Community advocates celebrate direct cash payment reparations option but push for more funding

a stack of $100 bills spread like a hand of cards on top of a white envelope

By Pavan Acharya May 29, 2023

In March, City Council approved a direct cash payment option for all recipients of the city’s reparations program, following years of community advocacy for the option. However, many local activists still feel the Restorative Housing Program currently does not do enough to repair harm against Black residents from decades of discriminatory policies. … Some, including Duke University Prof. William Darity, have argued the city should not implement a local reparations program and should instead advocate for national efforts, because the federal government is primarily responsible for current conditions. “The primary objective of a reparations plan must be to eliminate the racial wealth gap in the United States,” Darity said. “(Evanston) doesn’t really have the capacity to meet the minimum target for a reparations plan.” A scholar and author on reparations, Darity spoke at a City Council meeting in 2019 when the body was considering creating a reparations fund. Darity said he thinks the direct cash payment option is an “improvement” for the program and is less “paternalistic.” But despite the changes, he still believes the $25,000 payment does not constitute reparations. Darity said the federal government has previously employed direct cash payments as a method of reparations — such as with the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which awarded $20,000 to Japanese American citizens for ordeals they suffered due to internment camps during World War II — and can do so again.