A Seattle-based black artist has created a website to facilitate the paying of reparations by white people to people of color. Thank goodness! So many of us rascally whites have really been looking for a way to assuage our “white guilt” by giving our hard-earned stuff to blacks [in case you’re wondering, that was sarcasm].
She offers some examples of how a white can give back to blacks to relieve the immense, overwhelming agony of white guilt they feel. For example, she offers:
“I invite People of Color to ask for what we need to feel better, be happier, be more productive by posting in this space. These may be both material and immaterial requests,” she wrote. [immaterial?]
“I invite people who identify as White to offer services or contributions to People of Color in need of time, energy, substantive care, and support.”
I can only speak for myself, but I must confess that I harbor no white guilt.
I had nothing to do with the trials and tribulations suffered by any black person back in the days of slavery. I wasn’t alive then, neither were my parents, nor my parent’s parents and as far as I know, based on my son’s genealogical studies, my great, great grandparents didn’t own any slaves either, they immigrated from France.
In other words, neither I nor my parentage played any part in slavery and most assuredly, none of the problems faced today by people of color can be attributed to my family. So, I won’t be offering to pay for anyone’s college tuition or to buy a new suit for a job interview.
Ever since the end of the Civil War, blacks have been trying to get reparations for the free labor that was rendered during the 245 years of slavery and later institutional racism.
It seems to me that the descendants of slaves ought to think themselves lucky that they were brought to a free country. Their standard of living now, even if they’re living in poverty here in the U.S., could be worse. They could be back in their country of origin living in mud huts.
I’m aware that that statement will be crucified by some people of color, who will immediately label it as monumentally racist, but there is valid reason to consider it. Perhaps a truly fair reparation would be to trace an individual’s ancestry and if a search finds that a not-too-distant relation was a slave, continue to trace the slave’s origin to his/her homeland and pay the “slave” an amount that it would take to bring them up to an average standard of living in their country and area of origin, and a free ticket back (if they wish). That seems like fair restitution for a lapse in economic progress while the person’s ancestor was away from the home country.
Think that anyone would take me up on that?
No, no one would take that offer. The whole concept of reparations is one of extracting free money, without effort, from the government (i.e., taxpayers) – period.
Can you imagine the flood of applications for reparations that would deluge an entity set up to accept them from people who believe that they were descended from slaves? Pretty much every African-American on U.S. soil would likely be applying.
For example, what’s been called the “Pigford” settlement refers to monies paid to black farmers who had applied for loans from the USDA but were turned down (ostensibly due to racism). When the government agreed to pay African American farmers $50,000 each, over 92,000 applied for the funds – fully five times the number of blacks who were actually farming then.
In other words, reparations are seen as a “pot o’gold” at the end of an American rainbow.
But there are some inconvenient facts that muddy the waters for those “descendants of slaves” and the mistreatment of them. [source: Michael Medved].
- Slavery was an ancient and universal institution, not a distinctively American innovation.
- Slavery existed only briefly, and in limited locals, in the history of the republic – involving only a tiny percentage of the ancestors of today’s Americans.
- Though brutal, slavery wasn’t genocidal; live slaves were valuable, but dead captives brought no profit.
- It’s not true that the U.S. became a wealthy nation through the abuse of slave labor; the most prosperous states in the country were those that first freed their slaves.
- While America deserves no unique blame for the existence of slavery, the United States merits special credit for its rapid abolition.
- There is no reason to believe that today’s African-Americans would be better off if their ancestors had remained in Africa.
And, Mr. Medved closes with:
“In theory, reparationists want society to repair the wrongs of the past by putting today’s African-Americans into the sort of situation they would have enjoyed if their forebears hadn’t been kidnapped, sold and transported across the ocean. Unfortunately, to bring American blacks in line with their cousins who the slave-traders left behind in Africa would require a drastic reduction in their wealth, living standards, and economic and political opportunities. No honest observer can deny or dismiss this nation’s long record of racism and injustice, but it’s also obvious that Americans of African descent enjoy vastly greater wealth and human rights of every variety than the citizens of any nation of the Mother Continent. If we sought to erase the impact of slavery on specific black families, we would need to obliterate the spectacular economic progress made by those families (and by US citizens in general) over the last 100 years.”
Of course, today we believe that slavery is wrong (though it’s still practiced in some countries), but in the context of the time, it was a natural, if inhumane, part of operating farms and plantations. Society has evolved and if nothing else proves it, we are suffering through the final days of a black president, elected by over 43% of white voters. African-Americans have come a long way, and though black racists refuse to admit it, have made great strides towards equality in America.
As far as people of color go: respect and opportunity = yes, reparations = no.