very... Very garrulous and very animated, you know, talking to him about what they knew and going back each generation. And then suddenly, they just got silent. And that's all we know. We can't share anything. We don't know anything else. And I thought, well, this is odd, you know, to come to this little brick wall that they seem to be hitting. But I had heard some stories about relatives farther back, and I wanted them to share that with our son. So that he could do well on his paper for school. But they were very reluctant on both sides to share what they knew because they were running headlong into family members who were Were the sons and daughters of the white people who had owned us.
Both of you, these stories were kind of there in your family to an extent. Like was there ever a point where you both had to go into the archive? Or do some serious digging through records to find out these stories as well? Oh yes, oh yes, absolutely. Okay. Because you get these little kernels. Mm-hmm. And my feel is folklore and anthropology, and I always say that Black folklore is true. There may be some details around the edges that need to be researched, but so often the big picture, the stories that have been passed down across generations are almost Most always true. ♪♪♪ It feels like reparations advocates are constantly having
to make the case for reparations and needing to prove that Black America is old, but then you flipped it and you're like, why should Black people have to continue to wait for the debt owed to them to be paid? Talk a little bit about why we should be reframing the question. I think we've thought for at least 30 years, I'll say, that there is— is an obligation that the United States government has to its Black American citizens who were descendants of persons who were enslaved here. Obligation that stems from the government's failure to provide the newly emancipated freedmen 40-acre land grants that they were promised in the aftermath of the years of bondage. We like to say that Black people were the first abolitionists, and that their ultimate goal was to obtain their freedom.
And also to be remunerated for the work that they had labored so hard to produce. This is not a new quest, it's old. As the arrival of the first African to this country. Sandy mentioned the failure of the federal government to provide those. 40-acre land grants to the newly emancipated freedmen at the end of the Civil War, but we also know that at the same time, actually beginning as early as 1862, the Homestead Acts, that the federal government did provide land grants to white Americans, including recent immigrants to the United States, and that promise was not for 40 acres, for 160-acre land grants. And this is a policy that was carried out, in fact, by the federal government. We have learned recently that the last such patent was completed in 1980.
Alaska. So this was over 100 year long commitment that the federal government made. You have these families that have the capacity as a consequence of this free equity from the federal government to pass on not only the profits from that land, but the land itself to their children. That 1.5 million white households received those land grants in the western territories, which translates to about 45 million living white Americans today who are still reaping the benefits of this single federal policy. And when you talk about... Compensating black Americans. Are we talking about compensating them just for slavery or are we also talking about Jim Crow and specific acts of racial terror that could have happened in the 1900s, for example. We're actually thinking about the full panoply of atrocities.
And how they have wound down to the present moment to create this kind of disparity and wealth between blacks and whites. Yes, it's the effects of slavery. It's the effects of the Jim Crow period of -- legal segregation. It's the effects of 100 massacres that were conducted during that period of time by white terrorists that resulted in a In the loss of Black lives and the seizure and theft of Black property. It's a consequence of the 20th-- emphasis on home ownership that was applied discriminatorily under both the
Legislation and the GI Bill resulting in a significant advantage in home ownership for white Americans in comparison with black Americans. I mean, you're probably aware of a number of groups that are attempting to focus on some specific harm, some specific atrocity that took place, and we think that these absolutely should be pursued, but they're different and so from the racial wealth gap and its elimination. Why are you focusing on the racial wealth gap in this context? I mean, part of this is about what wealth will do for funds. What is the significance of wealth? It's important to distinguish between wealth and income. Wealth can take the place of income, but income cannot take the place of wealth. We think of income. As one's earning, it's a consequence of actions, it's a consequence of work, time spent.
Services or materials for a fixed fee. Wealth on the other hand is a stock of assets. These are things that are happening while you're sleeping. Interest that's being earned on investments, on trust. Out or you're receiving rents or you're receiving mortgage payments from some other individual for property that you own or control. Wealth is the thing that gives individuals a reserve, a cushion. Wealth is the thing that makes it possible for you to move into a neighborhood with high amenities. Put your kids in private, primary, secondary schools, elite colleges if you choose. Wealth is the thing that makes it possible for individuals to obtain high quality medical care for. Legal counsel. Well, if it's something that allows you, if you choose to participate in the political process, we know that it's really important.
