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Councilors to study creation of a commission on reparations for Black Bostonians

The City Council today agreed to have a committee consider the idea of creating a Reparations Commission to come up with ways to pay Black Bostonians for centuries of slavery, discrimination and redlining.

"The solution to injustice is justice," said City Councilor Julia Mejia (at large), who formally proposed the commission with councilors Tania Fernandes Anderson (Roxbury) and Brian Worrell (Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale). She said that Boston continued to benefit from slavery long after the state outlawed it in 1780 and who noted ongoing inequities in the housing market have led to Black residents having far fewer assets than their White counterparts.

The proposed commission would study the history of harm to African-Americans in Boston, then recommend possible reparations for them.

Mejia noted the recent death of Bill Owens, who first championed the idea as a state senator. "We have an obligation to pick up where he left off," Mejia said.

City Councilor Michael Flaherty questioned whether Mejia was proposing paying would-be commission members up to $50,000 a year - and enrolling them in the city pension system. Mejia said the goal was to compensate commission members similarly to the way members of the police civilian review board are paid for their service, but added the specifics could be hashed out in committee meetings.

In addition to the three sponsors, councilors Liz Breadon (Allston/Brighton), Ruthzee Louijeune (at large), Kendra Lara (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Mission Hill), Ricardo Arroyo (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale) , Kenzie Bok (Back Bay, Mission Hill, Beacon Hill, Fenway) and Ed Flynn (South Boston, South End, Chinatown, downtown) signed on to support studying a possible commission.

The proposal now goes to the Council's committee on government operations for public hearings and creation of an ordinance for a council vote.



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The greatest impediment to the advancement of people of color is the horrid condition of public schools in Boston. How can you expect people to climb out of poverty when casellius and company are not educating them and juking graduation stats to cover it up. I’d rather have Ervin Burrell as the superintendent.

Voting closed 32

Thank you. Good schools and education help anyone who is hungry to learn and succeed.

Voting closed 6

Does Councilor Flaherty expect them to not be compensated for looking into reparations? Kinda on the nose man

Voting closed 13

Flaherty asked a valid question. It would be irresponsible to not ask the question. From the proposed ordinance:

Compensation. Each member will be paid one hundred dollars ($100.00) per hour for their service, not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) per year. Members of the Commission are hereby designated special municipal employees. Reimbursement for expenses associated with commission duties shall also be awarded to the extent allowed.

Voting closed 12

Company blockers are not letting me open the link but my angle is 50k isn't a lot in Boston, why is it an issue? You would still qualify for low income housing most places.

Voting closed 13

The ordinance funds 15 people (5 from specific organizations) $50k a year for potentially several years. That's millions of dollars. And for those commission members who are also current or retired public employees, that $50k can get multiplied for decades if it counts towards pension.

Also this isn't $50k for a full time job. It's $100/hour to scrape text from Wikipedia. I don't see Boston ever paying out reparations, which means this is a pork bill.

Voting closed 17

I don't see Boston ever paying out reparations

Why not? We should get a group of people together to figure out the answer to that.

Voting closed 10

I'll give this one to Refugee, it's $100 per hour, capped at $50,000 per year, or 500 billable hours, or 12 1/2 full time equivalent weeks.

Since it's an annual cap, let's assume the work is evenly spread out over 52 weeks, that's just under 10 hours per week of work. Not insignificant but not a full time job. This is definitely a supplemental job and not someone's primary employment.

Voting closed 9

Let’s get moving. This city has a rotten history of racist laws and policy that tip the economic and legal scales to favor whites, and that legacy is alive and well in the disparate wealth, education and health experienced by different communities in this city. I’m glad to see my councilor and all three of the at-large councilors I voted for pushing this.

Voting closed 23

It’s certainly a great way to turn even blue Massachusetts, the bluest of states, crimson.

Voting closed 20

…”if you sign the Civil Rights Act, you’ll lose white Southerners forever” energy.

The same argument, recycled ad infinitum.

The commission hasn’t even formed, let alone made any recommendations. And even if they do recommend repairations, which is not a forgone conclusion, we have no concept of what form repairations would take. The only objection seems to be that people believe only Black people might benefit while others (white people) won’t. It’s the poison of the “if you can’t bring enough bubble gum to class, then you can’t share with anyone” mentality. It’s the same “why didn’t Tom Brady thank ME PERSONALLY!?” mini-meltdown suffered by so many “Boston Strong” types when his retirement from The Buccaneers focused on the, you know, Buccaneers. Someone else got something, therefore I have been slighted.

So because some F-250 Super Duty “moderates” in Milford might get their skivies in a bunch over Boston city government initiative, the whole thing should be avoided? Is a Commission in Boston going radicalize some Lunenburg mom to go full MAGA?

Voting closed 17

It's the "your DIVISIVENESS in making EVERYTHING ABOUT RACE is COSTING YOU MY SUPPORT" when in reality the speaker was never gonna support you in the first place.

The hysterical defensiveness with which most white people react to the word "reparations" tells you pretty much all you need to know about them.

Voting closed 19

ongoing inequities in the housing market have led to Black residents having far fewer assets than their White counterparts.

This is the big one. People against reparations want to trot out that slavery was hundreds of years ago but there's people right now who suffered through redlining and school segregation and were actively kept from building wealth.

Voting closed 14