The argument for and against slave reparations has been going on for many years. It was a subject of debate in my seventh grade social studies class. No one paid much attention to it and the issue disappeared. Until now. After publication of a book entitled The Debt and with the emergence of a lawyers’ group taking on blacks as “clients”, the subject has taken on a life of its’ own. A number of municipal councils have passed resolutions in favor of reparations. Although there have been great strides in race relations over the past thirty years a great deal of hostility remains.
The main reason why the reparations movement has gained ground is the fact that the American government had paid $25,000 and issued an apology to the survivors of the forced relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps during the Second World War. Since this was done for them them, it should also be done for the slaves’ descendents.
Paying reparations for slavery is absurd for the following reasons. Blacks would lose more than they would gain by obtaining compensation for slavery because they would become more isolated, even estranged, from American society than they are now. They would also face increased animosity and hostility from other minorities and recent immigrants who would feel that they were being forced pay for an even that they had nothing to do with. Besides no black family or individuals would receive a dime of this money, which would go to the lawyers and to the well connected. An example of this is the Bhopol Affair in India in the mid-eighties. In this case it was lawyers who had gotten the ball rolling, successfully suing Monsanto for the accident. But no word was given on how much of this settlement was given to the survivors or their families. Doesn’t this tell you something? With the appointment of the Bush Administration a more conservative society is becoming apparent. Reparations will certainly intensify the racial wariness now present. Most importantly blacks willing be selling their birthright. Their citizenship. Something that is more important than gold and more precious than water.
There is another way to resolve this situation. Instead of demanding compensation for slavery they should stop bitching and get on with life. The main thing for blacks to do is to focus their attention on fighting for their birthrights as Americans. Because this is what they are, no matter what name they give their crutches. The more they emphasize color the more frustrated, angry and isolated they will become. Money will not eliminate these feelings of inadequacy or inferiority that are wrapped like an albatross around the necks of black people.
However there are things that they can do to improve their lot. First they must inform their so-called community leaders (politicians and ministers) that they will no longer tolerate the graft and corruption that humiliates the entire race. Either they serve their constituents and congregations or they will be removed. With one voice they must demand enforcement of all civil rights laws, especially affirmative action.
There is only one way that slave reparations would be valid. Should right wing conservatism succeed in abolishing the gains made by blacks over the past thirty years, then reparations should definitely be on the table. Except for those blacks that aren’t averse to being returned to the “good old days” of semi-slavery, no black person worth anything would put up with the situation prior to 1965. If this does happen any black family or individual should be paid compensation and given transport to any country that they choose. Let this country be warned. Blacks will no longer tolerate such abuse. As for this Black American my birthright is not for sale. Nor is my humanity.