May 23, 2019

The Green New Deal Should Include Reparations

“Environmental justice activist Anthony Rogers-Wright lives full-time in Seattle, Washington, but just happened to be in Massachusetts last weekend when he heard that Senator Ed Markey was holding a town hall about the Green New Deal in Northampton, a crunchy college town in the heart of the state. So Rogers-Wright attended, in the hopes of asking Markey whether the Democrats’ emerging grand plan to fight climate change includes reparations for black and brown people.

Rogers-Wright believed that it did. After all, a paragraph on page six of the 14-page resolution Markey and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced in February says the Green New Deal should “promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression” of vulnerable and minority communities. But Rogers-Wright wanted to be sure. So when he got to the microphone, he cited the passage above and asked, “Does that mean reparations?”

Markey would not commit to a definitive answer. The resolution, he said, deliberately “doesn’t mention any individual item” or specific policy, adding, “It’s meant to open up a big debate in our country” about how to fight climate change. A Green New Deal must eventually “ensure that every race, every economic strata is fully represented in this discussion—that we leave no one behind and it is environmental justice,” he added. But how that will be done is still up for discussion.”

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