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Obama Calls Reparations for Black Americans ‘Justified’

If it weren’t for all those white Americans who would have disagreed, former President Barack Obama would have pushed for the reparations black Americans deserve — or so the former president said this week.

The subject of reparations has flared anew with the introduction of a bill in the Democrat-controlled House to create a commission to study how reparations should be implemented.

Obama said that because slaves helped build America, the nation owes something to today’s black Americans.

“So, if you ask me theoretically: ‘Are reparations justified?’ The answer is yes,” he said on his podcast “Renegades: Born in the USA” with Bruce Springsteen.

“There’s not much question that the wealth of this country, the power of this country was built in significant part — not exclusively, maybe not even the majority of it — but a large portion of it was built on the backs of slaves,” he said.

But Obama indicated that he felt powerless to move on the issue during his eight years in the White House because of the attitudes of white Americans.

“What I saw during my presidency was the politics of white resistance and resentment, the talk of welfare queens and the talk of the undeserving poor and the backlash against affirmative action,” he said.

“All that made the prospect of actually proposing any kind of coherent, meaningful reparations program struck me as, politically, not only a non-starter but potentially counterproductive,” he said.

Many said Obama was off base.

During a 2008 CNN interview, Obama offered different thoughts on reparations while seeking the presidency.

“[T]he best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed.

“And, you know, I think that strategies that invest in lifting people out of the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, but that have broad applicability and allow us to build coalitions to actually get these things done, that, I think, is the best strategy,” he said then.

A 2019 report in The Washington Post reprised comments Obama made while campaigning in 2008.

“I fear that reparations would be an excuse for some to say ‘we’ve paid our debt’ and to avoid the much harder work of enforcing our anti-discrimination laws in employment and housing; the much harder work of making sure that our schools are not separate and unequal; the much harder work of providing job training programs and rehabilitating young men coming out of prison every year; and the much harder work of lifting 37 million Americans of all races out of poverty,” he said at the time.

“These challenges will not go away with reparations. So while I applaud and agree with the underlying sentiment of recognizing the continued legacy of slavery, I would prefer to focus on the issues that will directly address these problems — and building a consensus to do just that,” he said.

Story cited here.

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