Story at a glance
- Reparations have been touted as a solution for lingering racist wealth gaps rooted in slavery.
- Several cities have enacted reparations policies on the local level, and the Biden administration has signaled its support.
- Now, a prominent federal bank president has voiced his support for the idea.
The first Black and first gay president of a federal regional bank knows firsthand about the ongoing inequities in this country.
“There were definitely times where I wondered whether this was really for me," Raphael Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, told CNN.
"If you're an African American, people are going to judge you by how you look," said the graduate of Harvard and Stanford University with a doctorate in economics. "In certain situations, that means you're going to be under different types of scrutiny."
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Those situations can be everything from dealing with law enforcement to approaching banks. Last summer, a nonprofit found that white applicants looking to secure Paycheck Protection Program loans were treated more fairly than Black applicants in both Los Angeles and the D.C. area. Meanwhile, redlining, a historically racist policy discriminating against Black people in property value, continues to this day, alleges a lawsuit against the real estate firm Redfin.
"We have African Americans today who have a lot less wealth in part because they have not been able to inherit the wealth that would have accrued had their ancestors been able to accrue that wealth," Bostic told CNN.
He is one of the highest-level federal officials to endorse reparations under the Biden administration, which announced its support for a study of slavery reparations in February and has since signaled their willingness to further explore reparations for slavery.
"There are definitely merits to it in the sense that, if people have been harmed by laws, then there should be a discussion about redress," Bostic told CNN.
"The legacies of past racism are still present in our society," he added. "We have to think about what things are necessary to offset the impacts of those old systems that still flow through."
Some parts of the country have taken matters into their own hands. Last July, the Asheville City Council in North Carolina passed a resolution supporting reparations for Black residents, calling on the state to do the same, and last week the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Ill., became the first city to enact reparations.
But the rest of the country is still waiting, and to them, Bostic said, "You just have to keep going forward and try not to be defeated by that and try not to be beat down by that. It's one of those things where you can live in the world that you wish you had, or you could live in the world you actually have. I would rather do the latter."
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