by H, 11th
Dear Representative Lee,
I attend Met West High School as a junior in Oakland. Am writing to you because you represent me in Congress and are a champion of civil rights. I have been studying slavery and reparations, and I have concluded that reparations are long overdue. I have read what you think about reparations and I agree that the Congress needs to pass H.R. 40. I really appreciate your support of H.R. 40, but passing H.R. 40 is only a start. As a person in your district, I hope my ideas for reparations, set forth below, will be considered in future attempts to provide reparations.
As you know, reparations are necessary because beginning in 1619 slaves were brought from Africa in slave ships to Virginia. Slavery quickly spread, especially in the South. Black people were enslaved, beaten, tortured, and killed by their masters, as people in the South as well as the North benefited economically from their labor. This horrible treatment of African Americans lasted until 1865, when the 13th Amendment freed all men after the Civil War. Even after the 13th Amendment was passed, white terrorists used violence against Africa Americans to stop them from voting, holding office, and pursuing a meaningful education. Plessy vs. Ferguson guaranteed segregation in the United States for all public accommodations and areas. Even after Brown vs Board of Education, racist housing policies disadvantaged black people through the use of contract selling and redlining. These racist policies created the wealth gap we have today between blacks and whites.
The reason I chose to write to you now is because of the recent hearing about reparations in Congress. I have read many articles proposing plans that inspired me to write to you. All of these articles were written because there have been no reparations for the harm slavery has done to African Americans. We can't just move on and be blind to the fact that black human beings were tortured and their lives essentially taken from them.
Senator Mitch McConnell has declared that reparations are not owed because no one alive today took any action to promote slavery and its legacy. He missed the point because the responsibility to eliminate the legacy of slavery should not be determined by the claim that no individual living today participated in the horrors of slavery. We as a nation, governed by a central government in Washington, are responsible to remedy the legacy of slavery. We can’t let the federal government off the hook for its actions in tolerating slavery and Jim Crow, and later for its inaction in failing to recognize and remedy the legacy of slavery. Until the Civil War, the government was the central entity that allowed African Americans to be enslaved. It also didn't stop white terror when it could have after the end of Reconstruction, a period during which racism continued to destroy black families. All of this, as I stated, played a big role in the wealth gap we have today in the United States.
I have some concrete ideas for reparations. These involve monetary allotments to be granted by Congress, and I hope they draw your support.
Award three billion dollars in cash reparations to African Americans who are descendants of slaves. That money will help close the wealth gap we have today by providing funds for better housing black people. That money will also help African Americans start businesses, which will provide better jobs for blacks.
Award 100 million dollars for public schools and education. That money will be used to build better schools in black neighborhoods. It will also be used to help send black kids to college in order to create a better future for themselves. Funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities should also be increases by ten percent.
Award one billion dollars for retirement and home care for all black people who are descendants of slaves. This money will be used to give elder black people the opportunity to retire and enjoy the rest of their lives with home care.
In total the reparations money is about three billion, 100 million dollars, not counting grants to HBCUs, to be used exclusively to repair the harm America has done to African Americans as a result of slavery.
I am aware that my proposals may appear costly, but keep in mind the U.S. has already spent two trillion dollars in Afghanistan alone, and it seems the fighting is not over. We as a country can certainly spend the modest amount I propose to eliminate the legacy of slavery.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I would love to hear what you think of my reparation ideas.
Oakland Youth 6th-12th