AREA PLEDGES TO:
1. Support reparations legislation
2. Support micro-reparations
3. Help close the housing gap in the Twin Cities
The inequities caused by the covenants may feel insurmountable, but we can create an equitable Minneapolis and United States through reparations.
For our work, we use the definition of reparations proposed by William Darity and Kirsten Mullen in From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century. They define reparations as “a program of acknowledgment, redress, and closure for a grievous injustice,” including slavery, legal segregation, and ongoing discrimination against Black people.
In this first step, Darity and Mullen write that the perpetrators or beneficiaries of the injustice should acknowledge how they have benefited from the injustice, offer an apology to African Americans for it, and commit themselves to the cause of redress.
AREA is addressing this step by renouncing the racial covenants that shape our city. Even though the covenants aren’t enforceable today, we acknowledge that Southwest Minneapolis residents still benefit from them in many ways, including higher property values, more access to greenspaces, better health outcomes, and greater opportunities for our kids.
While continuing to raise awareness of the covenants, we’ll focus on the Redress step of reparations. Darity and Mullen argue that this should take the form of restitution that leads to the “restoration of survivors to their condition before the injustice occurred or to a condition they might have attained had the injustice not taken place.”
This step is often written about as if it is controversial and unattainable. But guess what all of the following people have in common:
They have all expressed support for reparations!
Polls also consistently show that a clear majority of Black people in America support reparations for slavery and the injustices that followed.
Moreover, a variety of initiatives touted as reparations have gained traction across the country: Evanston, Illinois is committing $10 million in reparations over the next decade; California is establishing a statewide task force on reparations; the Minnesota Council of Churches has formed an ambitious 10-year reparations project; the Jesuit conference of priests has vowed to raise $100 million for reparations; and just across the Mississippi River, St. Paul is forming its own commission on reparations. Even Minneapolis is inching toward reparations with a truth and reconciliation working group.
So this is far more mainstream than many people may realize. But we still have plenty of work to do.
We’re asking neighbors to join us in pledging to:
Support city-, state-, and nationwide reparations proposals, such as H.R. 40, which would create a commission to study and make recommendations for national reparations. Locally, we want Minneapolis’s Truth & Reconciliation Working Group to become a full-fledged commission with a reparations plan. We’ll initiate actions to help achieve these goals.
Support micro-reparations: We know that legislation is an uphill battle, so we’ll also promote what are sometimes referred to as micro-reparations for individuals in Minneapolis’s BIPOC community. Micro-reparations might include paying for anything from an individual’s education to their water bill—whatever the recipient feels that they need.
Support Black homeownership: Since the covenants are tied to our homes, we will support organizations and initiate actions meant to help close one of the worst housing gaps between Black and white people in the country.
Darity and Mullen write that Closure involves a mutual reconciliation between African Americans and the people who have benefitted from the injustices against them. Racial inequality would be eliminated. The Black community, of course, would need to be the judge of whether that goal has been met.
That goal is at the end of a long road ahead. Closure will be incredibly difficult to achieve. But let’s work together. Please sign up here to receive updates on our initiatives and opportunities to participate in them.
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