Community Driven Reparations

Reparations are defined as the making of amends for a wrong that one has done by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged and are given the horrifically oppressed groups of people by their oppressive nations, states, institutions, and or complicit corporations. In layman's terms, reparations are when the government tries to make up for the wrongs of the past to make it better in the present. In this case, we seek holistic reparations for Black people here in Chicago because of the impact of slavery, Jim Crow, anti-Blackness, and mass incarceration.

BlackRoots Alliance is working to hold lawmakers in Illinois accountable to Black folks. How we win this is through strength in numbers. We’re having community conversations all over the city to make sure Chicago becomes the next place to offer reparations to all Black people. We’re also going block by block to speak with Black Chicagoans at their doorstep about reparations and what that looks like for them. 

Our goal is to take all of this feedback from our community canvassing and conversations and then turn that into policy language. We want to create a petition that folks can sign, we can get placed on the local ballot, and Black folks can vote for! Our reparations policy will reflect what community members want because they provide the foundation for it.

Black folks are winning reparations right in our backyard. Cities like Evanston are making sure that some Black people get reparations for legacies of slavery and anti-Blackness. Even in Chicago, survivors of police torture were also awarded reparations. In California, a reparations task force spent two years conducting research to release a report of recommendations to Black residents for the harm caused by slavery. Those findings were handed over to elected officials and a ballot initiative was born. The strategy used in California to get reparations on the ballot can work in Chicago if all Black folks work together and force the issue because we deserve reparations too.

Engaging with other dedicated Black folks is crucial, if we plan to ever make reparations a reality in our generation. BlackRoots Alliance wants to make sure all Black Chicagoans are a part of the conversation about what reparations can look like for us. Ask yourself these two questions and let us know what you have to say.

  1. Do you think Black folks deserve reparations?
  2. Who do you think is responsible for the payment of reparations to Black folks?

We look forward to hearing from you at our next community conversation on December 6th or by contacting our Network Organizer, Matthew Swalek.

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