Duke University public policy professor on reparations vs. atonement

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Evanston, Illinois announced this month it will pay $400,000 in reparations to eligible Black families.

Each person will receive $25,000 for home repairs or a down payment on a home.

But economist William Darity, Duke University Professor of Public Policy, says this payment should not by characterized as reparations, but rather a race equity initiative.

"The magnitude of what's required to pursue true reparations is a project that would eliminate racial wealth differences in the United States," said Dr. Darity.

Darity says that falls squarely on the federal government, who he blames for the wealth gap between blacks and whites.

In Fact, Darity estimates the feds owe Black American descendants of the enslaved a total of up to $12 trillion dollars.

Darity says the figure represents those false promises of 40 acres and mule after slavery, nearly a century of Jim Crow segregation, mass incarceration, and racial discrimination that persists in housing and employment.

"So as a consequence, they have not had the same capacity to transfer those kinds of benefits across generations," said Darity.

A typical white household has $180,000 in accumulated wealth.

A Black household has just $23,000.

It's estimated that a Black person with a college-degree only has two-thirds of the net worth than a white high school dropout has, according to the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

"I think Professor Darity is right that it's gotta come at the national level. But in so many cases cities and municipalities have been the laboratories of democracies. Often times what starts as a local idea is picked up nationally," said Durham City Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton.

Durham City Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton is hoping that will happen with a race equity program launching exclusively this fall in the Bull City.

It's called Mayors Guaranteed Income.

The city is among 30 others nationwide receiving a $500,000 private grant to help low-income residents.

Middleton and Councilman Pierce Freelon propose giving $500 monthly checks to 115 newly-released inmates over a 12-month-period.

Researchers will measure how the money helped.

Illinois city becomes 1st in US to pay reparations to Black Americans

The checks will likely go to former inmates of color.

North Carolina is one of 12 states where Blacks make up 72 percent of the prison population, according to the sentencing project.

"All of the issues you can think of that challenge folk, employment, stigmatism, housing..this group tends to encapsulate all these issues," said Middleton.

The proposal will be reviewed in a few weeks.

The program would start in October.
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