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Congress is again discussing reparations for slavery. It's a complex and thorny issue

February 18, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 17.9%. 2 min read.

Lawmakers have been advocating for a federal effort to study slavery reparations for more than 30 years now, to no avail. But in the past year, the debate has taken on a new urgency.

(CNN)Slavery reparations are back in the national spotlight.

And though the White House press secretary declined to say whether President Joe Biden would sign legislation to develop reparations for slavery, she did say he supported a study on the matter.

Lawmakers have been advocating for a federal effort to study slavery reparations for more than 30 years now -- to no avail.

The idea of giving Black people reparations for slavery dates back to right after the end of the Civil War (think 40 acres and a mule).

The bill proposes the creation of a federal commission to study reparations and recommend remedies for the harm caused by slavery and the discriminatory policies that followed abolition.

Lawmakers heard testimony from several people who spoke about why reparations were necessary for the nation to heal from slavery.

When it comes to a national slavery reparations effort, scholars and advocates generally agree that the US government should pay -- given that it enshrined, supported and protected the institution of slavery.

William Darity, professor of public policy at Duke University and co-author of "From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century," told Quartz last year that the government could draw the money against the national debt and paid for it by selling treasury bonds -- similar to how the coronavirus stimulus checks operated.

Similarly, state governments might pay for state-level slavery reparations efforts.

Heath said that while financial payments are a key part of slavery reparations, the process should go beyond that.

Chuck Collins, an author and a program director at the Institute for Policy Studies, told CNN in 2019 that reparations could seek to address the discrimination Black people have experienced in home ownership or higher education.

Reparation funds could also be used to provide one-time endowments to start museums and historical exhibits on slavery, Collins said.

Opponents of reparations argue that all the slaves are dead, no White person living today owned slaves or that all the immigrants that have come to America since the Civil War don't have anything to do with slavery.

He also told CNN he feels America made up for slavery long ago, so reparations aren't needed.

Activist groups, like the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America and the Restitution Study Group, sprang up during this period.

Black Lives Matter includes slavery reparations in its list of proposals to improve the economic lives of Black Americans.

California became the first state in the country last year to enact a law to study and develop proposals for slavery reparations.

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