A major reparations advocate has a seat on Joe Biden’s transition team.
Mehrsa Baradaran, a professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, is helping Biden prepare to “hit the ground running on Day One” as a member of his Department of the Treasury agency review team. Baradaran is an outspoken advocate of reparations for black Americans, both as a means of correcting “white supremacy” and closing the racial wealth gap.
Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) dodged questions about reparations throughout the 2020 cycle. Baradaran took note of their refusal to stake out a firm stance on the issue. “Dear Kamala, Reparations or go home,” she wrote in June 2019. “Biden just dodged that reparations question like a much nimbler and younger man,” she said in December 2019, referencing a Democratic primary debate.
In her 2017 book The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap, Baradaran argues that closing the racial wealth gap requires acknowledging past wrongs and providing compensation for damages. “A reparations program could take many forms from simple cash payments or baby bonds to more complex schemes such as subsidized college tuition, basic income, housing vouchers, or subsidized mortgage credit,” she writes. Baradaran’s book inspired Netflix to donate $100 million to organizations that “support Black communities.”