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US economist proposes $12 trillion in slavery reparations to eliminate black-white wealth gap

Aug 14, 2020
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EPA
EPA

A renowned economist has said that $12 trillion should be afforded to black Americans in reparation for slavery to help the close wealth gap.

Duke University professor, William Darity Jr, and writer, Kirsten Mullen, jointly published a report for The Roosevelt Institute, an American liberal think tank, laying out a case for slavery reparations.

Prof Darity and Ms Mullen outline that to eliminate the existing Black-White wealth gap an allocation of between $10 trillion and $12 trillion, or about $800,000 per black household, should be paid.

The report says that the “US government—the culpable party—must pay the debt”.

“Ultimately, respect for black Americans as people and as citizens—and acknowledgement, redress, and closure for the history and financial hardship they have endured—requires monetary compensation,” the report reads.

The proposal comes as the demand for consideration of the case for reparations resurfaces across the county amidst ongoing national civil unrest following the death of George Floyd.

Over 140 members of congress have to date co-signed the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, which was introduced into the house in March.

Only two members signed the bill when it was proposed in 2014, the broadcaster reported.

Prof Darity told CNBC: “the present moment seems to afford more of an opportunity to move forward than any moment I’ve experienced in my lifetime.”

The report details that eligibility for payments should be restricted to living descendants of people who were enslaved in the US prior to the Civil War, who have “self-identified” as black on an official document.

“In short, the reparations plan we put forward designates black American descendants of US slavery as the target community,” it reads.

A large majority of Americans still oppose the use of one-time payments to address the persistent wealth gap between black and white citizens.

Only one in five respondents agreed the United States should use “taxpayer money to pay damages to descendants of enslaved people”, according to Reuters and Ipsos polls in June.

However, Prof Darity and Ms Mullen maintain that “eliminating the black-white (pre-tax) wealth differential should be a core objective of the redress component of a plan for reparations.”

Prof Darity has studied the rationale and design of reparations for more than 30 years. Ms Mullen is a lecturer whose work focuses on race, art, history.

Their new report is adapted from their new book From Here to Equality.

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