HR40 Would Form Commission to Study African American Reparations
Today the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing on the reintroduction of HR 40 — Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.
HR 40 has been introduced in Congress every year since 1989, the year after Japanese American redress passed in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. It is long past time that this legislation passed Congress and be implemented to begin the path towards restorative racial justice.
More than 30 years ago, redress was achieved for the wrongful forced removal and incarceration during WWII of nearly 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. This egregious abrogation of civil rights was carried out by our government, ignorant to the citizenship and because of the racial and ethnic background of the victims. It took more than 40 years for our government to take full responsibility and offer a full apology and economic reparations to incarcerees.
We are now over 155 years past the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery and over 50 years past the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, and Fair Housing Act, which ended many of the Jim Crow laws that extended the power of White supremacy beyond the end of the Civil War. The legacy of these laws continues today.
Just as the CWRIC enabled Japanese Americans to tell our stories of the impact of incarceration, the HR 40 commission would provide members of the Black community to share the impact of the institution and the legacy of slavery.
This week more than 300 testimonies from the Japanese American community are being submitted to the Congressional Record in support of HR 40. JACL and several other Japanese American organizations have signed onto the “Why We Can’t Wait” letter in support of HR 40. Japanese Americans fully understand the power of redress and reparations in our community and cannot silently stand by as our government denies the same overdue apology and reparations to the Black community.
Just as our government took responsibility for the World War II incarceration of those of Japanese ancestry, it is time for our nation to take responsibility for the institution and ongoing legacy of slavery.