In the wake of at least a few 2020 presidential candidates coming forward in support of using reparations to lessen racial inequality, House Majority Whip James Clyburn has pushed back stating he takes issue with the idea.
According to The Hill, Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, who also happens to be the highest ranking African American congressman, says he thinks “pure reparations would be impossible to implement,” and believes that giving any sort of tax incentives to developers who work in low-income neighborhoods is just, “smoke and mirrors.”
In previous elections neither Hillary Clinton or former president Barack Obama expressed support for reparations, but the perspective on this issue appears to be shifting among major Democratic candidates for the upcoming 2020 race.
Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, as well as former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said they all have publicly stood in solidarity with those seeking to give reparations to Black Americans whose families were affected by slavery.
Some speculate that the renewed interest in this issue may be due to that fact that Black voters are expected to be a key demographic in the Democratic primary and the crowded field of candidates are likely to fight hard to win black votes.
On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she supports taking a closer look at the issue of reparations for slavery.
“As you probably are aware, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has legislation to study this issue, and I support that,” she said in response to a question about reparations during an event at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
“One of the things that we can do not only just in terms of trying to make up for a horrible, sinful thing that happened in our country in terms of slavery, but for our country to live up to who we think we are,” she continued.
Sen. Harris did receive some backlash when she gave her perspective on reparations. In an interview, she told The New York Times she supported reparations for Black Americans.
But in a conversation with theGrio, she proposed what she called the LIFT Act, a wide-sweeping tax plan and cash income program, which on average will provide an additional $500 monthly to working families and single people.
“We have got to… do something about that and give folks a lift up. That’s why for example I’m proposing the LIFT Act: Give people who are making $100,000 or less as a family a tax credit, which will benefit and uplift 60 percent of Black families who are in poverty,” she explained.
But critics swiftly balked at the notion, saying it does not specifically target the needs of African Americans.
“We are very critical of Kamala Harris’ position in regard to a Black agenda. The LIFT ACT does very little if anything to fix or correct ADOS’ substantial positional problem in regard to wealth,” said attorney and writer, Antonio Moore, who is a co-founder of ADOS (American Descendants of Slaves), a movement that advocates for reparations.
“We’re talking about how we make up the wealth that was lost because the cost that we paid from coming from chattel slaves — and the cost of those chattel slaves paid,” says Yvette Carnell, also an ADOS co-founder.