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Awdz Bodkins

Should black Americans get slavery reparations?

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There's a lot of talk about reparations for slavery in the media these days; here's a BBC news article about it. What do you think?

 

My thoughts:  (tl;dr: sort of, but through societal reforms rather than direct payments)

 

1. Slavery in the US involved unspeakable cruelty by some white men (and women) against black people. There is no adequate way to make up for that.

2. Not all black US citizens are direct descendants of slaves. If payments are to be made, determining who truly qualifies would be a nightmare because of incomplete records. In true bureaucratic form, mistakes would be made more often to not pay eligible people than to overpay, and there would be much resentment.

3. There is some precedence for reparations to those mistreated on the basis of race. Cruelty and displacement of native americans was recompensed by isolating the tribes that survived on reservations (fewer reservations than recognized existing tribes) and declaring them sovereign nations (bureaucratic way of telling them to fend for themselves); recompense for internment of Japanese during WWII was provided to survivors in 1988, over 40 years after the end of the war. I am not aware of similar sweeping reparations having been made over a hundred years after the events.

4. There are very few people left whose grandparents were slaves or slave owners. It is hard to figure out the best way to make up for errors of generations past. If you ask the average person on their deathbed if they could have a wish for the world they leave behind, I suspect most would want their family to do well (thrive, flourish). Perhaps we could focus on that aspect in terms of reparations. 

 

The ones to whom reparations would have the most impact are those in the lowest income bracket. For them to thrive, basic needs need to be met. Civil rights abuses and statistical evidence of racial disparities point to the need for systemic changes toward true equality. IMO, perhaps we could start with taxing the privileged ultrarich enough to pay for medical care for all citizens, and raising the minimum wage to a living wage level. From there we can continue working on revising the justice system and other areas in society where racism has flourished at the expense of people.

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I'm with you - societal change is the way to go. From the article you linked:

 

Quote

Even for some black activists reparations seem an unreasonable ask.

Bayard Rustin, who organised the March on Washington and was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr, called it a "ridiculous idea".

"If my great-grandfather picked cotton for 50 years, then he may deserve some money, but he's dead and gone and nobody owes me anything," Mr Rustin told the New York Times in 1969.

He later expanded on the views, writing that a payout would demean "the integrity of blacks" and exploit white guilt.

"It is insulting to Negroes to offer them reparations for past generations for suffering, as if the balance of an irreparable past could be set straight with a handout."

 

What is much more scary is the way racism is now acceptable and flourishing again - with tacit official backing.

 

Quote

Coates detailed how housing policy and wealth gaps in particular most clearly illustrate the ways black citizens are still affected by America's past.

Decades of segregation kept black families away from white areas, which had better access to education, healthcare, food and other necessities, while institutionalised discrimination hindered black Americans' economic development.

"As we go further back in our history, one can see it as explicitly violent," Prof Hamilton says. "Now it might be implicitly violent."

Subconscious racism in police forces, enduring bias against black Americans in the courts and financial institutions are some examples of that subtle violence, he adds.

 

THAT is why societal change is badly needed. EVERYONE should have an income that they can live on, medicare, and access to decent housing, and to jobs.

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I have to agree that societal change seems much more important then any sort of monetary reparations. The horrible truth is, though slavery itself is in America's past, discrimination, poverty, and general struggles for black Americans is all still very current. I feel like it's kinda of... Dismissive?... To attempt to throw money around to 'make amends' for slavery while not addressing the problems society *still* has in those areas. It feels like they just want to be able to say 'we made up for that horrible thing, so everything is fine now', which is 100% not true. Of course I speak from a place of 'white privilege' and it really shouldn't be my call, but I think society in general will always benefit more from sweeping changes to society itself rather then empty gestures like that.

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Agreed. Societal changes definitely have more of an impact than reparations. However, society as a whole still has a long way to go.

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Given that economic deprivement and abuse have measurable intergenerational impact, yeah. Devising and implementing reparations sounds like hard but worthwhile work.

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If you implement the reparations thing, who is actually going to pay?

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Posted (edited)

The government. From tax revenues - which come from people who can afford to pay taxes, so shouldn't hit the horribly disadvantaged black Americans still among us.

 

The government profited form slavery; now they can pay back. Though I am still far more in favour of societal changes - also funded by taxes.