Country to not only vote, but if you're able to also support the political process financially. But not everybody can afford to do that. It's mostly people who have wealth, who have this opportunity to participate in our political life. This way. And what about the research that shows that the racial wealth gap is about the upper classes, that most of each group's wealth is concentrated within the upper classes and so reparations might not overall... Address the racial wealth gap among all classes of people? -Well, it's bad research. 25% of white households... Have a net worth in excess of $1 million. And this is only true for about 4% of black households. If you were to-- Examine the white households that are at the lowest end of the income distribution.
Those that are in the bottom quintile are what we refer to as the bottom 20% of the income distribution. They have a higher median level of wealth than all Black American households combined. And wealth resides all along the class structure. And relatedly, should there be a... Cap, an income cap on reparations? Like should the wealthiest Black American who would be eligible for reparations, should they be in the group of people? To get reparations. You know this is not a poverty relief program. Reparations is about a debt that the federal government owes to all Black Americans and is of U.S. slavery. When you think about recreation payments that have been made in the past internationally, but also domestically they didn't say
Oh, this person is too wealthy to receive reparations. So no, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, all these people would absolutely be eligible for reparations. Now, they could decide that they did not want to accept them if they chose, but they should not be excluded from reparations. - And they could. Make the decision to take their reparations payments and use them for whatever purpose they have in mind. One possibility would be -- Be to make a donation to the charitable organization that they prefer to support. - In your reparations framework. You've arrived at about $840,000 for each eligible Black household. How did you arrive at this number? Calculated that number on the basis of the estimate of the difference in average weight.
Between black and white households that's reported in the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, which is the most recent survey. That was taken to provide information about household net worth. We arrived at the figure of $840,900, which is-- The exact difference between white average household net worth and black average household net worth. If you to multiply that figure across the total number of black households, that differential, that Figure in the vicinity of $14 trillion. - And how much is that individually per person? We estimate that it's somewhere between $330,000 to $350,000 per person, eligible, lack of
And what about age? Like are we considering this for people who are 18 and up or just anyone? >> Yeah, I agree. Is that everyone who meets the criteria for eligibility would receive the funds, but certainly-- Individuals who are minors, those funds could be held in trust with them until they reach the age of maturity. And how should the United States finance reparations? What proposals seem the most plausible to-- The both of you. Well, when you look at what's happened just recently within the pandemic, the relief payments The US government simply made the decision that it would pay to assist Americans struggling with this pandemic. Taxes didn't go up. Did not occur. I think there may be an argument to be made that inflation has more to do with what has happened subsequently with supply chain problems related to the pandemic in part.
If you look at when the federal government bailed out the banks and other financial institutions, that didn't cause taxes to go up either. I mean, there's several options for paying the debt. You can direct the Federal Reserve to pay. You can direct the Treasury to pay. Because ours is a sovereign government, you don't necessarily have to tax to pay a debt. And the debt person is talking about is the debt that is Is owed to Black American descendants of US slavery as a consequence of the failure to provide the-- acre land grants to the newly emancipated in the aftermath of the Civil War. What will happen... When you have a new expenditure that is not supported directly by additional taxation, is you increase the deficit. Not necessarily increase the national debt. In our book, From Here to Equality, in the final chapter, we actually talk about inflation.
As being the fundamental barrier to any new federal expenditures. When we talk about ways in which the reparations plan could be structured to minimize the inflation risk, we suggest that the payments could be spread out over multiple years. Years. We say in the book that we wouldn't want it to be any longer than a decade, but that would reduce the amount of expenditure that's associated with the reparations plan in any given year. We also say that you could Provide the payments in the form of less liquid assets. So rather than making the payments exclusively take the form of some type of direct cash transfer, they could be provided in the form of trust account or some type of endowment or an annuity. In such a way that people would be constrained about spending the funds immediately.
