The Wall Street Journal reported this week that a Chicago suburb recently became the first city in the country to start paying reparations payments to black citizens for discrimination and restricted housing options.
By the end of this year, the city of Evanston, Illinois, would provide $25,000 to about 140 residents, according to the source.
The city of around 75,000 people adopted a $10 million reparations package in 2019 that would be paid out over a ten-year period. According to the Evanston Round Table, the city was already paying out compensation to sixteen eligible residents.
To be eligible for the benefits, a person had to have reached the age of 18 and have lived in the city between 1919 and 1969.
Reparations, which are meant to come from marijuana along with real estate transfer taxes, are being offered by the city in the form of cash or vouchers.
The Evanston Round Table did point out that once the city’s second dispensary’s opening was postponed, marijuana sales tax income decreased. The opening of a second store in September will aid in funding the reparations program.
City officials estimate that Evanston’s graduated property transfer tax will contribute to the overall program’s funding. Tasheik Kerr, the city manager’s assistant in Evanston, reported that money has already been raised totaling $1,188,000 to pay for restitution payments.
The Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center director at Howard University, Justin Hansford, described the city’s reparations program as “a trial run for the entire country.”
Some people are still dissatisfied with the payouts, despite the fact that the city was the first in the nation to disperse money.
Bennett Johnson, an area resident and civil rights activist, claimed that the city’s cutoff year of 1969 was “totally arbitrary” notwithstanding the passage of a fair-housing statute at that time.
According to the Evanston Round Table, Johnson said that black people continue to be “hurt” and subjected to “discrimination.” He said that the payments were insufficient.
Johnson said, “I think Evanston is lowering the capacity of Black people to achieve things for themselves, just as we’ve been doing in the past. We could see that, if we don’t give Black people control of things, we are only repeating our previous behavior.”
Ramona Burton, one of the people who received compensation, on the other hand, said that she thought the payment was “a good start.”
She said, “It’s far better than a blank.”