- Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir on Tuesday said it’s wrong to "play politics" on the issue of reparations to descendants of slaves in response to criticism from 2020 Democratic candidate Julian Castro on the topic.
- Sanders in a recent interview said he did not explicitly support the notion of reparations, contending there are better ways of addressing racial disparities and crisis in the US than just "writing out a check."
- Castro on Sunday went after Sanders on this, stating some of the senator’s key policy positions calling for writing out a "big check…for a whole bunch of other stuff."
- "Sen. Sanders has been a lifelong advocate for racial and economic justice," Sanders’ 2020 campaign manager Faiz Shakir told INSIDER during a press call on Tuesday.
The issue of reparations to descendants of slaves is seemingly causing the first notable dispute between contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign on Monday responded to Julian Castro’s criticism of the Vermont senator’s recent remarks on reparations, a topic that’s emerging as a central issue along the campaign trail.
In a 2020 press call, Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir told INSIDER that an effort to "play politics" on this issue does a "disservice" to the senator’s "lifelong" advocacy for "racial and economic justice" and ignores the nuances of a "worthy debate."
"I think this is a worthy debate, I appreciate all of the candidates offering their thoughts and ideas. No one’s got the magic vision," Shakir said of the ongoing discussion on reparations in the context of the 2020 campaign season.
"We’ve had an awful legacy of slavery, awful legacy of racial disparities across so many different areas," Shakir added, but said anyone who says they have a "magic bullet" to address this is "lying."
Shakir went on to say, "This effort to play politics with it does a disservice to the fact that Sen. Sanders has been a lifelong advocate for racial and economic justice."
"The way you deal with a structural problem is a structural solution," Shakir said.
This comes after Castro, the former head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama, on Sunday went after Sanders for saying the solution to reparations cannot be just "writing out a check."
During an appearance on "The View" earlier this month, Sanders was pressed on why he has not explicitly endorsed reparations.
"The wealth gap … between the white community and the black community is like 10 to one. Health disparities are terrible, environmental disparities are terrible — Flint, Michigan, comes to mind," Sanders said at the time.
"What we have got to do is pay attention to distressed communities — black communities, Latino communities, and white communities all over this country — and as president I pledge to do that," the senator added.
But host Sunny Hostin continued to press Sanders on why he won’t endorse reparations more explicitly, so the senator asked what it really means from a policy standpoint. Hostin replied, "Money."
"I think that right now our job is to address the crises facing the American people in our communities," Sanders then said. "And I think there are better ways to do that than just writing out a check."
Castro, who has specifically embraced reparations, in a Sunday appearance on CNN’s "State of the Union" rebuked Sanders over these comments in relation to some of the senator’s key policy positions.
"I’ve long believed that this country should address slavery, the original sin of slavery, including by looking at reparations," Castro said. "If I’m president, then I’m going to appoint a commission or task force to determine the best way to do that."
Castro conceded that there’s a "tremendous amount of disagreement" on how to go about distributing reparations, but then alluded to Sanders referring to the issue as divisive in 2016 as he went on to criticize what the senator said on "The View."
"What [Sanders] said on ‘The View’ the other day, I think, he didn’t think the best way to address this was for the United States to write a check," Castro said.
"To my mind that may or may not be the best way to address it. However, it’s interesting to me that when it comes to ‘Medicare for all,’ health care, you know the response there has we need to write a big check, that when it comes to tuition-free or debt-free college, the answer has been we need to write a big check," Castro added.
"So if the issue is compensating the descendants of slaves, I don’t think that the argument about writing a big check ought to be the argument you make if you’re making the argument that a big check needs to be written for a whole bunch of other stuff," Castro said.
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