That the argument that a reparations plan would be inflationary is really an argument that presumes certain ways in which the plan would be executed and also So that the individual recipients would not do any significant amount of savings out of the funds. So I want to move on to this vision that I mentioned earlier about the reparations program that you all outlined. And you have this powerful acronym, ARC, which stands for acknowledgement, Stress, and closure. What do these words mean individually and how do they each work together? So acknowledgement is a recognition and an admission on the part of the culpable party that they have committed a grievous injustice and that culpable party. In the context that we're talking about, we mean the United States government, that culpable party indicates.
That they're going to engage in an act of restitution for the atrocity or atrocities that they have committed. What would a formal apology from the United States be? Government look like? Is that Biden just getting on a mic somewhere and saying we're sorry for slavery or just like what would even an apology from the United States government look like? Each of the branches of Congress, I think. I think in 2007 and 2008 made apologies for slavery. But the Senate side of the apology precluded any kind of commitment to an active redress. The apology that we have in mind is one that would come from the United States Congress. And it would come with a Outline of the atrocities that the United States government is responsible for, as well as a commitment to do something about that in the form of compensation.
And were there just like a clause that said that? Oh yes. Like, although we're apologizing, we're not providing redress. Yeah. Absolutely. That's correct. There's an explicit clause in the Senate's apology to that effect. So then what would redress look like under your plan? So it could be one of two things. It could, and they're not necessarily mutually exclusive. It could be restitution or it could be atonement. The complication with restitution, however, is that you're talking about restoring a survivor's to the condition that they were in before the injustices took place. And this is not really possible to attain. Not only that, but many, many, many of the people who have been harmed have gone on their decisions.
Long deceased. But what one can do is to look at the people who are still living this legacy, as Sany talked about how the people who have borne the brunt of these different epochs, period of enslavement, nearly 100 years of legal segregation. Or white terror campaigns and the present moment where we're seeing police involved shootings of unarmed black women and men. Huge numbers, just a proportion of numbers. Mass incarceration, discrimination in education, discrimination in employment, in housing, in labor. I mean, basically you're talking about the material means for full citizenship rights, giving black American citizens of US slavery the wherewithal, finally, to step into their roles as full-fledged citizens. Edged American citizens. This has never happened. - And did you both also consider the idea of like going to--
each family that's been harmed and asking them what they want on an individual level? Like, what would be the issue with going to each individual? Family and saying, What is it that you want? What do you feel would be sufficient to address the harms that America has done? committed against your ancestors and you present day. I think you would get 40 million different answers. Wouldn't you? I mean, that would be an endless task. We'd be the next millennium collecting all those stories. Yeah, but I think That there are ways in which you could assess what the majority perspective is about what's desired. I pretty much convinced that among those black Americans who endorse reparations they It primarily would like direct payments to be made to them so that they would have full discretion over the use of the resources.
Now, that clearly is not a universal position, but I think that that is the predominant consensus around what reparations ought to look like. -And our rationale for that comes from our studying reparations efforts around the world that were successful. When you look at the victims of the Holocaust, a large percentage of those reparations funds went to individuals and the estates of the individuals Who had been harmed by the Holocaust. - And so finally, with closure, what does closure mean in this reparations program? The closure means a settling of accounts that the culpable party In this case, the United States government, and the community that merits redress, in this case, black American descendants of US slavery, reach a mutual agreement that the bill has been met,
has been paid. And this means in turn that the community meriting redress does not make Further claims on the United States government for compensation unless And this is a critical unless there is a renewal of the atrocities or... For a new type of atrocity that takes place. - Next, we'll get Kirsten and William's plan for reparations, including one of the most hotly debated aspects of the current conversation, who's eligible. you
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>> Let's talk about eligibility for reparations, which I feel like is the segment or the section where people have a lot to say in terms of who should qualify. But the both of you have identified something that's very clear, Eligible for reparations. So can you walk me through what those eligibility requirements are and how you arrived at those criteria? So there are two criteria that we use. One is that these are individuals who can demonstrate that they are descended from at least one person who... Enslaved United States. But the second criteria, and both would need to be in place, is that these are individuals who have self-identified as Black, African American, Negro, or Afro American for at least 12 years prior to the enactment of a reparations program or the passage of legislation.
