When asked about reparations during a CNN town hall Wednesday night, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) made the case that financial security and lower incarceration rates could reduce racial disparities in the United States — two area’s President Donald Trump has championed.
Racial disparities and reparations.
Reparations have been a hot topic for some 2020 Democrats, though few have offered a blueprint for the policy. The idea is that the United States government spent much of its history oppressing black Americans, starting with slavery and continuing through the Jim Crow era.
Some argue that some black families today continue to struggle because they do not have the ability to stand on the financial shoulders of past generations due to discrimination. As a solution, some have argued that racial minorities should be given a check from the government as a reparation, though it isn’t clear how that would actually work.
Because other candidates, like former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, have come out in support of reparations for descendants of slaves, Booker was asked where he stands on the issue.
The senator explained that he believes most 2020 Democrats are only using it as a “box to check” to win over black voters. Instead, he offered some concrete areas Americans need to address to bolster racial equality in the U.S.
Watch Booker explain his proposal to address racial inequality:
Cory Booker: “Can I tell you why I’m frustrated and disappointed by this reparations conversation? It’s because it's being reduced to just a box to check on a presidential list when this is so much more of a serious conversation." #BookerTownHall https://t.co/8If7Lkd89C pic.twitter.com/AgozRMHaQk
— CNN (@CNN) March 28, 2019
Booker pointed to two present-day issues facing black Americans that can be addressed: financial disparities and mass incarceration.
Across the board, black Americans earn less than almost all other racial groups in the United States. They are also imprisoned at rates much higher than other groups. With lower incomes and higher incarceration rates, black Americans continue to fall behind other racial groups, sustaining those disparities for generations.
To address this, Booker outlined strategies to ensure that black Americans can achieve financial security while avoiding prison. While his strategies to achieve those two goals differ from the policies put forward by Republicans, President Trump has set in motion Booker’s hopes for America.
Trump has tackled the issues Booker raised.
As HUD Secretary Ben Carson explained, President Trump tends to ignore issues of identity politics, but that doesn’t mean racial disparities aren’t being addressed.
The economy under President Trump has been rock solid since he took office, with more Americans entering the workforce and wages rising across the board. Those successes aren’t isolated to just one racial group.
Under Trump, black unemployment hit record lows which is a strong sign for economic security. Beyond that, black entrepreneurship has skyrocketed, as IJR previously reported. Minority business ownership grew 400 percent from 2017 to 2018.
While these economic accomplishments are being felt by all Americans, the Trump administration is working to focus some of the wealth from the booming economy into urban areas that struggle economically — many of which continue to feel the effects of redlining, a problem Booker mentioned.
Trump signed an executive order to establish “opportunity zones” in cities across the U.S. that encourages companies to invest and create jobs in neighborhoods that businesses have avoided for decades, as IJR previously reported.
With the help of people like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, President Trump put a focus on reducing mass incarceration in the United States by changing federal prison policies in a way that allowed the release of many non-violent offenders.
In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the First Step Act passed with flying colors. Even CNN host Van Jones — an outspoken critic of President Trump — claimed the legislation was proof that Republicans are “now the leader” on criminal justice reform, as IJR previously reported.
If Booker believes the first steps in addressing racial inequalities in the U.S. are ensuring financial stability and reducing mass incarceration, he may want to take a look at what’s going on at the White House.