Members of the Project 21 black leadership network said that the legislative proposal to study giving reparations to descendants of slaves is a “sham,” calling the idea both unnecessary and divisive.
The proposal in question is Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s (D-TX) bill HR 40, which would set up a commission to study reparations strategies. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing on the bill on Wednesday.
The text of the bill states:
To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.
But Project 21 members said in a statement the black Americans have the same opportunities to live the American Dream as all Americans and that the proposal is a “crass political move to drum up black support and will only hurt race relations.”
“Reparations is a sham,” Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper said. “This so-called study is solely presented as a means of checking a box called locking up black support.”
“There will not be a payment,” Cooper said. “And, by falling for this sham, Congress has made it clear that there will be no meaningful requirement that policies beneficial to blacks will ever come from this House of Representatives.”
“Our country was built on slavery, but those who deserve reparations, unfortunately, passed away a long time ago,” Project 21 member Derrick Hollie said. “And the wealth disparity that resulted from slavery in the United States is as strong today as it ever was – along with racial inequality and injustice in education, employment, incarceration, and housing.”
“These issues, however, cannot be resolved in form of a check,” Hollie said. “Instead we need to make sure our lawmakers continue to put forth policies that will have a positive impact on descendants of slaves.”
“They must also be wise enough not to promote policies like the ‘Green New Deal’ that similarly push false hope,” Hollie said, referring to the radical resolution proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that would fundamentally transform the U.S. economy and infrastructure, end air travel and fossil fuel production and guarantee jobs and health care to all Americans.
“Slavery ended more than 150 years ago,” Project 21 member Donna Jackson said in the statement. “It doesn’t make sense to force people who didn’t own slaves to pay people who never were slaves.”
“Like Confederate statues, pandering to the black community with promises of free money is a big political diversion,” Jackson said. “The best reparations for slavery is freedom — especially a free-market economy.”
“Our goal should be to continue to build on the accomplishments of the Trump administration that include record-low unemployment, opportunities for entrepreneurship and deregulation,” Jackson said.
“Congress should be reminding blacks that opportunities do exist for them and have existed for generations,” Project 21 member Emery McClendon said. “It’s up to individuals to discover these opportunities to succeed. Let’s flip the script from reparations to personal responsibility.”
“The latter will bring about lasting results,” McClendon said.
“Project 21 recently compiled 57 policy recommendations addressing all of these issues and more in a free-market, budget-neutral manner in its Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America,” the press release sent with the statement said.
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