Edited by Fuzzbucket

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On 3/24/2019 at 3:19 PM, HeatherMarie said:

I have to agree that societal change seems much more important then any sort of monetary reparations. The horrible truth is, though slavery itself is in America's past, discrimination, poverty, and general struggles for black Americans is all still very current. I feel like it's kinda of... Dismissive?... To attempt to throw money around to 'make amends' for slavery while not addressing the problems society *still* has in those areas. It feels like they just want to be able to say 'we made up for that horrible thing, so everything is fine now', which is 100% not true. Of course I speak from a place of 'white privilege' and it really shouldn't be my call, but I think society in general will always benefit more from sweeping changes to society itself rather then empty gestures like that.

I think you have pretty much summed up what I feel.

Throwing money at the problem in the form of monetary reparations can't fix the problem. It may make some of us feel better but the problems that black Americans face every day aren't going to be fixed.

 

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It all comes back to that old phrase - "buying them off". Indefensible manipulation.

 

A LOT of money needs to be spent (from taxes, osmark, that's the kind of thing taxes are for) to better the conditions poor people in the US live in - and a disproportionate number of the poor in the US are black. That is a hangover from slavery.

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Posted (edited)

Giving lump sums of money to black people in America won't fix the systemic and institutionalized racism embedded in America's foundation that led to this inequality. It's a noble thought, but won't work, in my opinion. Fix the institutions, the wealth redistribution will follow.

Edited by purpledragonclaw

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Ok, a large number of Blacks in America had slavery in their family and many do not.  And while on a miniscule amount, some slave owners were even Black themselves.  Many of these first slaves were captured by Blacks in Africa who SOLD these prisoners to slaver's in the first place.  I also do not believe in paying today's Blacks for what their long ago relatives suffered.  

 

 My belief is that there should NOT be any reparations paid to Blacks, period.

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Some of my ancestors were Native American.  I certainly don't feel I deserve reparations.  I wasn't even alive.  Now, aid/law reforms to help people living on reservations today needs to happen, but that's another topic altogether.

 

But, no.  I don't believe race-specific reparations would do much of anything to help alleviate socioeconomic results of slavery.  Throwing money is not going to fix racism.  No matter what happens on the federal level, there will always be those backwards small towns where blatant racism is still actively enforced by local government.  The only feasible way I see anything working would be reformations to help bring up the wages and standard of living of the lower income brackets, for all races affected by poverty.  There are people of all skin colors in my town; some live in houses fancier than mine, some live in trailers.  Something like a lump sum of money to anyone who is black (or of another race but claims to be black on paper just to get in on the payout - yikes) is just going to cause a huge amount of tension and I don't foresee it solving the many real obstacles that face blacks in the US today.

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Posted (edited)

Alright. 

 

I'm going to start this off with two things:

 

1). Admittedly, this got more out of hand than I originally realized, and it is my fault for not reading through the entire thread (for whatever reason I only read the last few posts above my original and didn't realize it had been carrying on further) so I take responsibility for not intervening sooner. I apologize that this thread lock did not happen until now. This will be a formal thread warning to everyone involved that I must maintain polite discussion here. I understand this is a personal issue for a lot of people, and it can get charged very quickly-- therefore, I ask that if you find yourself getting too upset, please take time to yourself instead of engaging further. This is a thread about reparations for Black Americans, not racism itself (there is a separate thread for that). 

 

2). Just because you don't agree with me, does not make me any less a "real mod," and if you're referring to Sock-- she has said the same things as I did several times over the years. "Inept mess" is rather... curious, considering this forum has not had any issues for a long, long time. I made my post under the intention of joining a conversation, not reprimanding or "taking action" against anyone, because I have always believed in facilitating discussion over restricting it completely. But if we can't have a civil conversation, then I will stop it there as is my job to do so. 

 

 

Now. I spent a long time last night coming up with a response to a lot of the things said above, but ultimately I feel like I'm probably wasting my time and effort to do so, and going by my own warning I would continue to lead this thread off topic. So in the interests of attempting to put this thread back on course, I will refrain from adding in my own opinions at this time, and encourage anyone after myself to focus your responses to the topic at hand. Thank you. 

 

Edit: The aforementioned discussion has now been hidden. Any continuation of this will result in a warn. 

Edited by hazeh

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