In accordance with a bill that will be voted on by the state legislature on Thursday, New York would establish a commission to consider reparations to address the negative, lingering effects of slavery.
State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages stated, “We Want To Make Sure We Are Looking At Slavery And Its Legacies,” prior to the floor debate.
“This is about starting the healing process for our communities.
People are still suffering from generational trauma.
This is only a preliminary step. New York Is Following California’s Example, Which Became The First State To Create A Task Force For Reparations In 2020.
That group recommended the establishment of an agency to provide a wide range of services, as well as a formal apology from the state on its history of racism and discriminatory policies.
The New York law would establish a nine-member commission to investigate the degree to which both the federal and state governments supported slavery.
Additionally, it would address the ongoing disparities in the state’s economy, politics, and education that black people face today.
The New York Bill claims that the first slaves from Africa arrived in the 1620s at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, which was then a Dutch settlement, and contributed to the infrastructure-building of New York City.
While a law granting freedom to enslaved Africans in New York was passed by the state legislature in 1817, it wasn’t put into effect for another 10 years.
Each of the legislative leaders and the governor would choose three qualified individuals to serve on the commission.
One year after their initial meeting, the commission would be required to provide a report.
The Legislature would not be required to put its recommendations to a vote since they would not be binding.
“I’m Concerned We’re Opening A Door That Was Closed In New York State Almost 200 Years Ago,” said Republican State Assemblymember Andy Gooddell during floor debates on the bill on Thursday.
He stated that he supports current initiatives to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed and that he would like to “continue on that path rather than focus on reparations.”
Days before the legislative session is scheduled to end, the State Senate is anticipated to debate the bill.
In its report, the Reparations Task Force stated that the state is thought to be in charge in California.
New Jersey’s and Vermont’s state legislatures are two others that have thought of researching reparations.
In 2021, a $10 million housing project in Evanston, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, became the first city to offer reparations to black residents.
On the federal level, Congress has stalled a long-standing proposal to establish a commission to study reparations.
Reparations by states have some detractors who believe that while the concept is noble, it may be misguided.
Even calling them reparations is “presumptuous,” according to William Darity, professor of public policy and African and African American studies at Duke University, because it’s almost impossible for states to meet the hefty payouts that go along with them.
The first black person to serve as New York Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, referred to the legislation as “historic.” Solages stated,
“The Commission Would Be Charged With Examining New York’s History And Seeking Where We Can Build A Bridge To Healing.” Those disparities “won’t just go away by themselves.”