As we ominously trudge towards the next United States presidential election in 2020, there’s growing momentum calling for reparations for those whose ancestors were slaves when this country was in its infancy. Recently, I’ve read numerous fact/opinion pieces largely favoring these reparations. However, I’ve come across very little questioning the legitimacy of these reparations.
I believe little has been said against the matter largely because of what we’ve become as a society. It seems nowadays if you are not for something then you automatically an “-ist”. In this case, if a person is not in favor of reparations, then “clearly” they are racist. No one wants to take that chance, so no one challenges this absurd idea. Personally I disagree with this mentality…just like I disagree with the idea of reparations for those whose ancestors were slaves.
Normally I take great pains to identify/source my resources. However in this particular post I simply want to write freely. So consider this an opinion piece. In addition, as a white middle aged male I understand I’m the face of the enemy for everything that is wrong in today’s world. Because I’m white, I’m a racist. Because I’m middle aged, I’m an ageist. I have a penis…therefore I’m “clearly” sexist. I’m none of these…but what I am unabashed about is I do not believe in political correctness. So, if my opinion offends anyone reading this…good. Instead of taking the time to tell me how much of an “-ist” I am, put your angst to good use and take the time to become more educated on current socio-economic issues. And by take the time, I mean read more than just one Facebook post before considering yourself learned.
Seemingly, the two biggest questions regarding reparations is who’s going to get paid and who’s going to pay for it. The answers I’ve come across have been pretty diverse. On one end of the spectrum, I’ve read anyone who identifies as “Black” should get paid. At the other end of the rainbow, only those that can prove through documentation that an ancestor was a slave should receive reparations. Neither one of these are practical. One should not get paid just simply because they exist. On the other hand, documentation as proof would be very difficult if not almost impossible simply because documentation was/is lacking or the documentation would not be accurate enough for proof.
When it comes to who’s going to pay for it, I’ve come across some pretty interesting thoughts…interesting both on an asinine level and well thought out. The most asinine of them all is the proposal that all “Whites” should have to pay a “slavery tax” that would in turn be used for reparation payment. I’ve also read that reparations should come from the federal government, paid for by federal income tax dollars. One proposal that leans more towards the interesting side of the spectrum is that businesses should have to pay something akin to a “slavery tax” that would in turn be used for payment. The one that was most interesting to me, at least, is the Federal Government would set up a special fund based upon the original compensation promised to freed slaves but adjusted to today’s monetary standards. It was lost on me where the monies would come from for the fund. However, I found this proposal the most interesting largely because someone put a lot of time and thought into it. In addition, it’s the only proposal I’ve read thus far that actually quantifies how much a person would receive.
Regardless of how asinine or well thought out any of these proposals are, I find the idea of reparations to be absolute rubbish for a number of reasons. Firstly…no one is a slave in this country today. Slavery was an acceptable and legal socioeconomic/business practice back in the day. That is not the case today. No one is chained, beaten, raped, murdered, or ripped from the arms of their family in the name of today’s legal business practices. American citizens are, by law, considered to be a person/human being and not property to be sold. All citizens can vote and all citizens that choose to work are paid for their work. I’m not saying all are paid fairly. I’m merely pointing out that no one is forced to legally work for free in today’s day and age.
No one in today’s day and age has personally experienced the injustices of slavery. This means they would receive reparations based upon the injustices that slaves of generations ago were forced to endure. This means they would get paid merely because they exist, having suffered zero slavery based injustices what so ever. Why should they deserve that?
My next issue with the idea of slave reparations is the fact that not all Whites owned slaves. To be more accurate, “Rich Whites” owned slaves. This means only a small percentage of Whites were slave owners. This is why I take umbrage with the idea of a “slavery tax” in any way shape and form. Being White, why should I have to pay a tax when I had absolutely no hand whatsoever in slavery. Why should my tax dollars go towards reparations when I never owned a slave? Why should a business today, which wasn’t even in existence during the times of slavery, be forced to pay a tax to fund reparations? So men along the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, and Jeff Bezos should be forced to pay for the injustices committed by the Rich Whites before them? Again, this just doesn’t make sense.
My last issue, which is more on a personal level, is not only was it just a small percentage of Whites that owned slaves, I can say for certainly that my White family never owned slaves. Before my Dad died, he extensively researched our family history. What he and we learned was that like many Whites in this country, my family processed through Ellis Island. Regardless of when they processed, Ellis Island opened in 1892…27 years after the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery was passed/ratified. Not only that, my Dad’s research revealed that while our family didn’t toil in “Massa’s” fields, they sure as hell toiled in Massa’s factories. This was well before OSHA and child labor laws. Working conditions were dangerous and there was no such thing as worker’s compensation if someone got hurt. Yet I don’t hear anyone talking about reparations in the name of my Irish and German ancestors.
At the end of the day, the idea of reparations for those whose ancestors were slaves when this country was in its infancy is absolute rubbish. It’s nothing more than a political ploy by unscrupulous politicians to one-up their opponents and win over voters. In fact, if I were a member of the Black community, I would be pissed that someone is trivializing the suffering of my ancestors for their own political motivations. Yet, nothing is heard about this “injustice”…which I think says much about today’s Black community.