Updated: Jun 11
Reparations now or never
The wealth gap between White and Black familes continue to be a tremendous disparity in the United Sates. Eventhough African American ancestry in the United States predates most White Families, African American wealth remains miniscule compared to Whites:
Reparations, should be considered now before it is too late. Anti-reparation spokesmen are claiming that too much time has passed and there is no way to identify people who have been directly affected, or are the descendants of those directly affected by the oppressive elements of American society. The nay-sayers believe that America has become so complicated, progressive and diversified, and that its people are more righteous, inclusive and interracially mixed, that there cannot be a fair and accurate way to structure reparations in a way that it targets those intended. There are continuing claims about how other folks in society such as European immigrants, Hispanics, Asians, etc., are making it without any special consideration. In addition, as time passes, more and more Americans reach age of majority as upstanding, law-abiding, voting citizens, and many of them, from all ethnic groups, have lost touch with the history and the struggle of African Americans that has lasted over 400 hundred years. These youthful Americans do not remember the nationally broadcast episodes of the civil rights movement where Blacks were regularly beaten, gassed, dog attacked, fire hosed, and otherwise mistreated in their pursuit of a seat at the local diner or anywhere on a bus, or in society. It will not be long before a generation of Americans simply views the state of Black America as victims of themselves rather than victims of society. The reality is that Black America has been left socially, economically, spiritually, politically, and educationally castrated by the deeply penetrating ill effects of hundreds of years of slavery and oppression in a White society.
The belief that reparations be considered now before it is too late directly relates to the segment of American society born in the seventies or later. Time has a way of lessening the pain, smoothing out the edges, losing touch with the details, making things less black and white and more gray. This of course happens as society evolves. People die, connections to the past are lost, new issues or crisis emerge, migrations happen, sentiment changes, politics and philosophies evolve, the next thing you know, the factors that support reparations are just historical references to events rather than debt owed by society. However, today we have many people alive who remember, many conditions that can be directly connected to oppression uncontested, a general sentiment in society for fairness and to do the right thing, and a new generation of people who, if made consciously aware of the factors causing the Black condition would probably recognize and support the notion of reparations if a common-sense reparations solution can be brought forward.
However, Many fear that reparation means a substantial cash payout to everyone who claims to be of African descent in America. While this is an obvious option, it is by far the least sensible and practical. I explore ideas where society can offset hundreds of years of oppression with approaches aimed at relieving some of the fundamental flaws in the Black community. However, my belief is that any benefit provided as reparations to African Americans should be available to all Americans but concentrated in its impact on predominately Black communities. An approach like this will support the fact that there are varying degrees of the impact of racist America on African Americans, and will attempt to accommodate this disparity in its application. These programs would be designed to instill self-worth and respect, a sense of purpose, community involvement, skill development, and a connection to mainstream opportunities. Reparations would have to be a serious attempt to lift as many African Americans as possible into the American mainstream and would need to be supported long enough to fully impact the coming of age of an entire generation of African Americans. I estimate a period of 50 years of dedicated application would be required to repair some of the damage done to Blacks over the past 400 years. Keep in mind that reparations is not an attempt to “even the playing field” between whites and blacks. Without major radical worldwide socio-economic reformation, the playing field has been permanently offset by Europeans in the favor of whites around the world. Most economic resources will continue to be controlled and influenced by already fabulously wealthy and powerful capitalist. Reparations is simply an attempt to correct the disproportionate number of African Americans who continue to be on a downward socio-economic spiral without the consciousness, resources or skills needed to uplift their community. Reparation is simply an attempt to break the chain of poverty and despair, and give future generations of millions of Blacks a shot at being productive, economically stable, contributors to society.
There are several precedents where the United States acknowledged harm done to groups of people or nations and provided restitution, support and goodwill to them.Why then should not the United States consider harm done to its African American population and determine the appropriate level of reconstruction required to at least improve this group’s condition and long term viability, if not correct for past harm?
The United States has willing made reparations with:
- U.S. Guarantees to American Indians
- U.S. Aid to Post WWII Europe and Japan
- Post-World War II Assistance to Germany
- Post-World War II Assistance to Japan
- U.S. Reparations to Japanese Americans
- U.S. Aid to Israel
- U.S. Aid to IRAQ
- Current U.S. Assistance to Iraq
- U.S. Aid to Afghanistan
Meaningful restitution for African Americans, who again, are the only Americans actually created in the United States, would not only be fair, but considering the opportunity loss this group has endured in the greatest country on earth during the past 400 years, it would also be the right thing to do.