During Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate, CNN’s Don Lemon directed a question about the issue of reparations for Black Americans to Marianne Williamson, the "wellness guru" candidate and Oprah’s spiritual coach. Williamson, who has been running her platform on “healing the soul of America,” has an incredibly straightforward reparations plan, aimed at healing the country’s racial divisions.
“Many of your opponents support a commission to study the issue of reparations for slavery, but you are calling for up to $500 billion in financial assistance. What makes you qualified to determine how much is owed in reparations? ” Lemon asked.
“First of all, it’s not $500 billion in financial assistance, it’s a $200-to-$500 billion payment of a debt that is owed — that is what reparations is,” Williamson responded. “We need some deep truth-telling...we don’t need another commission to look at evidence.”
Williamson, who believes that the country needs to atone for its legacy of slavery, has made reparations one of the central issues of her presidential campaign. She addressed the issue at the NAACP national convention in Detroit last Tuesday, and her website includes an in-depth description of her stance.
“That great injustice has had to do with the fact that there was 250 years of slavery, followed by another 100 years of domestic terrorism,” Williamson said on the debate stage. “What makes me qualified to say $200 to $500 billion? I’ll tell you what makes me qualified. If you did the math of the ‘40 acres and a mule,’ given that there were 4 to 5 million slaves at the end of the Civil War — and they were all promised 40 acres and a mule for every family of four — if you did the math today, it would be trillions of dollars.” She added that any amount lower than $100 billion would be “an insult.”
“I believe that $200 to $500 billion is politically feasible today,” Williamson said, “because so many Americans realize there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface, an emotional turbulence that only reparations will heal.”
Williamson has run her campaign on the idea of healing the nation and casting out fear, rather than leading with concrete policy plans. She made this abundantly clear at Tuesday night's debate with her dig at some of the career politicians sharing the stage with her: “If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days,” Williamson said.
However, on reparations, it looks like Williamson has a, dare we say it, policy plan.