Connect with us

Commentary

Biden’s “Plan” to Address the Racial Wealth Gap Won’t Cut It. Only Reparations Can Do That

The plan included steps like establishing a federal effort to address inequality in home appraisals and using government authority to boost support for Black-owned businesses, including through business grants. 

Published

on

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris/ Featured Web

OPINION

On June 1, the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, President Joe Biden announced a plan to support Black homeownership and Black-owned businesses, which he said was aimed at closing the racial wealth gap between Black people and white people. The plan received praise from those who celebrated Biden’s apparent attempt to address the gap, which his administration has identified as a key policy goal.

The plan included steps like establishing a federal effort to address inequality in home appraisals and using government authority to boost support for Black-owned businesses, including through business grants. 

These are all great steps worth taking, but we shouldn’t pretend like they will do anything to meaningfully narrow the racial wealth gap. Only reparations can do that.

According to a recent New York Times piece by Duke University economist William Darity, the wealth gap between Black and white Americans ranges from somewhere between nearly $54,700 a person and $280,300 a person. 

Using the larger estimate, which Darity argues is more appropriate, the total racial wealth gap amounts to $11.2 trillion–“a figure that implies that incremental measures will not be sufficient” to close it, he wrote. 

Another 2016 study from the Institute for Policy Studies and the Corporation for Enterprise Development suggests that white households are worth nearly 20 times more than Black households on average, and that it would take 228 years for Black folks to catch up. That’s assuming white people’s collective wealth doesn’t increase at all during that time. 

And that was before our households and businesses took the devastating economic hit of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing discrimination in homeownership and supporting Black entrepreneurship are worthwhile policy endeavors. But we should be honest about what they represent in the grand scheme of things: At best, they are marginal steps in the right direction. And that’s not going to cut it. If we are serious about addressing the racial wealth gap, then we must get serious about reparations. There’s no way around it. The numbers speak for themselves.

If our elected officials aren’t prepared to go that route, fine — but we should stop letting them pretend like they are serious about the racial wealth gap. A gap created out of centuries of stolen labor, stolen land, and stolen wealth and resources can’t be addressed by a new housing policy or small business grant program.

During the 2020 campaign, then-candidate Biden said he supported H.R. 40, a bill that would commission a congressional study on reparations to determine what that could actually look like. The House passed the bill last year. Biden should push the Senate to pass it, too–and then sign it. 

And even that would only be the beginning.

Black History

Remembering the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

The “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” brought an unprecedented throng to the National Mall on Aug. 28, 1963. From every corner of the U.S., marchers came to demand fair wages, economic justice, an end to segregation, voting rights and long overdue civil rights. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his incomparable “I Have a Dream” speech on that day.

Published

on

March on Washington, August 1963
March on Washington, August 1963

By Gay Elizabeth Plair Cobb

Gay Plair Cobb

Gay Plair Cobb

Editor’s note: The “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” brought an unprecedented throng to the National Mall on Aug. 28, 1963. From every corner of the U.S., marchers came to demand fair wages, economic justice, an end to segregation, voting rights and long overdue civil rights. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his incomparable “I Have a Dream” speech on that day.  Below, Gay Plair Cobb shares her remembrance.

“Sleepy eyed, joining the early morning-chartered bus ride from New York City to Washington, DC … exhilarated, but not knowing what to expect in the late August heat

…. the yearning for justice, solidarity with others on the journey, the possibility of new legislation, and also the possibility of violence … We just did not know.

In the end, there were an amazing 250,000 of us, awed and inspired by Mahalia Jackson, John Lewis, Dorothy Height, James Farmer and, of course, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Dream that became our North Star is still our North Star 60 years later and into eternity. Grateful to have been a foot soldier then. Still grateful now.”

Poster for March on Washington.

Poster for March on Washington.

 

 

Continue Reading

Activism

Officer Fired for Shooting and Killing Sean Monterrosa Has Termination Overturned

Michael Rains, attorney for the Vallejo Police Officers’ Association, said that “several credible sources” have told him that Detective Jarrett Tonn’s termination has been overturned in arbitration. 

Published

on

A billboard near Vallejo Police Department with a sketch of Sean Monterrosa and a message “Justice for Sean Monterrosa” unveiled on Sept. 27, 2020, in Solano County, Calif. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News)
A billboard near Vallejo Police Department with a sketch of Sean Monterrosa and a message “Justice for Sean Monterrosa” unveiled on Sept. 27, 2020, in Solano County, Calif. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News)

By Katy St. Clair
Bay City News

The officer who was fired for shooting and killing a man during George Floyd protests in Vallejo in 2020 could be getting his job back after prevailing in arbitration.

