The New York State Assembly passed a bill this week that would create a commission to consider slavery reparations, The Associated Press reported.
The bill, initially introduced in January, was passed after a three-hour debate in the Democrat-controlled State Assembly on Thursday. The state Senate passed the bill hours later, and is now being sent to Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desk, who has yet to comment on the proposed legislation.
If signed, the New York legislation would create a nine-member commission to examine how complicit federal and state governments were in slavery. The commission would also address “racial and economic discrimination against people of African descent, and the impact of these forces on living people of African descent and to make determinations regarding compensation,” according to the bill.
“We want to make sure we are looking at slavery and its legacies. This is the process of healing our communities,” said Democrat state legislator Michaelle Solages before the floor debate on the bill, according to the AP. “There is still generational trauma that people are experiencing. This is just one step forward.”
Republican state legislator Andy Gooddell is far more skeptical: “I’m concerned we’re opening a door that was closed in New York State almost 200 years ago,” he said during floor debates. Goodell, among other Republicans, voted against the bill, and said he supports efforts to create equal opportunity but wants to “continue on that path rather than focus on reparations,” the AP reported.
New York is following in the footsteps of California, which was the first state to establish a reparations commission in 2020. That commission recommended a “formal apology” and concluded that California was responsible for $500 billion in debt to black Americans, which is $200 billion higher than the state’s yearly budget. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declined to endorse cash payment reparations – which could reach $1.2 million per person – and told Fox News that dealing with the legacy of slavery “is about much more than cash payments.”
The latest data from Pew Research Center shows that only 30% of Americans support monetary reparations.
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