By Annisa Essack
Joe Biden, they say, was blunter about racism than perhaps any president before him. As a candidate, Biden said he supported a commission on reparations. In the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, reparations for slavery was a hot topic and won the nomination by capturing the Black vote in South Carolina. But glaring in its omission has been Biden’s endorsement of the H.R. 40 Bill.
Dr Brooks Spector, retired American diplomat, Associate producer for the Daily Maverick and freelance commentator for radio /T.V., spoke to Radio Islam International to shed light on this topic.
The HR40 Bill has proposed legislation, which, if passed by the Senate and the Upper House, will not provide money to individuals but is designed instead to establish a commission to study the question of “whether and how and to whom and what amount such a policy of reparation would apply”, explained Spector.
Dr Spector referred to previous acts of reparation that were passed but only after a long period – monetary reparations to people who had been moved involuntarily and then incarcerated and some who were affected by the 911 attacks and fulfilled a set of criteria. He then compared the current reparation, which he says was different as there has been no enslavement since 1865. This means that there are no victims of slavery alive in the 21st century.
Furthermore, identifying the recipients would be a difficult task, although not impossible. Several criteria needed to be looked into, and therefore “the commission is important in setting the ground rules and a base of agreement on what constitutes the universe of these issues”, explained Spector.
According to Spector, the reasons why President Biden has been silent on the issues may be that there are more pressing issues like inflation, gun control, the war between Ukraine and Russia, and the aftermath of COVID.
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