The Atlantic

Reparations Are Not the Answer

The struggle against poverty needs to be a collective fight.

Juneteenth—the annual celebration of when enslaved people in Texas learned of their freedom—brought two hearings this year on Capitol Hill. The first was widely covered. The House Judiciary Committee looked at H.R. 40, a proposal to create a commission to study reparations for slavery and subsequent discrimination. Witnesses debated the utility and justice of pursuing financial reparations to right some of the wrongs that, past and present, have kept black people economically disadvantaged in the United States.

At the same time, the House Budget Committee held a hearing on poverty in America, which drew a fraction of the media coverage. In that hearing, the economic disadvantages facing African Americans were only part of the story—because less than one-quarter of Americans living in poverty are black.

Slavery, and the systemic racism that has disadvantaged

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