Michael Rains, attorney for the Vallejo Police Officers’ Association, said that “several credible sources” have told him that Detective Jarrett Tonn’s termination has been overturned in arbitration.

Tonn was dismissed from the Vallejo force after he shot Sean Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco, outside of a Walgreens store on Redwood Street during the early morning hours of June 2, 2020.

The Vallejo Police Department has not commented on whether Tonn will return.

Tonn and two other officers were responding to alleged reports of looting at the store in an unmarked pickup truck. Body camera footage shows Tonn, who is seated in the backseat of the vehicle, stick an AR-15-style assault rifle in between the two officers and fire five times through the windshield at Monterrosa as the police vehicle approached the store.

Monterrosa died a short time later.

Vallejo police have alleged that Tonn fired at Monterrosa because he mistook a hammer in Monterrosa’s sweatshirt pocket for the butt of a gun.

The office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta in May 2021 opened an investigation into the shooting, but there have been no updates in that case and Bonta’s office will not comment on open cases.

Tonn was at first placed on administrative leave for the shooting death, but was fired in 2021 by then-Chief Shawny Williams, who determined that Monterrosa was on his knees with his hands raised when he was shot.

Rains, who has represented two other officers fired by Williams — and prevailed — said the reinstatement of Tonn was the right decision. Rains said Sunday that Tonn applied a reasonable and lawful use of force in the Monterrosa case, and that Williams was wrong to terminate him.

“This is just three for three now with Williams,” he said, referring to the now three officers that have gotten their jobs back. “It demonstrates what a colossal failure he was as a chief in every respect. I’m delighted for Tonn, it’s deserved.”

Rains did not represent Tonn in this case.

But others see Monterrosa’s shooting death as a dark stain on a department known for years of shootings by officers.

The law office of John Burris filed a civil rights suit against the city of Vallejo and its Police Department for Monterrosa’s death, citing alleged tampering with evidence and acting negligently by not reprimanding or re-training Tonn previously despite a “shocking history of shooting his gun at civilians.”

Burris’ office is no longer representing the case and the family is now represented by new counsel, John Coyle, with a jury trial scheduled for January 2025, according to court records.

Nevertheless, Burris commented Sunday on Tonn’s reinstatement, saying he was disappointed but not surprised at the move, because arbitrators in these cases are “biased” toward the police.

“Even though police may have committed in this case an outrageous act, it’s not surprising that that has happened, and it happens more times than not,” he said.

When asked if he was confident that Bonta would file charges against Tonn, Burris chuckled and said that he would wait and see.

“I would not hold my breath,” he said.

Tonn had previously shot three people over five years in Vallejo while on duty, none of which were found to have had firearms, a tenth of the 32 total shootings by the department in one decade, according to attorney Ben Nisenbaum.

Vallejo civil rights attorney Melissa Nold, who represents families of people killed by Vallejo police, said the decision to bring back Tonn had been in the works the minute he was terminated by Williams.

“Unfortunately, I am not surprised at this troubling turn of events because a whistleblower notified me last year via email that Tonn was working a deal to get his job back once they threatened and ran off Chief Williams,” Nold said.

Williams resigned abruptly last November. Williams was repeatedly criticized by the Vallejo Police Officers’ Association, the offices’ union, which had previously voted “no confidence” in him and blamed him for everything from attrition to high crime in the city. But advocates for the families of those killed by police said Williams had been making progress in cleaning up a department that had gained international attention for being violent. During Williams’ tenure, there were no police shootings after the Monterrosa death.

Nold places part of the blame on Tonn’s return on the city, which she said “made no effort” to support his termination. Nold said they are still expecting Bonta to file criminal charges against Tonn and there will be a push to get him decertified as an officer as well.

“He cannot ever go back out onto the streets of Vallejo,” she said. “The liability he would create by being here is astronomical, but sadly no one in the city attorney’s office is smart enough to understand and/or are too corrupt and rotten to care.”

In May, a Solano County judge found that the Vallejo City Attorney’s Office broke the law by deliberately destroying evidence in cases related to police shootings.

The city of Vallejo did not respond to a request for comment.

Members of the family of Monterrosa and their advocates are planning on showing up to the Vallejo City Council meeting on Sept. 12 to protest the return of Tonn, Nold said.

The family will also be holding a “Justice 4 Sean Monterrosa” press conference on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Vallejo City Hall, 555 Santa Clara St., Vallejo.

Continue Reading

Activism

Oakland Post: Week of September 20 – 26, 2023

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of September 20 – 26, 2023

Published

on

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of September 20 -26, 2023

To enlarge your view of this issue, use the slider, magnifying glass icon or full page icon in the lower right corner of the browser window.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending