A suburb in Chicago has taken the first steps towards an initiative that will see some of its residents receive reparation payments. The city of Evanston, Illinois passed a measure on Monday that will seed $10 million over 10 years to Black families that have been affected by racist policies, housing discrimination, and other hardships caused as a result of slavery. The measure specifically mentions the time period between 1919 and 1969. There will be an initial funding round of $400,000 that will reward up to $25,000 to qualified families.
The program is being hailed by many as “a step in the right direction,” which it definitely is, but it is deservedly being met with some criticism as well. For starters, the money is essentially a housing program only, meaning it can only be used towards paying principal mortgage payments, as a down payment on a property in Evanston, or paying late fees or interest on property in Evanston. Again, the money will be helpful indeed, it doesn’t help that people are being told how they can use it.
Then comes the issue of how the money for the program is being collected. As of writing, the program will be funded largely by donations, and sales tax from marijuana sales. This is particularly problematic because even though marijuana is being legalized by more cities and states, Black and Brown men are still being arrested and charged with low-level possession. While most of these charges are eventually dismissed, most of those arrested were still subjected to an overnight stay in jail.
Be that as it may, a step forward is a step forward, and this could be the start of something great. The Black community has long propositioned for something like this to happen, and hopefully, it will, on a larger scale. It’s long overdue and necessary, hopefully, the next program actually allows the recipients to choose how they want to be made whole.