Is Evanston, IL right to pay $10M in Black 'reparations'?


Fact Box

  • After the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the United States erupted in protests, calls for police reform, and focus on Black lives throughout Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis, and other big cities. 
  • Evanston, Illinois is the first US city to offer reparations for Black residents to “remedy racial disparities.” The City Council pledged to give $10 million throughout the decade, starting with $400,000 to Black eligible households. The money will come from sales of recreational marijuana and some private donations. 
  • Housing reparations are a reference to certain discriminatory practices like “redlining” when banks refused housing loans to Black neighborhoods in the early 1900s. The practice was outlawed by the 1968 Fair Housing Act
  • In 2019, the population of Evanston, Illinois was estimated at 73,473 with 16.5% of the population of Black origin.

Bill (No) 

Evanston, IL is misguided in its plan to pay $10M in Black' reparations' as the foundation for any reparations claims is ludicrous. Blacks in 2021 have no barriers to success. The Great Society and civil rights initiatives of the 1960's erased any remaining inequities in opportunity for Blacks and even created racial preferences for them in the college admissions process

It's insulting to Blacks to assume that in 2021 they need a handout from the government. What if the 2021 family is not struggling, considering the city was ranked the 4th wealthiest city in the Midwest in 2016? Evanston would still pay $25K to a family because their ancestors may have had their apartment rental application denied 100 years ago. 

Reparation payments would only create an arbitrary privileged class of citizens, favoring people today whose ancestors may or may not have been discriminated against for housing or mortgages. Moreover, Evanston's reparations eligibility requirements are likewise unworkable. The applicants must prove their ancestors were discriminated against a century ago. How can they possibly provide evidence to support this assertion? 

There's a reason that reparations are very unpopular among Americans—only 1 in 4 support these efforts. Reparations opponents would point to welfare, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid, and government housing as examples of government efforts to address economic injustice. All reparation plans are entirely discriminatory. This race-based discrimination is likely to increase racial tensions and divide Americans as non-Blacks will be resentful they're not eligible for the government payouts. Evanston’s reparations plan is woefully ill-advised.

Tyler (Yes) 

The city of Evanston's decision to initiate a reparations plan for Black Americans is long overdue, and cities across the nation should follow suit. Black Americans have suffered at the United States government's hands long after the Civil War ended in 1865. For the past four centuries, the United States has operated in a complete state of racial imbalance from our government's own doing. 

Black Americans are the only minority group that has not received a form of reparations for the atrocities they suffered under slavery and lawful racial discrimination prior to 1964. After the Holocaust, Germany was said to have contributed nearly $92 billion in reparations to the Jewish community. Government assistance is necessary for an ethnic group to financially and socially rebuild after a traumatic and socially hindering period of time. To this day, Black Americans experience poverty nearly three times more than White Americans. 

After the Civil War, Union General William Sherman signed Field Order 15. This order ensured that each Black family in the United States would receive 40 acres of land. However, the order was overturned immediately after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by his replacement, Andrew Johnson. While these Black Americans were free, they were left with little to no money and often headed directly into poverty

Blacks continued to receive racist, discriminatory treatment by the government long after the Civil War. Currently, Blacks are nearly eight times more likely to be incarcerated in the United States. Although reparations won’t by any stretch make Blacks whole again, this is a crucial first step towards racial equality.

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