By Jhumpa Bhattacharya and Trevor Smith August 4, 2022
Public concern about systemic racial and economic inequities and their causes has increased in the past two years—particularly in the wake of COVID-19’s devastating economic impact and the police murder of George Floyd. Solving these deeply embedded, intersecting inequities necessitates real structural change at both the federal and local levels to dismantle barriers to economic stability and wealth building, especially those faced by Black people. The racial reckoning of 2020 created some momentum toward greater economic and racial equity in America, but, as always, hoped-for progress has been thwarted. One proposal that has stalled, despite its central place in the 2020 Democratic primary debates, is reparations. If passed, H.R. 40 would study the impact of slavery and make recommendations for reparations, but the bill, which was first introduced in 1989, has been introduced every year since and still has not been brought to the floor for a vote. While movement has been made toward reparations—the latest being a new report from a California reparations task force—the work to repair the harm perpetrated upon Black Americans by the US government is akin to a marathon, not a sprint. … Narratives containing Manchin’s cynical view of his constituents are not new; they have always been a key player in policy making. They contribute to our understanding of the world and reinforce economic policies that repeatedly leave Black people behind. The fight for CTC expansion highlighted that sexist, anti-Black narratives impact not only Black people, but all Americans by preventing us from building systems and passing policies that allow for shared prosperity and a fairer nation. As the Insight Center highlighted in its recent report, Still Running Up the Down Escalator—co-authored by Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center for Social Equity—these narratives contain and reproduce some of America’s most deeply held social beliefs.