Albany Dems considering reparations for black New Yorkers
New York State lawmakers are set to pass a bill creating a nine-member commission to examine whether black New Yorkers should receive reparations for slavery and other historical wrongs. The commission will offer non-binding suggestions on how cash payments, “laws, policies, programs” or other approaches could be used to address racial inequality. The proposal, sponsored by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, has pushed New York towards the center of a national debate over reparations, despite potential political dangers for Democrats following similar efforts in California. The bill is expected to pass both chambers of the state legislature by Friday before being sent to Governor Kathy Hochul before the end of the year.
What is the bill proposing?
The bill would create a nine-member commission to examine if black New Yorkers should receive reparations for slavery and other historical wrongs. It will offer non-binding suggestions on how to address racial inequality, including cash payments, programs or other approaches.
Who is sponsoring the bill?
The bill is being sponsored by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Valley Stream).
What is the argument for reparations?
Supporters of reparations argue that black New Yorkers have suffered ongoing discrimination and disadvantage as a result of systemic racism stemming from slavery. The bill argues that systemic racism has cemented a legacy of generational poverty, instances of voter suppression, housing discrimination, biased policing, food apartheid, and disproportionate rates of incarceration.
What is the argument against reparations?
Critics argue that the costs of a reparation program would be high and that the proposal may divide New Yorkers. Some argue that writing checks on the basis of race would inherently punish millions of New Yorkers for historical wrongs that they had nothing to do with.
Albany Democrats Contemplate Compensation for African American New Yorkers.
Lawmakers in New York state are expected to pass legislation by the end of the week to examine whether black New Yorkers deserve reparations for slavery and other historical wrongs. The bill proposes the creation of a nine-member commission to offer non-binding suggestions on how cash payments, “laws, policies, programs” or other approaches could address racial inequality. Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, who is sponsoring the bill, says that reparations is about more than compensation and that New York is in a unique position to define the conversation around reparations. The legislation pushes the Empire State towards the centre of a national debate over reparations.
Despite the potential political dangers to Democrats following similar efforts in places like California, lawmakers are determined to progress the legislation. Earlier this year, a San Francisco panel recommended black residents receive individual payouts of $5m while a California state task force floated a minimum of $365,000 per person.
If the legislation passes in New York, it is expected to be sent to Governor Kathy Hochul before the end of the year. Hochul said that she would have to review it, consider it, and think about it.
Republicans are expected to oppose the bill, arguing that it will divide New Yorkers while doing little to address the effects of racism. Assemblyman Jarrett Gandolfo said that writing checks on the basis of race would inherently punish millions of New Yorkers for historical wrongs they had nothing to do with. Critics also point to the costs of a reparation program.
The sheer number of enslaved New Yorkers highlights the scale of slavery in the Empire State until the practice was abolished in 1828. The African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan, which contains roughly 15,000 skeletons of enslaved and free Black New Yorkers from the 17th and 18th centuries, highlights the scale of slavery in New York for roughly half its history.