Support Reparations for Black Americans by Amanda Shannahan

As a Japanese American, I am familiar with the concept of reparations. After my grandmother passed, I inherited the framed letter of apology acknowledging the injustices done to her and 120,000 others of Japanese ancestry during World War II. She also received $20,000 as a survivor of the Tule Lake concentration camp. While in no way did this money make up for the trauma and loss of dignity she experienced, it was still a meaningful step toward healing for her, our family and our community. Black Americans, however, still have not received any form of reparations for 250 years of slavery and continuing systemic racism. It is past due for meaningful action to address the generations of oppression experienced by Black people in the U.S.

Recently, the Japanese American community reaffirmed our support for House Resolution 40, which would create a commission to study the effects of slavery and make recommendations to Congress for reparations. Our community is familiar with a similar body, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, which was established in 1980 and facilitated Japanese Americans achieving redress and reparations. As a nation, we cannot truly begin to heal until we have reckoned with our past and provided compensation for people affected by injustices. The apology and financial compensation received by Japanese Americans like my grandmother was just a first step. Now is the time to support the call for reparations for Black Americans and for our country to continue down the path toward reconciliation.