Reparations owed to Black Americans: William Darity, Kirsten Mullen

To help close the racial wealth gap, the U.S. government should pay $14 trillion in reparations to Black Americans, according to William A. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen, authors of “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.”

In an interview with CNBC, Darity, a Duke University professor, and Mullen, a folklorist and writer, said the federal government is financially responsible because it was culpable for the enslavement of Black Americans and legal segregation in the United States. Mullen said “the federal government was party” to both the suppression of the Black vote and in some cases the destruction of Black people’s property.

She added that “the federal government is also the only entity that has the capacity to pay the debt.”

Darity and Mullen told CNBC that the cost of reparations would not need to be passed on to taxpayers.

“You don’t necessarily have to raise taxes to undertake these massive expenditure projects,” Darity said, citing the federal government’s $4.6 trillion Covid-19 spending as an example.

However, Darity warned that reparations could lead to inflation if not properly rolled out. To minimize inflation risk, Darity suggested, the payment should be spread out over a period of up to 10 years or the reparations should be provided in the form of assets rather than liquid cash.

“The key thing,” Darity said, “is that ultimately the discretion for the use of the funds must reside with the recipient.”

Watch the video to learn more about how reparations to Black Americans could help close the racial wealth gap.

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