Molly Prince on January 22, 2019
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated on Monday that the United States should pay reparations to the non-white communities who were negatively impacted by America’s New Deal.
“I think the first thing that we need to do is realize that there’s a balance between this more universal struggle for racial, social and economic dignity, but at the same time, not erasing the individual stories of different communities,” Ocasio-Cortez responded when asked how government can create a just outcome among its citizens.
“You and I are in the same struggle. That does not give me a pass to not talk or acknowledge the black experience and that does not give you a pass to not acknowledge or talk about the plight of Puerto Ricans and people overall,” Ocasio-Cortez told interviewer Ta-Nehisi Coates. “It is in that exchange, and to say ‘you are distinct and you come from a distinct community that is valued and uplifted’ and vice versa.”
The self-proclaimed Democratic socialist contended that while people tend to associate reparations with slavery, instead, they should be associated with the effects of The New Deal, which, she argues, disproportionately impacted non-white communities.
The New Deal was a series of public works projects, financial reforms and government programs that were enacted in the 1930s by Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a response to the Great Depression.
“People think reparations is reparations for slavery, but really, economically speaking, reparations are for the damage done by the New Deal and redlining because that is where we saw a compounding of the existing inequity from the legacy of slavery, where we drew red lines around black communities,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We said white communities will get home loans and they will get access to the basic bedrock of wealth in America and this will be your heirloom and we gave white America the heirloom that appreciated overtime, that people still benefit from today and we did not give to African-American and Mexican communities, Puerto Rican communities.”
The New York congresswoman also compared the treatment of non-white communities in America’s past to the Holocaust, urging the United States to follow Germany’s example by paying reparations and acknowledge the suffering that occurred during Nazi occupation in order to move forward.
“It’s important to tell the story of where we’ve been and what others are doing as well because we look at, for example, Germany, and how they’ve been able or they’re attempt to try to heal after the Holocaust,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Germany paid reparations and they went through that process and they had that truth-telling process. And until America tells the truth about itself, we’re not going to heal.”
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