Senator Kamala Harris, a contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said she believes reparations should be made to the African American community, explaining that more needs to be done to address mental health in the community.
Speaking to NPR, Harris said the black community has suffered undiagnosed mental trauma, the result of abuse handed down through the generations beginning with slavery. The California senator said this public mental health issue should be redressed with reparations.
“The term ‘reparations,’ it means different things to different people. But what I mean by it, is that we need to study the effects of generations of discrimination and institutional racism and determine what have been…the consequences and what can be done in terms of intervention to correct course,” Harris said.
“It is centuries of slavery—violence associated with slavery. There was never any real intervention to break up what had been generations of people experiencing the highest forms of trauma, and trauma undiagnosed and untreated leads to physiological outcomes.”
According to a February poll, Harris has been competing with Democratic frontrunners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, trailing the two by five percent, according to Monmouth University, New Jersey and Emerson College, Iowa.
Harris, 54, has served in the Senate for two years and is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants. She was the first African-American and first woman to serve as California’s attorney general and joins what is a large and diverse field for the Democratic Party nomination, featuring many non-white and female presidential candidates.
This is not the first time Harris has addressed the issue of reparations. In a February interview with The Breakfast Club radio show, Harris said she supported government reparations, in some form, to the black community. The former California attorney general has also said that the criminal justice system is inherently racist.
“There is systemic racism in the system,” the presidential hopeful has said. “We have a problem with mass incarceration in particular of black and brown men,” she added.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has also said she supports reparations for the black community, though she has not detailed what form those reparations would take.