• February 29th, 2024
  • Thursday, 08:28:39 PM

Let’s Talk About Reparations


Candi CdeBaca

Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca


Some of you may have noticed that my name and the word reparations went viral over the weekend, and I want to give you, my constituents, some background on what’s going on, what it means, and what we can work on together going forward.


Last week, I participated in a candidate forum that was hosted by the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance of Denver, a coalition of local Black faith leaders, during which they asked all runoff candidates for mayor, City Council District 9, and City Council District 8 questions that were very specific to Denver’s Black community. One of those questions was: Do you support reparations and their implementation at the local level? If so, how could that potentially look? We had two minutes to respond, and I answered the question directly. Yes, I support reparations, and I provided hypothetical examples of what that might look like at the local level, including considering how our special taxing districts for businesses (business improvement districts, or BIDs) could play a role. Every single candidate at the forum also stated that they supported some form of racial reparations.


A clip of my response was circulated with zero context by the far-right hate account, Libs of TikTok, encouraging its white nationalist followers to systematically harass and threaten me, and it was further amplified by initial media coverage, primarily within the far-right news ecosystem but also by some local news outlets. True to the Libs of TikTok playbook, thousands of abusive comments and threats flooded social media and emails and voicemails to both my campaign and our District 9 office over the weekend.


The video that was circulated is just a very small piece of information from a candidate forum that was taken completely out of context. My words were an on-the-spot response about what kind of structures already exist that could be considered in a conversation at the local level. It was not something I am proposing, and it is not something that was vetted by the community.


The video that was circulated is just a very small piece of information from a candidate forum that was taken completely out of context.


But let’s be clear: I do think reparations are necessary, both locally and nationally. And many people have already been having that conversation for a very long time. One example locally is the work of the Denver Black Reparations Council. Nationally, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) has existed since 1987. Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essay The Case for Reparations was published almost ten years ago. More recently, there have been many great ideas about what reparations could look like, including the panel recommendation that was put forward in California this past weekend. If the concept of reparations is unfamiliar to you, I encourage you to click through the information I’ve provided in this newsletter message, and to read and reflect.


We need to have an honest conversation about racial justice in a city that will lose more of its residents of color if we don’t respond with urgency. But what that ultimately looks like will be up to the community to bring those ideas forward. So tell me your ideas for reparations. How do we repair the harm to the Black community locally and nationally? What can it look like here in Denver? How can we think differently about what our government is able to do in repairing this harm? Who else is owed reparations, and what would repairing that harm look like? Let me know. That’s what I’m here for.



Candi CdeBaca is a Denver Councilwoman for District 9. She is the incumbent in Denver’s Municipal Run-Off election on June 6.