Reparations revisited

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

In many cases in American and world history, people who have been grossly mistreated because of heinous injurious actions by the government have been compensated. These compensations for wrongdoing are called reparations. When you revisited those who have received reparations such as the Jews, the American Indians, the American Japanese, and recently the African American farmers, you cannot help but wonder why African Americans have not received reparations for hundreds of years of slavery.

Surely if America is truly interested in righting a horrendous wrong and leveling the economical playing field for African Americans, they must offer reparations to the descendants of African American slaves. It is only fair when you acknowledge the social, political, educational, economic and psychological damage done to African Americans that is still playing out today. The damage done is monumental and can readily be seen—especially in the disproportionate distribution of wealth in this country. The vestiges of this abuse and discrimination are still embedded systemically in the fiber of our country in every venue.

It is easy for White America to demean and belittle Africans Americans for lack of progress when they have played such a crucial role in negating or stifling our progress. In fact, there are many big White-run family businesses operating today from old money originally funded with profits from involvement in slavery. One must understand that the slave owners and businesses profiting from slaves have descendants and heirs benefiting from their nefarious interactions in slavery. They profit financially, even today. It is easy to grow financially when you originally profited from free labor.

But one must not only note the abuse of slavery but the dehumanizing efforts of discrimination manifested to strip African Americans as human beings as well as American citizens. There can be no other group in America more than the descendants of slaves legitimately qualifying to be compensated. It is inexcusable and insulting to descendants of African American slaves if their forefathers’ blood, toil and sweat as free labor goes unrewarded. African Americans and those interested in correcting a wrong are only asking that America do what is morally right in moving forward advocating for correction and compensation for wrongdoing.

We must be vigilant, especially with those affluent African American being used as puppets to try to offset the need for reparations. Sometimes you have those who cannot empathize with those less fortunate when their plates are overflowing. We must not be sidetracked into believing that it is financially impossible to offer reparations when it has been done time and time again.

The hardest part of offering reparations will be deciding the distribution of reparations. Will it be done by offering land, businesses, educational opportunities, or just per se money to descendants of slaves?

I personally feel that Africans Americans who have attended college or are now attending have their college debt retired. The window for free college for African Americans should be open for the next 30 years.

Of course, this is only a suggestion that I feel is workable. Regardless of the type of reparation African Americans may receive, we cannot trivialize the worth of African American slaves and not demand compensation for hundreds of years of free labor, exploitation, and blatant discrimination. We owe them that much.