HAND is pleased to join Enterprise in announcing the launch of a request for proposals (RFP) process to secure research capacity with expertise in the reparations movement within the District of Columbia. This RFP is designed to develop a comprehensive history of the negative impacts of slavery and subsequent systematic oppression on Africans and their descendants in the District of Columbia, as well as the costs, remedies, and responsible parties, to make repair.
This effort is in line with Enterprise’s national strategic priority on advancing racial equity and upward mobility. It is also an outgrowth of the continuing work by Enterprise to answer the critical action-focused question “So What, Now What?” after Enterprise sponsored Designing the WE’s Undesign the Redline exhibit in the region in 2017. This research phase will benchmark and inform subsequent development of cross-sector partnerships, and implementation of the recommendations, in the District of Columbia. As one example, DC Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie recently introduced a bill to create a Task Force to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans in Washington, D.C. The goal of this research is to inform and advance the goals of the Task Force, should it be convened.
According to the Urban Institute’s 2016 report The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital, white households in D.C. had a net worth 81 times greater than black households. The report notes “Black people in the District have faced more than two centuries of deliberately constructed barriers to wealth building, which were embedded by design in the law. Whether enslaved, barred from jobs in lucrative sectors, diverted from a stake in land giveaways, seeing their neighborhoods targeted for urban renewal, or watching their housing options squeezed by federal redlining, Black families in the District have had little chance to build wealth.”
“Enterprise is sponsoring this research as a means of boldly advancing the efforts to secure more racial equity in the district. The disparities are clear and longstanding. It is long past time to make the case, present the bill and call the question,” said David Bowers, Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Market Leader, Enterprise. “Are people and institutions really about accountability and racial equity? About justice? About bridging gaps? If so – at some point a serious look at reparations must be done.”
Central to the success of this work are industry partners that share the common goal of operationalizing racial equity. HAND has been deliberate in reaching beyond the symptoms of inequity to address the root causes that amplify housing disparities and restrict access to opportunity for communities of color. The organization also hosted Undesign the Redline in 2018, which left a lasting mark on HAND, propelling its membership collective into a space where it places racial equity at the center of all its activities – from an intentionality in advocacy priorities to ongoing learnings that build its members’ capacity in this arena.
“This is a moment in our nation’s history we will never forget. As we are forced to reckon with racial injustice and reminded of the unrelenting assault on Black bodies, this study on the injuries of slavery will lay the foundation for a redress movement that rises up to meet this moment,” said Heather Raspberry, HAND’s Executive Director. “HAND is committed to real, meaningful paths towards racially just and equitable outcomes for the District and the entire region. We commend Enterprise for commissioning this research and look forward to working with other HAND members and partners on this effort.”