The fight for reparations has been heating up in statehouses and city halls nationwide. And now, Representative Cori Bush (D-Mo.) wants to bring that fight to Congress. The Missouri Congresswoman is introducing the Reparations Now Resolution, urging Congress to provide at least $14 trillion in reparations to descendants of enslaved Africans.
“We need to push this right now,” Rep. Bush told The Root. “It’s 2023, and the U.S. federal government still has not acknowledged the atrocities that came at the hands of this government.”
Bush’s resolution estimates that this nation owes roughly $14 trillion in debt to African Americans. “Our bill breaks down the value of cotton produced by enslaved Africans...the economic advancement of the United States through cotton,” Bush said. “And how there has never been any repayment for the harm done to those enslaved.”
However, according to Bush, this isn’t just about slavery. It’s also about the government-sanctioned harms that ensued, such as mass incarceration and lynchings. “What we’re talking about is freedom and equity and calling on this country to acknowledge the harm that it has inflicted,” she said.
The Congresswoman and her partners have been working on the plan, which includes calls for direct cash payments and investments in sectors like housing and education, for years. As Bush puts it, white supremacy has been woven through every thread of our government since its inception. Therefore stamping it out is going to take widespread and continued investments.
It’s unlikely that we will see a Republican-led House support a resolution for reparations. Still, Bush says it’s essential to get these arguments into the congressional record anyway, especially in light of attacks on the very concept of teaching about the history of slavery or racism in this county.
“We have to get the conversation going,” Bush said. “We have to speak to all of the horrifying things that went down.”