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The politics of Bloomberg’s new reparations plan

Practical Politics

David L. Horne, Ph.D OW Oped | 3/5/2020, midnight

In January 2020, presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg stood before an audience in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and laid out a carefully thought-out approach to the reparations movement, 2020.

Not calling it a reparations plan, reparations proposal or a reparations solution, Bloomberg made more sense in a few minutes than many who previously attempted have achieved in hours, weeks and months of attempts.

Bloomberg, who incidentally had his ‘Crossing the Rubicon’ moment on March 3rd, laid out what he called his Greenwood Initiative, named for the community in which he made his presentation. Greenwood, a community within Tulsa, Oklahoma, had been the most prosperous of all the Black cities and towns that sprang up in the aftermath of slavery and the promise of Reconstruction. There were numerous Black physicians, dentists, business owners, academics and other well-to-do Black folk living in the area, all of which was bombed, razed, torched and flattened in the infamous 1921 destruction by the jealous and larger white community nearby. Overnight, over 300 people were murdered, including women and children, the Oklahoma national guard dropped bombs on the neighborhood, and virtually every business and house was destroyed. Greenwood had been the most successful of all Black towns in the country.

Bloomberg recounted the history of the place, then declared that what was needed now was a bold initiative to re-start Black folk nationally back onto the pathway represented by old Greenwood. “For hundreds of years, said Bloomberg, “America systematically stole Black lives, Black freedom and Black labor. (There was) “Theft of labor and a transfer of wealth enshrined in law forced by violence. The impact of that theft over a period of centuries has meant an enormous loss of wealth from individuals and families across generations. (And) “It is time to do something about it. The challenge of African wealth creation today is inextricably linked to the racial inequalities of the past.”

Bloomberg sees increased Black homeownership as the primary way to get back onto the pathway of building generational wealth. Thus, his Greenwood Initiative calls for the creation of over one million new Black homeowners within the next 10 years, and the creation of over 100,000 Black businessowners. His plan includes investing over $70 billion dollars into repairing, rebuilding, and modernizing Black communities located within the most disadvantaged states of the U.S.A.

Bloomberg’s plan would have been boosted by his being POTUS, but the plan does not depend on that, since Bloomberg has access to multi-billions of his own. And of course, the ‘devil’s in the details’ so there’s much more to actually lay out. But one thing Bloomberg has captured is the essence of what a majority of respondents said on the Reparations Survey distributed by the Reparations United Front, the consistent thing Black folk want is a real chance to develop repeatable American success stories without the tranch of legal and insidious barriers being thrown at them. As James Brown famously said, “Just open up the door, and I’ll get it myself.”

Reparations, to those respondents, were not just about a check, they were about a more equal chance of success within what America represented. The Bloomberg Initiative hit that desire smack in the middle of the bullseye.

Let’s carefully watch how this particular drama unfolds. Let’s see whether Bloomberg is a man of his word. He already has a long track record of providing help to Black programs. Reparations is the biggest of them all.

Let’s see for real.

Will Bloomberg follow through with the plan, although he has dropped out of the race for president?

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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