New York state lawmakers latest to jump on the reparations band wagon

Yet another state has jumped on the reparations bandwagon: New York.

Members of the New York State Legislature plan to pass a bill by week’s end that would create a reparations commission to study the issue, according to Politico.

“New York has an accounting it must do. If we are ever to be the America for everybody, then we have to come to grips with America’s original sin, slavery,” Michaelle Solages, the bill’s Assembly sponsor, told the outlet.

“Reparations is more than just about compensation. I think New York is in a unique spot to really define the conversation around reparations and make sure that it’s not just about compensation, but really about acknowledgment and reconciliation of chattel slavery and its legacies,” she added in a statement to the New York Post.

Were the bill to make it through the legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York would become the second major state to study the issue.

Three years ago, California launched its own task force, despite slavery never having even been legal in the far-left state. Speaking recently to Fox News, a member of California State’s own reparations task force argued that the state is still liable, even if it didn’t directly participate in the slave trade.

“Unfortunately, that evil group called the Ku Klux Klan in California was founded here in San Francisco. So San Francisco’s hands are not clean. They have been complicit in this evil system, and all we’re saying is let’s just chill and pay your debt, your sin bill of enslavement, of discrimination, of intimidation, of terrorizing of black people,” Dr. Amos Brown of the Third Baptist Church said.

Things are a bit different in New York.

“Slavery remained legal in New York until 1827. And even after that, it remained closely tied to the institution when it continued to exist in southern states,” Politico notes.

And so the state is fully liable.

“There’s a real question of whether slavery would have been economically feasible without New York. New York provided the insurance for the slave industry; New York paid for many of the votes; New York bought much of the cotton,” Sen. James Sanders, the Senate sponsor of the bill, said to Politico.

The New York reparations committee, if launched, would also reportedly examine “the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery and discrimination on living people of African descent.”

“Throughout history, here in New York and across the country, African Americans have been subjected to racial, economic and institutional injustices that have plagued communities for decades,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement.

Heastie, who happens to be the first black speaker of the New York State Assembly, added that the bill is a “historic piece of legislation.”

Other topics that will reportedly also be examined by the commission include mass incarceration and alleged housing discrimination.

“If you think about all the black communities that were displaced, like Seneca Village, which is the modern Central Park, or Lincoln Center, or Timbuctoo in the Adirondacks, many of these Black communities were destroyed, and we’ve never atoned for that,” Solages said to Politico.

Seneca Village was a predominantly black New York City neighborhood that was replaced by Central Park in the 1850s.

“Before Central Park was created, the landscape along what is now the Park’s perimeter from West 82nd to West 89th Street was the site of Seneca Village, a community of predominantly African-Americans, many of whom owned property,” according to the Central Park Conservancy.

“By 1855, the village consisted of approximately 225 residents, made up of roughly two-thirds African-Americans, one-third Irish immigrants, and a small number of individuals of German descent. One of few African-American enclaves at the time, Seneca Village allowed residents to live away from the more built-up sections of downtown Manhattan and escape the unhealthy conditions and racial discrimination they faced there.”

In the 1850s, the city used eminent domain to commandeer the properties in Seneca Village and replace the land with Central Park.

Dovetailing back to the present, the New York State reparations commission panel would recommend “appropriate remedies and reparations,” including potential “laws, policies, programs,” in a report to be presented to the state legislature.

“Its recommendations would not be binding and would eventually need to be approved by the Legislature in a future year. But they could certainly force a conversation about the subject,” according to Politico.

“Reparations is not just about a paycheck, it’s much more than that. It’s atoning, it’s talking about what we can do to support and uplift Black New Yorkers throughout this great state,” Solages said.


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