Posts tagged History
How the Movement for Reparations Can Inform the Movement for Housing Justice

Part 1 of this post, “What is Reparations?,” illustrates the amplified discussion around reparations today as a part of a historic movement of grassroots political organizing for Black liberation. The visions of these movements involved the creation and strengthening of Black political and economic institutions to provide the foundation for a new society not predicated on the exploitation and theft of Black labor and resources. Closely related to the reparations movement, the movement for housing and land justice is steadily gaining momentum across the United States. Because housing policy and markets are one of the key avenues through which white people have accumulated (and continue to accumulate) wealth, it is crucial that movements for housing justice emphasize how our economy, namely the housing and real estate market, is structured by racism. In this section I will explore how the reparations movement can inform anti-racist organizing for housing justice and our understanding of the nationwide affordable housing crisis. 

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What Is Reparations?

In June, Congress held a hearing about reparations, amidst a record-breaking number of Democratic presidential candidates on the campaign trail expressing support for a reparations bill. The current bill in Congress, “H.R. 40,” would establish a commission to study and consider a proposal for reparations for slavery and later forms of Black oppression, such as Jim Crow and mass incarceration. Though Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has spearheaded the legislative initiative this year, the bill was first introduced in Congress thirty years ago by Michigan Rep. John Conyers. And the idea of reparations for Black America is far from new; in fact, it goes back centuries, since before the legal end of slavery when individual slaves petitioned for, and in some cases were granted, restitution for their stolen labor. Reparations can also refer to other historical debts and injustices such as Western imperialism or the internment of Japanese Americans. However, here I will focus on reparations for Black America.

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Fulton County Eviction Crisis

Fulton County has one of the highest eviction rates in the country, with approximately 800 tenants receiving an eviction notice every week, one in five over the course of a year, or 109 every day. In the 30291, 30337 and 30331 zip codes, which include Union City, College Park, and areas just west of Atlanta, eviction rates have gone above 40 percent.

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