Mayor Johnson’s Call for Reparations Ignores Chicago’s Most Serious Problems

July 4, 2024

Mayor Johnson should concentrate on the present, not the past

Last month, at the Juneteenth flag raising at Daley Plaza, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced his appointment of Carla Kupe as Chicago's chief equity officer.  Shortly after introducing Kupe as the city’s DEI czar, Johnson also revealed the creation of a new taskforce on reparations. “It is now the time to deliver good on reparations for the people of Chicago," said the mayor, "particularly black people.”

In the current city budget, $500,000 has been allocated to this task force, although Johnson has not indicated how that money will be spent. The Chicago Sun-Times says that Kupe, the daughter of Congolese immigrants, is "likely to play a fundamental role in determining what reparations will look like in Chicago."

Let’s state the obvious: Slavery in America was an abomination and the institutional racism that followed for the next century, including segregation, lynchings, Jim Crow laws, and housing discrimination, was disgraceful as well. 

In Chicago, racial covenants, redlining, discriminatory contract home sales, as well as overt bigotry, were widespread decades ago.

In contrast, Illinois was never a slave state. Over 250,000 Illinoisans fought in the Civil War to preserve the Union and end slavery, and over 30,000 of them perished in that conflict. Racial covenants were ruled to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 made redlining illegal, and the swindles of contract home sales became much more difficult to implement because of the protections those laws offered.

Think about it: Someone who was 18 when the Community Reinvestment Act became law reached retirement age this year.

The socioeconomic situation people are born into, whether they are on the long end or the short end of the stick, is not their responsibility. And the better people — and I believe that's a strong majority — hope everyone succeeds, regardless of race.

Thomas Sowell, who is black, addressed this ludicrousness:

“Have we reached the ultimate stage of absurdity where some people are held responsible for things that happenedbefore they were born while other people are not held responsible for what they themselves are doing today?”


Johnson regularly speaks about disinvestment as a communal sin against African Americans.

At the Daley Center ceremony, the mayor said that reparations will "unlock the doors of prosperity to fully flow through the neighborhoods that have been disinvested in for decades." However, if Johnson is obliquely referring to businesses — and of course jobs —moving out of black neighborhoods, rampant crime is a primary reason business leaders name for abandoning these communities.

The Reverend Corey Brooks, the "Rooftop Pastor" from Woodlawn, who has a far different perspective on reparations, outlined it in a recent op-ed:

“Where are the reparations for the city’s failure to produce adequate protection for its residents? Where are the reparations for the city’s failure to provide adequate schooling to inspire kids toward the American Dream instead of nihilistic violence? And where are the reparations for the city’s woke legal system that puts the interest of violent criminals above the interests of the city’s hardworking citizens?”

Those are great questions, every one of them.

Over the last several decades, millions of immigrants, many of them Asian and Hispanic, have settled in the United States, some arriving with next to nothing. Many of these new Americans, and their children, have prospered. While fatherless households — or if you prefer, one-parent households — are sadly quite common in the black community, that's not true of other minority communities. 

Education has been the pathway out of poverty for many immigrant families, but Chicago's public schools, which have seen per-student funding soar in the last decade, are among the worst in America. 

Johnson — and he has reminded us of this fact — with his wife is raising three school-age children. No mayor can be expected to solve what appears to be an intractable problem: The prevalence of fatherless households in the black community. Nevertheless, ignoring this crisis certainly doesn't create a path, however tenuous, to a solution. And as half of a parenting team, Johnson, a minister's son, is an ideal spokesman to espouse the benefits of two-parent households.

In 2008, Barack Obama drove the point home about this issue, stating that "children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison."

Look for Johnson's taskforce to recommend some sort of reparations to be paid, although Chicago, which because of decades of underfunding of its public pensions, is essentially broke. Will the task force recommend a reparations tax on Chicago's businesses? The problem of single-parent households almost certainly will not be addressed. Expect the same omission regarding the debacle that is Chicago Public Schools, especially since the far-left CORE caucus leading the Chicago Teachers Union, which was the primary backer of Johnson's successful mayoral run, is the straw that stirs the CPS drink. And it is a safe prediction that the task force will ignore the inconvenient fact that Chicago has been a majority-minority city for decades.

Can a Chicago reparations program survive a legal challenge? Evanston, with great fanfare, rolled out a reparations program in 2021 to address past housing discrimination. But Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, filed a lawsuit on behalf of six Evanston residents that makes the claim that reparations payments violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Just as with affirmative action and DEI programs, don't expect an end date for any recommended reparations from Johnson's task force. There will be a call for more studies — expensive ones — and more task forces. It will be a golden era for Chicago's growing grievance industry. 

Fourteen months into his term as mayor, Johnson is floundering. He is suffering from low approval ratings, largely because, at best, he dances around the issue of crime. 

Johnson's response to his unpopularity is to change the subject and satiate his African American base.

Related Posts