Pa. out front: How the argument over reparations is moving into state capitols | Friday Morning Coffee

Friday, October 4, 2019
Pennsylvania Capital-Star

State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadelphia (Image viaStateline.org)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

We first reported back in June that state Rep. Chris Rabb was drafting legislation that would both provide reparations for descendants of African slaves and provide some redress for the ensuing centuries of institutional racism.

And while Rabb, a Philadelphia Democrat, has begun seeking co-sponsors for his legislation, and researching the best way to go about reparations, he’s found himself a part of a larger national conversation about America’s original sin. And it’s one that is moving from Washington D.C. to state capitols across the country,

As our colleagues at Stateline.org report this week, lawmakers in four states, California, Texas, New York, and Vermont, have each introduced separate reparations proposals. Each are states that outlawed slavery after the Civil War — or never allowed it in the first place.

It’s certainly going to be a while — if ever — before any of these laws get on the books in their respective states.

Nonetheless, the conversations have been given new energy, as lawmakers have become increasingly aware of slavery’s long-term implications for such issues as criminal justice reform, education, and the wealth gap. In addition, increased hate crimes activity nationwide over the last few years has also helped to drive awareness, Stateline reported.

“I’m surprised to see the action going on at the state level,” Thomas Craemer, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut, told Stateline. He became interested in reparations because of the history of the Holocaust and the postwar reparations program in his native Germany, Stateline reported.

“Suddenly reparations has hit the mainstream,” Craemer told Stateline. The academic is part of a national team of experts organized by Duke University professor William Darity, charged with crafting a proposal outlining the argument for reparations, and how they would be implemented,

Critics of the state-level efforts, however, argue the issue should be handled by the federal government. And they’re not sure how the proposals would be paid for and who would qualify for payments, Stateline reported.

“It’s a weird sense of accountability,” Walter Williams, a George Mason University economics professor , told Stateline.

“What people are suggesting is that we help a black person of today by punishing a white person of today for what a white person of yesterday did to a black [person] of yesterday,” Williams, who is black, and opposes all reparations, told Stateline. “That’s a perverse sense of justice in my opinion.”

Read the full article here .