Sen. Booker sponsors bill to research reparations for slavery in America

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Presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is sponsoring a bill that could be the first step toward granting reparations for American slavery.

Booker tweeted: "I am proud to introduce legislation that will finally address many of our country's policies—rooted in a history of slavery and white supremacy—that continue to erode Black communities, perpetuate racism and implicit bias, and widen the racial wealth gap."

The bill would establish a commission to study the history of slavery in America and the lingering negative effects of the institution. It would report to Congress on how to best educate the public and consider any form of compensation to the descendants of enslaved Africans.

Eva Pearson, program director of the Social Science Research Institute at Farmingdale State College, says a commission would tackle many challenging questions.

"If you're going to start looking at people who are descendants of slaves, then the questions arrive what do you do about people who are Native Americans, or what do you do for Japanese families that were affected by internment camps. So it's really a complicated issue, not just because of what they're proposing, but really it would be the execution of it that would raise all kinds of interesting questions."

Supporters say reparations are needed to address slavery and racist aspects of American history. But critics claim such a move could cost trillions of taxpayer dollars without solving the issue of racism.

The bill, currently sponsored in the House by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, of Texas, has emerged as a key policy question for 2020 Democratic hopefuls. Booker says his bill will be filed in the Senate later this week.

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