Providence, Rhode Island is making other progressive cities look slow as the current Mayor Jorge Elorza signed a bill into law that dedicates $10 million in reparations for the city’s community of Black and indigenous people – but might also allow poor white people to get access to funds because the law requires the city to not give money out based on race.
The budget plan was signed into law by Mayor Elorza in November and promises to allocate millions of dollars for repara.tions for the city’s Bl.ack and N.ative American pop.ulations.
People in these groups should qualify for the perks of the reparations immediately while poor white Providence residents might be able to access funds through backroad channels.
Since Providence is getting money for reparations from federal funds, they cannot earmark the money for specific r.aces. This means that the white residents of Providence, who make up nearly half of the city’s population, might also be able to get reparation money from the progressive city and the Creative Capital of Rhode Island.
Whites are able to apply for the funds so long as they earn less than fifty thousand dollars per year and live in certain neighborhoods of the city – and have been living in Rhode Island for at least three years.
Providence’s reparation program is different from other programs across the country in that it will not give money directly to people who are affected.
Instead, the reparations will be invested into things like Bla.ck businesses and media organizations as well as programs that help place residents of color in higher paying jobs and other initiatives.
Providence will allocate some of its ten million dollar funds toward different aspects of ra.cism that have caused systemic problems in Ocean State’s capital. About $400,000 will go toward “recognition of harm,” $1.5 million will go toward the “creation and development of the media,” and $300,000 will be invested in “creating a more equitable healthcare system” in the city and state.
US Census data found that Providence had a population of about 190,000 people. Of those people, about 29,000 of them are Bla.ck. White people are the majority of the city’s residents and include about 95,000 people or 53 percent of the population.
While this reparations program has been approved in Providence, not everyone is happy about it.
Many white people are concerned that they will be given money even if they do not need or deserve it and other residents of color feel that the funds should only go to those who have faced personal hardship due to rac.ism instead of being shared with the whole population.
As a result, some polit.ical leaders in the city have called for further discu.ssion of the bill before it goes into effect.
Regardless of any disagreements over the details, Rhode Island’s creative capital has made history as one of the first cities in America to pass a law that allocates funding to help repair past wrongs from systemic ra.cism.
While there may still be debates over how the money should be allotted, it is clear that Providence wants to make a change and ensure the future of its community.