Six questions about slavery reparations, answered
Updated 7:11 AM ET, Sat August 15, 2020
(CNN)If you feel like you're hearing more about slavery reparations, it's not your imagination.
The widespread protests against police brutality and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd have brought a new urgency to the debate around compensating the descendants of American slaves.
This summer, Democratic lawmakers called for a vote on a bill to study reparations, and a handful of cities and states have weighed in with their own proposed plans to examine the issue.
But just how would reparations, focused specifically on slavery, work? Read on for background on this complex and thorny subject.
Why are reparations in the news?
The idea of giving Black people reparations for slavery dates back to right after the end of the Civil War (think 40 acres and a mule). For decades, it's mostly been an idea debated outside the mainstream of American political thought.
But writer Ta-Nehisi Coates reintroduced it to the mainstream with his 2014 piece in The Atlantic, "The Case for Reparations." Since then, the conversations surrounding reparations have intensified.
Last year it was a hot topic on the campaign trail, with Democratic presidential candidates voicing support for slavery reparations.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden told The Washington Post he supports studying how reparations could be part of larger efforts to address systemic racism. Biden's newly appointed running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, has co-sponsored a bill that would study the effects of slavery and create recommendations for reparations.
And in the midst of America's current racial reckoning, reparations are being explored on the local level, too.
In June, the California Assembly passed a bill to create a reparations task force, moving the legislation on to the state's senate. In July, the city of Asheville, North Carolina, voted unanimously to approve a reparations resolution for Black residents.
And that same month, the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, signed an executive order to pursue "truth, reconciliation and municipal reparations" for Black Americans, Indigenous people and people of color in the city.