Rep. Barbara Lee issued a resolution calling for the formation of a Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Commission on Monday.
The resolution will be officially introduced June 4, 2020. It has 28 co-sponsors and has been in the works for three years.
The commission will address the legacy of slavery and racism, discrimination, and the historical impact of laws and policies.
TRHT parallels South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was established in 1996 as a restorative justice tribunal post Apartheid.
The resolution was revealed in a press call that included Rep. Karen Bass, who heads the Congressional Black Caucus; Rep. Deb Haaland, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus; Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Rep.Adriano Espaillat, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Jim McGovern, Wade Henderson, former president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Dr. Gail Christopher, executive director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity and Former Rep. Tom Perriello, executive director of Open Society –U.S.
“The murder of George Floyd and the current COVID-19 crisis illustrate once again the painful and dangerous legacy that white supremacy has had in our country, and the desperate need to fully acknowledge and understand how our history of inequality continues today,” Lee said.
“This inequality is at the heart of every crisis we’re dealing with right now – – the crises of police brutality and mass incarceration, the COVID—19 public health crisis which is disproportionately affecting communities of color and the crisis of poverty excluding so many minority families from the American Dream.
“This is a matter of survival for countless Americans. Only by understanding our past, and confronting the errors that still haunt us today, can we truly move forward as a people and a country” said Lee said.
“I commend my colleague Congresswoman Barbara Lee for introducing this resolution to help this nation begin the process of healing, “ added Bass.
“The pain our country feels is rooted in generations of institutional racism,” Bass continued. “People of color are dying unjust deaths at the hands of power abusers. Whether it be the abuse of power that poisons the air and water surrounding communities of color, taking away protections for undocumented young people, underfunding Tribes putting them at a disproportionate risk during a pandemic, or police brutality that kills unarmed Black people, we must untangle the racist webs that are woven into our laws and policies on the books, so that we can take action,” said Haaland, who is a New Mexico representative.
“Our nation has witnessed a horrific week of events that has left communities mourning,” said Espaillat, a representative of New York. “After more than 400 years of oppression in America, Black men continue to be targeted, Latino families continue to be separated, and all persons of color, continue to be marginalized. More that 100,000 individuals have died during a pandemic that continues to wreak havoc on communities of color at far greater portions.
“It’s time for action and effort from each of us, together and united to ensure that the change we see happening around the country today is different. There has to be urgent resolve and healing because we cannot afford to go back to business as usual in the face of such challenges,” Espaillat concluded.
“The Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Resolution comes at a most timely moment, as our nation faces, yet again, the structural and brutal racism that affects communities of color, especially African Americans,” said Meng of New York.
“During this coronavirus pandemic, Asian Americans have been discriminated against and verbally and physically assaulted. When those attacks occurred, the African American community denounced those incidents and called for justice. Today, the Asian American community must stand in solidarity with them. Only together can we truly reconcile, heal, and transform our nation. I am proud to support this critical resolution, because our nation must come to grips with our ugly past—and present. We must acknowledge that our system is broken, and that we have to fix it. Ultimately, I want my children—all children—to grow up in a better world.”
“Justice and reconciliation must begin with serious self-reflection and an acknowledgment of the long and painful history of racism in America that has created the disparities we see today,” Rep. McGovern of Massachusetts. “For many of us, that means taking time to acknowledge how we have benefitted from systems of injustice and oppression and then working to uproot racism and discrimination whenever and wherever we see it in our lives. I am grateful to Representative Lee for introducing this legislation so we ca begin to heal our country by acknowledging our past. I look forward to working with her to advocate for this important bill.”
“Every day offers new examples of the tragic cost racism imposes on our country. I’ve learned, from transitional justice work overseas and my time in office in Virginia, that hate left unchecked only repeats and escalates” said former Rep. Tom Perriello.
Joe Biden vowed on Monday to address “institutional racism” in his first 100 days in office during a meeting with community leaders at Bethel AME church in Wilmington, Del.
Congresswoman Lee co-chairs the Steering Policy Committee, is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, is chair emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, and co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She is also chair of the of the Majority Leader Task Force of Poverty and Opportunity.