Put such a program in place. - And why the 12 years? That's always been my question, what I've wondered. - So we initially were thinking about 10 years, but it's actually the length of two senatorial terms. And why do you believe the person has to self-identify as Black? Our concern is that you have. Some significant number of people who are living as white Americans who could probably demonstrate that they have an ancestor who was enslaved and United States. And we are concerned that individuals who are living as white should not be eligible to receive reparations. We have the 12 year condition in because we don't want people to suddenly declare that They're black once they know that reparations is something that is potentially going to be available to them. We don't want people to be black by convenience. So that's why we have both of those conditions.
Yeah, and we've certainly seen that happening a lot, I think, in pop culture as well, just people kind of jumping into blackness when it's convenient for them. So I think that's interesting. So my next question is just about genealogical research and just the time it would take for people to do this research and do people have the means to do this, especially when we consider the census? 2020 census continued the long-standing trend of undercounting black people. So how can we help people? and make sure we don't leave people out. So every day there are more finding aids being created and placed online. Just in the last six months, the entire free—
Bureau records have been placed online. But one of the provisions that we call for is the creation of a federal agency that provides genealogical research at no cost to individuals who are attempting to make their claim for eligibility. But yes, we understand that it's a time-consuming process, but the tools that are being used utilized today are much more sophisticated and effective, especially because many, many, many more records, like all the Black newspapers now, are available and searchable online. And why do you think-- I think this is being met with so much criticism or just people saying that your idea of eligibility is too narrow and leaves out people who have been living under white Americans. Violence for decades and their families, you know, have been here for generations. Why can't they be included? well, especially if we're thinking about the racial wealth gap. Well, actually, there aren't that many black
Americans whose families have been here for multiple generations who were not connected in some way to to being descendants of persons who were enslaved here. But I think our point of view is black people virtually anywhere across the diaspora have a claim for reparations. But not necessarily on the United States government. Patey and Haitians have a claim on France. Perversely, France extracted reparations from Haiti. We think all of those monies should go back to Haiti with interest, perhaps in addition to other compensation that's due to Haiti. The countries of the Caribbean that were former British colonies through CARICOM have been seeking restitution from the United Kingdom, and they've been very directive about that, Included black American descendants of US slavery and their claim, nor--
could they, but simultaneously, then there should not be an expectation that blacks From the Caribbean should be included in a claim that's being made by black American descendants of U.S. slavery. - When you're talking about a group of people who voluntarily migrated to United States, comparing them to folks who were forced here in shackles, I mean, it strikes us as a bit odd that of all the places these individuals could have gone, they elected to come to United States. And our question would be, did you not watch those newsreels? When you migrate to a country, you migrate to its history and to its obligations. And from our point of view, you know, what would make perfect sense would be for these black people who are immigrating here from other places to say, we stand with black Americans and U.S. slavery, and we want to encourage.
We want to encourage Congress to engage in a national redress program for them. This is what needs to happen. From Haiti in the 1960s. I want to say late 60s is one. Some of my aunts and uncles came over, my parents themselves came in the late 70s. And so. I was having this discussion with my brother some weeks ago, and he's like, Dang, I just read somewhere that, like, the claim for reparations is for, like, people who... Are descendants of slavery in the United States. And I was kind of the one telling him, like, doesn't that sound right to you? Like, isn't that fair? What I want to articulate is the feeling of, There's a str-
Struggle that's happening across continents, across borders. The producer of the series, John Quillen, is descended from Black people who were enslaved in America and we were having this conversation. She wonders, why wouldn't all Black people here make... This claim and she mentioned the sentiment that because our struggles are bound together, We try to be more expansive. And almost it feels like, right, when you're born into a country of immigrant parents, it's almost like you grow up feeling like an outcast. I'm a race reporter. I write about race in the United States and it's just fascinating to write about this but then also kind of realize like, yes, this is my story, but also this is not.
Exactly my story when I think about the history and write about it. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you can think about all of these groups coming forward and making progress simultaneously side by side, strengthening each other, drawing courage and, you know, deep compassion from each other, but our stories are not identical. There's richness in our separate histories, and I think it's really important, especially given that we're all the work that you're doing to hold up those stories. You're far too young to have been around when there was an international push to put whatever kind of pressure to bear that you could to end apartheid in South Africa. I was a college student at the time, and I joined a group called Operations Support Committee.
Mozambique in front of the South African Embassy and the Rhodesian Information Center because of their racist minority regimes which rule over the majority population. And here, in front of the US State Department, to protest this... Country's trade agreements with South Africa and importation of Rhodesian chrome ore, despite a...
United Nations embargo against it. -We were marching. We were writing letters. So there's definitely a precedent for Black American descendants of U.S. slavery, like myself, pushing for the end of apartheid in South Africa, which really had nothing to do with me personally, but I was personally offended by what was happening to those Black people. I think that same kind of solidarity enacted on behalf of Black American descendants of U.S. slavery would be one of the most incredible things to create unity, to create, you know, more occasions for folk to delve into each other's history. It only is divisive if we decide that that's what we're going to be engaged in. I do want to respond to your point, Kirsten, about people seeing these stories and seeing what's happening in the United States and still making the trip.
To come. I do want to point out, like, if again the example of Haiti, right, we have the US occupation of Haiti starting as early as nine- 1915. I don't know, I feel Say that in many cases for people leaving certain countries, maybe there isn't so much as like a free choice as opposed to something that you have to do to survive. - We can talk about the pressure to-- and we can identify many cases in the modern world where people are forced immigrants or forced migrants. But what is somewhat different is To some degree, they frequently have some options about where to go, even if they have to leave their home country. Whereas in the context of the United States, the United States is a very different country. To the transatlantic slave trade, there was no discretion on either side of the process. That does raise the question as to why people might choose
To a blatantly racist country if they are black. Perception that there's some benefit to them for coming here that would more than offset their potential exposure to racism. So I want to get into another aspect of the conversation that's happening among the African diaspora in America. At one point, the group ADOS, American Descendants of Slavery, aligned with your work. The group's been called xenophobic and anti-anxiety. By critics. So what is your relationship to ADOS? And what do you make of the broader ADOS movement that has emerged in the past few years? Well, I think that there's at least a couple of things that That we think resonate well that emerged from the ADOS movement, at least initially. The first is the view that out of multiple
Communities, black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved in the United States are their own unique cultural and national community. And then the second thing is that reparations from the United States government should target that community specifically. So on those two... I think there's no inconsistency with the positions that have been taken by individuals who align themselves with ADOS. We depart from the anti-immigrant rhetoric that some people in the ADOS movement have adopted. And I think there has been somewhat of a tendency to conflate the to conflate the Eidos movement overall with a
Subset of individuals who espouse those kinds of positions. Coming up, there are reparations projects happening all over the country, but are efforts enough to pay the debt that's owed? Hi, this is Scott Galloway. And I'm Ed Elson. And we're the hosts, the co-hosts. It's kind of unfair to call us hosts. Co-hosts. I'm really the host. He's my Robin Givens. Let's just be clear on what this is. But anyways, we're the hosts of Prov Team Market.
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You've been vocal in your criticism of smaller reparations projects happening around the country. Think of what's underway in Evanston, Illinois, or at colleges and universities like Georgetown University, for example. Why do you think it's ineffective to focus on individual purpose? For traders in smaller institutions, or what you call piecemeal reparations. - Let's take example, this piecemeal project in Evanston, Illinois. JOHN YANG, The Washington Post Newsreel Musical.com/Newsreel. Evanston, Illinois, is a suburb on Chicago's North Side lakefront. It's the home of Northwestern University. About 16 percent of its 75 percent of its population is North Side. 5,000 residents are Black. This week, the Evanston City Council voted 8-1 to begin to make good on its... Promise to spend $10 million in reparations over 10 years. First up, $400,000 to compensate for past discriminatory housing practices.
Offices, individual grants of up to $25,000 a person to Black residents who can show their They or their families lived in the city between 1919 and 1969. The money can be used for down payments, mortgage payments, repairs, or home improvements. Almost all-- Now, we know that the current market value of Newhouse $450,000. So you have a house that you're comfortable with, but you really could use some help with your retirement account or you'd like to contribute that to... Your children's or your own college tuition, or you'd like to pay off a loan. You can't do that. Not only that, the money goes not to the individuals, but directly to the banks. What we've learned is that these are the same banks that disadvantaged Black
Borrowers in the first place. So this is basically a housing voucher program masquerading as reparations and it's fine to have. Housing voucher program, but call it that. Our concern is that as these projects pop Up that there will be many people who oppose reparations who will say, We don't need a national program. Why are we even talking about this? It's done. We think that language is really important. Let's call those projects racial equity initiatives and leave the term of reparations for the sacred mission of eliminating the racial wealth gap, of putting the US government in the position that it has always been of the culpable party. And the capable party, the party that's responsible for creating and maintaining the racial wolf gap.
That reparations aren't enough. Like, I remember Obama during his presidency saying that reparations are the easy way. Thing to do, but reparations take us away from doing the hard work, which is, you know, passing policies that would support black Americans long term. So does your framework consider other policy implications? And if not, why not? Say first, reparations is not easy, where we'd already have them. And I always say, let's run that experiment and deliver reparations, and then we can talk about what else needs to be done. In our book, From Here to Equality, we never say that a cash payment is all that needs to take place. We talk about all of the difficulties. That Black Americans and some U.S. slavery are dealing with today. You know, discrimination in housing and education and employment and credit markets. We talk about why people...
Which are two environmental hazards. We talk about anti-black violence. At the hands of police and mass incarceration. And we say that reparations claim that Black Americans Of U.S. slavery would be making against the U.S. government would not be fulfilled until all of these atrocities happened. Ended and the new ones have not been visited upon the eligible community. Have had a host of social programs in the United States. If we go back to at the least as early as the New Deal, there has been multiple social programs. Those social programs for the most part have been income supplement programs. They have not been programs that were designed to to build people's assets, and in particular, not to build Black people's assets.
Talking about an asset building strategy for Black Americans that would bring their level of wealth up to a level that would be on par with the net worth that is held by white Americans. So, as the two of you have outlined for us today, you have a very comprehensive vision of what a reparations program... Could look like and why we need reparations. So I'm curious, what are you still trying to figure out about reparations? Are there any big questions that the both of you are still grappling with as the experts? - I think the biggest question for me at this point. Is how do we sustain the momentum in growth and support for reparations, particularly. Literally from white Americans. Circa the year 2000, only about 4% of white Americans endorsed reparations as payments to Black Americans.
Americans whose ancestors were enslaved in the United States. And today that figure is closer to 30 percent. And so the great— question is, given that sharp, sharp change in support, is how can we Push that figure closer to 50% to 55% of white Americans to make the prospect of action. Adoption of a comprehensive reparations plan a reality. This is the moment, I think, for a lot of young people today. This is another opportunity to stand up and be counted, to lobby and petition Congress, to talk to people in your formal and informal communities. Your family, your classes, the people that you work with, but also your book club, your artisanal beer collective, you know, your ultimate Frisbee group. And I just want to encourage your listeners
to embrace this moment. Kirsten and William, thank you so much for being with us today. Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these important issues. Thanks for talking with us. Hey, it's John Pullen. We hope you enjoyed today's episode. Find the rest of the reparation series over in the gray area feed. Just look for the 40 acres series. I want to thank my Colleague Fabiola Senius for joining me at the beginning of the show and sharing this interview with us. Weeds is produced by Sophie Lalonde. This episode was engineered by Patrick Boyd. Additional help from Eric-- And Amy Drozdowska, and A.M. Hall is our editorial director.
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Transcript generated on 2024-05-25.