Biden’s top aide says White House will ‘start acting now’ on reparations for African Americans
'We have to do stuff now to improve the plights, status, and future empowerment of Black people all around the country'
This week, President Joe Biden‘s senior advisor, Cedric Richmond, confirmed that the White House plans “to start acting now” on reparations for African-American citizens.
Richmond made the stunning admission to journalist Mike Allen during Sunday evening’s broadcast of Axios on HBO. In the interview, the former Louisiana lawmaker explained to Allen that Biden remains consistent in his support of H.R. 40, the House of Representatives bill that received a Congressional hearing last month, that would look into the issue of reparations.
“We have to start breaking down systemic racism and barriers that have held people of color back, and especially African-Americans who were enslaved,” Richmond explained. “We have to do stuff now to improve the plights, status, and future empowerment of Black people all around the country.”
When the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a Zoom hearing on reparations, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, Biden “would support a study of reparations” and pointed to an executive order the president signed that begins to “address racial inequality.”
But Richmond seemingly took a more concrete stance, explaining, “We don’t want to have to wait on a study that we even support. We’re going to start acting now.”
However, after Allen asked if there would be actual financial payments given to descendants of slaves, the White House advisor was less definitive.
“I can’t tell you if, what the time frame on the bill is, but I can tell you this. If you start talking about free college tuition to [historically black colleges and universities] and you start talking about free community college and all of those things, I think that you are well on your way,” Richmond responded.
Last week, on an episode of his podcast series with Bruce Springsteen, called Renegades: Born in the USA, former President Barack Obama revealed that while he does believe reparations for Black Americans are ‘justified,’ the overt resistance from white people in power stopped him from pushing for it during his own presidency.
“We never went through a true reckoning and so we just buried one huge part of our experience and our citizenry in our minds,” Obama responded.
“So if you ask me theoretically: ‘Are reparations justified?’ The answer is yes,” he admitted to the 71-year-old rock legend. “There’s not much question that the wealth of this country, the power of this country was built in significant part — not exclusively, maybe not even the majority of it — but a large portion of it was built on the backs of slaves.”
“What I saw during my presidency was the politics of white resistance and resentment, the talk of welfare queens and the talk of the undeserving poor and the backlash against affirmative action,” the 59-year-old continued.
“All that made the prospect of actually proposing any kind of coherent, meaningful reparations program struck me as, politically, not only a non-starter but potentially counter-productive.”
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