DETROIT (WXYZ) — This push for reparations is in the early stages, but those behind it say it's long overdue and it begins with acknowledging the damage.
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"People who have a problem with reparations ... let's have a conversation. Let me find out what your problem is, and I guarantee you ... as we leave that conversation, you'll have a different thought about reparations," said attorney Todd Perkins.
Perkins has joined the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus, a grassroots organization, in their push for reparations for Black Detroiters. By definition, reparations is the making of amends for a wrong by paying money or somehow helping those who have been wronged.
"I know one thing, that it's not a handout, you know, it is a hand up. It is something that Black Detroit is owed ... we're going to start to study and research what are other cities doing, what fits best in Detroit, but I think it's about creating economic upward mobility for Detroiters, generational wealth, home ownership, things that, you know, historically we've been left out of," said Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield.
Sheffield put forth a Reparations Resolution she says acknowledges that African Americans have been systematically oppressed and harmed through slavery, segregation, policing, incarceration and voter suppression.
"There's a lot of needs, a lot of issues. There was a lot of discriminatory policies that left out so many Detroiters ... as it relates to creating generational wealth for their families. And so we want to explore, we want to research, we want to study the issue of reparations," she said.
And any reparations wouldn't necessarily be in the form of a monthly payment to qualifying Black Detroiters. But Perkins said the money could come from Detroit's marijuana tax.
"One, they're new funds ... I know so many African Americans who went to prison because of involvement in marijuana ... and it's an activity that today is now legal," said Perkins.
The Chicago suburb of Evanston is the first in the country to create a reparations program for its Black residents in the form of a $25,000 home improvement credit for those who suffered from discriminatory housing policies.
Todd Perkins has presented the city with almost 4,000 signatures to get a proposal on the ballot that would change the charter to allow a group Detroiters to decide on the appropriation of money.
"If this is a democracy, then allow democracy to take place and let the people speak about at least how they spend their money," he said.
This Friday, those behind this push for reparations in Detroit will hold a press conference to begin engaging the community for their input.