President Joe Biden’s administration is lending support to a study of reparations for African-Americans, with the effort part of new Democratic legislation to create a commission on the controversial issue.  

The Associated press reported on Wednesday that a House panel heard testimony on a bill to create the commission that would examine the history of slavery in the U.S. and offer solutions, like reparations.

According to Reuters, Biden stated last year that “we must acknowledge that there can be no realization of the American dream without grappling with the original sin of slavery, and the centuries-long campaign of violence, fear, and trauma wrought upon Black people in this country.”

Reparations proposals have appeared in Congress for decades.

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Still A Divisive Issue

Recent polls have shown that a supermajority of Americans are opposed to reparations.

Last summer, in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a Reuters/Ipsos poll that show that only 20% of Americans supported reparations. 

The result was split along party and racial lines. Eighty percent of Republicans said they were opposed, but one third of Democrats said they supported the idea.

Ten percent of whites polled said they supported reparations, while 50% of blacks polled were in favor.

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Biden Has A Spotty Record On Racial Comments

Joe Biden ultimately won the Democratic presidential nomination with strong support from black southerners, and can thank Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), who rallied a large portion of the black vote in South Carolina for Biden.  

At a town hall earlier this week, Biden stated, as he has in the past, that racial issues were a key reason why he got involved in politics.

“I got involved in politics to begin with because of civil rights and opposition to white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan. And the most dangerous people in America continue to exist. That is the greatest threat to terror in America: domestic terror,” Biden said.

But Joe Biden’s track record on race relations is scattered with dubious words and actions.

In 1977, then Senator Biden was participating in a Senate hearing on busing policies.

In the hearing, he stated, “unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions having built so high that it is going to explode at some point.”

In 2007, Biden described Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

In 2010, Biden paid homage to his friend, Sen. Robert Byrd at his funeral. Prior to being a Senator, Byrd had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and once a member of the Senate, he filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act for over 14 hours.

Fast forward, and it doesn’t get much better.

In 2012, Vice-Presidential Candidate Joe Biden told an audience of black voters that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s approach to financial regulations would “put y’all back in chains.”

More recently, in a radio interview in May of 2020, Biden told Charlamagne tha God, “Well, I’ll tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you are for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

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What Does Reparations Even Mean?

When most people hear the word “reparations,” they think of financial compensation. During the last election cycle, as Democrat presidential candidates began to campaign, the subject of reparations appeared once again.

The first order of business was to come up with a definition of what reparations meant. Everyone had a different opinion.

In a 2019 article in The Atlantic, writers weighed in on the issue.

Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough-Lunaape Nation said, “Perhaps the most important thing that reparations can do is present history and knowledge as it really occurred, not as a paradigm to abuse and manipulate. I think, it has to start with the integrity of true history.”

Columnist Noah Miller said his definition was, “an attempt to reconcile with the past between communities where one has suffered at the hands of the other,” he said. “Whether that is in the form of monetary or whatever, it is an intra-communal agreement, effectively, that what we are doing now is settling a long-standing grievance.” 

L. Joy Williams, president of the Brooklyn chapter of the NAACP, said that there should be “truth telling” about American history.

“We’re still uncovering stories and places of what harm was done, and that is part of reparations,” she said. “Following that is how do we repair … How do we repay?” That need not always take the form of a check.”

She added that there should be a “commitment to never repeat the injustice again.”

If there is no clear definition of reparations, how can we dole them out, and in what form?

During a Wednesday afternoon press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said of President Biden’s support of the study of reparations, “He understands we don’t need a study to take action right now on systemic racism, so he wants to take actions within his own government in the meantime.”

The response from Breitbart News seem to sum up the priorities of the Biden administration.