It’s one of the 2020 election’s most-debated topics: Reparations for slavery. To call the discussion long overdue is a tragic understatement. After all, this August marked 400 years since slavery began in the United States, when the first slave ship docked in Virginia.
How does a country begin to make amends for four centuries of oppression cast upon the descendants of Black slaves?
After almost 250 years, slavery was offically outlawed in the US in 1865 via the Emancipation Proclamation. What followed was 100 years of Jim Crow segregation and a still-insidious culture of widespread, systemic racism — resulting in a significant wealth gap between Black and white Americans, redlined neighborhoods, segregated schools, pay inequity, police brutality, mass incarceration and more. A 2016 Federal Reserve report determined that the median net worth a white family was ten times greater than that of a Black family.
Finally, this past June, Congress held its first-ever congressional hearing to discuss a landmark bill addressing reparations in pragmatic, actionable ways.
To this day, African-Americans have never received a national apology for slavery and the pervasive damage its devastating legacy continues to inflict.
Watch Refinery29’s Truth Told episode about reparations for slavery, and why it’s still up for debate.