Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) says that reparations for slavery could have cut COVID-19 infection and transmission rates in Black communities.
The statement was part of a speech on the House floor in support of H.R. 40, a bill to establish a commission to study and consider a formal apology for slavery, and a proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery. Ms. Jackson suggested that Blacks contracting COVID at a higher rate than that of white people was an example of “DNA in the trajectory of slavery.”
Ms. Jackson cited a study by Harvard University to back her claims connecting slavery to COVID. The 2021 study, authored by Dr. Eugene Richardson, an assistant professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School, was published in the Journal of Science & Medicine.
According to CNN, the study’s author had stated in an email that the study is an example of “how racism gets into people’s bodies and makes them sick, which can be added to this litany (of evidence for reparations).”
H.R.40 is named for the unfulfilled federal promise to provide freed African Americans with “40 acres and a mule.”
While no monetary amount is mentioned in the bill, the commission’s mission would study the role of federal and state governments in supporting the “institution of slavery, forms of discrimination in public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants, and lingering adverse effects of slavery on living African Americans and society.”
In an NNPA interview earlier this year, White House Senior Advisor to President Biden and Director of the Office of Public Engagement, Cedric Richmond, told the Black Press that the Biden administration supports Rep. Lee’s H.R. 40.
In 2019, Ms. Lee stated that the bill would pass and be signed by the president on her watch.
Ms. Lee wants to have the commission established while the House is still in the lame-duck session.
Ms. Lee ended her speech by insisting that the H.R. 40 commission be established either by vote or executive order.