Black New York residents spar over who should receive reparation payments

Gov Hochul established commission to examine methods of paying reparations to descendants of slaves

Black New Yorkers have conflicting ideas over who deserves reparations as a commission will soon begin to discuss the issue.

In December, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill that established a commission to research the best ways to offer reparations to descendants of slaves in the state. By February, she announced the members who would make up the commission. 

Although the commission has yet to meet, some Black residents were already concerned that it would be limited only to direct descendants of slaves, similar to what California’s reparations commission announced.

"That’s a false narrative," Bertha Lewis, head of the Brooklyn-based Black Institute, told the New York Post. "I don’t give a f--k what California did."

Black reparations protest

In February, New York announced members of its new commission to study methods to provide reparations to the descendants of slaves in the state. (Manny Ceneta/Getty Images/File)


She continued, "You can’t just say, 'Only descendants of slaves from the South.’ Black people faced the effects of slavery — discrimination — simply because they’re Black."

Lewis also emphasized that it could be difficult to pinpoint direct descendants of slaves, claiming that all Black people have since been affected.

"If you’re going to talk about reparations, you have to talk about discrimination that has gone on a long time against Black people in the White American system," Lewis said.

By contrast, LittleAfrica News founder Mona Davids, a Black South African, argued that Black citizens who willingly immigrated to New York should not receive reparations since "It was our choice to come here."

"The only beneficiaries of reparations should be descendants of chattel slavery — not African immigrants or Afro-Caribbean descendants," Davids told the New York Post.

placeholderShe added, "Descendants of slaves didn’t have a choice. White people benefited from slavery."
Black reparations protest signs

Debate has begun over whether all Black New Yorkers would receive reparations or only descendants of slaves. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Davids also called out African countries, pointing out that some of their rulers had previously profited from slavery as well.

"In many cases it was Black Africans who sold slaves. Ghana is rich. Nigeria is rich," she said.

Fox News Digital reached out to the New York governor’s office for a comment.

Hochul did not elaborate whether reparations included all Black citizens or only descendants of slaves, however, she argued that even descendants of immigrants who arrived after the end of slavery could be culpable in paying reparations.


"I think of the immigrants and the children of immigrants who've come here since the end of slavery," Hochul said. "They will say, 'We had no involvement in slavery. ... None of our relatives were slave owners.' And there's part of me that worries about leaping into this conversation because of the racial divisions, strife it could sow.'"

Kathy Hochul reparations bill

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul holds up signed legislation creating a commission for the study of reparations in New York on December 19, 2023, in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

The governor continued, "These huddles and tired masses came here to seek a better life. ... Slaves, people who were enslaved, didn't come here willingly to pursue a dream, but they came in bondage to live a nightmare. And we have to ask, do those of us whose family came here to pursue a dream not have a role to play in ending a nightmare? Yes, yes wedo."

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