SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS (November 2, 2022) — Following a revelation about a newly-appointed commissioner to the Illinois African Descent-Citizens Reparations Commission, Black residents reached out to the Governor Pritzker’s office only to be sharply rebuked. Those residents and their allies are now creating a coalition called Illinois Rejects Racist Reparations (IR3) and they are committed to holding governing bodies accountable for implementing equitable policies and procedures that directly impact the efficacy of reparations for American Descendants of United States Chattel Slavery. The coalition is convening a public forum this Friday to determine what the future of the commission should be.
“This is a moment of reckoning for Black Illinois,” said LaCreshia Birts, head of the Black Remembrance Project, a grassroots group which led the charge to make Juneteenth a paid holiday in Chicago. “Information about a particular commissioner was brought to the attention of myself and several other reparationists. We went to the governor’s office, hoping to address the situation swiftly and in good faith. However, we were met with a patronizing response from Anne Caprara, Gov Pritzker’s Chief of Staff, who basically said it was okay to put beneficiaries of slave holders on this commission.”
Although the group is incensed about the way they were engaged by the governor's office, they are more upset about the lack of serious deliberation around the process and composition of commission appointments.
"When I saw the exchange, I was speechless," said Gabriel Piemonte, founder and president of the Italian American Heritage Society of Chicago. "Nothing says white privilege like a white staffer for the governor lecturing a Black reparations group about who should be on their commission. This is not the way white allies repair harm."
IR3 is concerned not only for the integrity of the Illinois Commission but for the influence it could have on the state reparations bodies being formed across the country.
"What we don't need is a watered-down commission," said Rose Cannon, head of the group Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations. "We’ve witnessed this type of neoliberal policy, systemic violence, and misdirection since 2019 in Evanston and now we are seeing it at the state level.
We will end up stomping out fires all over the country — with merely-performative, state commissions popping up — if a dangerous precedent is set here."
The reparationists are convening a town hall-style Zoom meeting this Friday, November 4, 2022, 7-9PM. People can participate by signing up at https://bit.ly/IR3_meeting.