Law professor and outspoken advocate for reparations joins Biden Treasury transition team

Professor Mehrsa Baradaran has applied pressure to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to openly embrace a reparations plan for black Americans

Updated: November 16, 2020 - 8:54am

Mehrsa Baradaran, a professor at the University of California at Irvine's School of Law and prominent advocate of reparations for black Americans, has been tapped to join the Biden-Harris transition team.

Baradaran argues that reparations, giving money to black Americans to compensate for slavery, would correct capitalist "white supremacy" in America and close the resulting racial wealth gap. 

"A reparations program could take many forms from simple cash payments or baby bonds to more complex schemes such as subsidized college tuition, basic income, housing vouchers, or subsidized mortgage credit," wrote Baradaran in her 2017 book "The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap." 

Baradaran has been critical of Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' non-committal stances on the question of reparations.

"Dear Kamala, Reparations or go home," she tweeted in 2019. Later in the presidential cycle, she wrote, "Biden just dodged that reparations question like a much nimbler and younger man." 

Biden and Harris have not be specific about whether they support legislative to move toward reparations.

"When you are talking about the years and years and years of trauma that were experienced because of slavery, because of Jim Crow and because of all that we have seen in terms of institutional and legal discrimination and racism, this is very real and it needs to be studied," said Harris during a 2019 town hall. 

Biden similarly did not endorse a specific reparations bill or legislative plan.

Other top Democratic lawmakers, including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and voting rights organizer and advocate Stacey Abrams, have explicitly backed and advocated for reparations, an idea that has gained some popularity among practitioners of progressive politics over the past several years.

Prior to her going the Biden-Harris transition team, Baradaran assisted 2020 Democratic presidential contenders Sens. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, both progressives, and the more moderate Pete Buttigieg the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, on their policy proposals to address the racial wealth gap in America.