The U.S. House of Representatives has taken up H.40, a bill that would create a commission to develop proposals to address the lingering effects of slavery and consider a “national apology” for the harm it has caused.

Vermont H.478 (modeled after H.40) was taken up in House Government Operations on March 21, 2019. No testimony has been taken. This debate is about addressing the social, emotional, spiritual and economic impacts caused by a nation that has to this day used slavery to build and sustain political and economic power.

It is about acknowledging the self correcting nature of this oppression with the constitutionalization of prison slavery through the 13th amendment; commissioning convict leasing; instituting sharecropping; legalizing segregation, promoting Jim Crow, codifying redlining, limiting the New Deal and GI Bill to whites; criminalizing the Civil Rights movement; policing and incarcerating of black folks disproportionately, deconstructing the Voting Rights Act and more.

Any discussion about money only distracts us from the lakes of blood and mountains of bodies that continue to mount to this day, as some would have us believe that this all ended 150 years ago and it has nothing to do with us. The discussion is futile because our treasuries do not contain enough to make right what has been made wrong. Vermont policy makers, the best that you can do is to pass H.478 so we can get on with the work.

And, please, don’t ask another black person if we think that you should give us money.

Mark Hughes is the executive director of Justice For All.

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