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Editor of the Reformer,

Last year, Putney Friends Meeting (Quakers) approved the following letter about studying and developing reparations proposals and sent it to our representative, Peter Welch. We want to encourage other individuals and groups to consider also supporting the passage of this bill.

Dear Peter Welch,

We urge you to co-sponsor HR 40 - Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. The Putney Friends Meeting is deeply committed to ending all racism, particularly that experienced by African Americans. HR 40 will be an important step in that direction.

As Vermonters of primarily European heritage we know we have much to learn and unlearn. We seek to better understand the lasting effects of slavery - the continuing injustices and economic, social, and political discrimination. We see the benefit to ourselves and to the nation to look at our history clearly, recognizing both the ideals that have guided us and the injuries we have inflicted. We are finding that facing our own history is painful and is the only way forward. As a group we have committed to learning as much as possible and to taking actions that will move us closer to ending racism.

In our study we found "A Case for Reparations" by Ta Nehisi Coates very helpful. This article details the lasting injustice inflicted on African Americans through the practice of redlining and the ongoing, perhaps more subtle, practices that continue today. We highly recommend this article as you continue to shape your thoughts about reparations.

As a step in this process we want HR 40 to pass and we urge you to become a co-sponsor. HR 40 will "establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and a proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies".

We believe that now is the time for this essential conversation. The Black Lives Matter movement and growing awareness of racially biased law enforcement and mass incarceration of African Americans is a powerful reminder that equality has not yet been reached.

In a response to an earlier request by one of our members that you become a co-sponsor of HR 40, you asked, "Would 'reparations' paid by this generation atone for the wrongs of a prior generation(s)? And would it help us heal current divisions or intensify them?" Although we cannot know what the commission might find, we believe that reparations are about healing ourselves and repairing our relationships to each other as well as recompensing African Americans for past injustices.

We are ready to add this to the national discourse and HR 40 is the place to begin. Please join us by co-sponsoring this bill.

Sincerely, Putney Friend Meeting, Religious Society of Friends

Thank you,

Gail Haines

Putney, Jan. 25

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