Witness at Reparations Hearing: 'White People Are Ignorant'

WASHINGTON -- Economist and political commentator Dr. Julianne Malveaux, a witness at the congressional subcommittee hearing on reparations, said white people are not "evil" but they're "ignorant" when it comes to the history of slavery and racism in the U.S.

"When people talk about 'we've already paid reparations,' I've heard people talk about the fact that white people died in the Civil War fighting on the side of the North. Well, the North was also a beneficiary of enslavement, quite frankly," Malveaux said during a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties hearing on Wednesday focused on H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.

"So, no, reparations have not been paid and the fact is, again, some folks may want checks, but what we're really talking about is closing that wealth gap and making people whole," she added.

Under questioning from Rep. Shiela Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Malveaux mentioned the GI bill as an example of the federal government's past discrimination against African Americans. She said fewer than 1,000 black men were able to go to college on the GI bill in Mississippi.

"Congress has indifferently, essentially, sidelined black people from the opportunities that they created for white people, plain and simple -- sidelined us from those opportunities and that's why it's time now to talk about how to fix that," Malveaux said. "I don't like to think that white people are evil. I think that white people are ignorant. I think that white people do not know what the history is and I commend you all to look at the history and the work you've done in the past and then challenge you to do the right thing."

Other witnesses at the hearing included actor and activist Danny Glover, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. Decade for People of African Descent as well as former NFL player and author Burgess Owens.

Jackson Lee is the lead sponsor of H.R. 40 and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is sponsoring the companion bill in the Senate.

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