Will Black Lives Matter revive the debate over reparations?
The case for reparations is typically made as a form of economic compensation to descendants of slaves. These days, some racial activists also make the case for reparations as compensation for systemic discrimination in law enforcement.
Several black leaders addressed Democratic state legislators Friday at the State Innovation Exchange in Washington, D.C.
“Thinking about decriminalization with reparations,” Marbre Shahly-Butts, deputy director of racial justice at the Center for Popular Democracy, said. “The idea is we that have extracted literally millions of dollars from communities, we have destroyed families. Mass incarceration has led to the destruction of communities across the country. We can track which communities, like we have that data. And so if we’re going to be decriminalizing things like marijuana, all of the profit from that should go back to the folks we’ve extracted it from.” That comment received widespread applause from the crowd of Democratic state legislators. Shahly-Butts was referring to decriminalizing more than drug crimes, but also loitering, bans on saggy pants and thousands of other laws that disproportionately affect blacks.
Shahly-Butts added, “‘Reparations’ makes people kind of uncomfortable, so we can call it ‘reinvestment’ if you want to. Use whatever language makes you happy inside.”