Everybody But Us: Objections to Black Reparations


Morris Griffin holds up a sign during a meeting by the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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FILE – In this Aug. 28, 2020, file photo, demonstrators gather near the Lincoln Memorial as final preparations are made for the March on Washington, in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Several years since its founding, BLM has evolved well beyond the initial aspirations of its early supporters. Now, its influence faces a test, as voters in the Tuesday, Nov. 3 general election choose or reject candidates who endorsed or denounced the BLM movement amid a national reckoning on race (Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Everybody loves Black culture when it comes to entertainment, but when it’s time to talk Black—as in, people receiving reparations from slavery—that love transforms into a high-tower brick wall.

The YOU Problem

In late 2022, the Pew Research Center found that eighteen percent of white Americans said “Yes” to reparations for African Americans whose descendants were enslaved, and eighty-two percent said “No.” Now, it isn’t so much that this statistic is a shock, but the standard excuse has definitely grown stale. You know, that old white fragility statement, “I, myself, never enslaved anybody, so why do I have to pay my hard-earned taxes for something I didn’t do?!!” Well, it’s not a moral truth but a technical one because of the legal abolishment of slavery on December 6, 1865 (six or seven months later if you lived in Texas).

Free Money

Joe Feagin brought the historical receipts. According to “A Legal and Moral Basis for Reparations,” his article for TIME, “From the 1700s to the mid-1800s, white families and communities were enriched directly, or by means of economic multiplier effects, by slave plantations and related economic enterprises.” Feagin also states that economist James Markett once estimated“the labor stolen from enslaved African Americans from 1790 to 1860 was worth in range of $2.1 to $4.7 trillion (in 1983 dollars).”

Now, that’s a trillion dollars—with a capital T, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist nor a menthol smoker to know that’s a lot of money. That generational, blue-eyed wealth created privileges for all future white non-slave-owners.

No Bet on Black

FILE – A crowd listens to speakers at a reparations rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco on March 14, 2023. Economists for a California reparations task force estimate the state owes Black residents at least $800 billion for harms in policing, housing and health. The preliminary estimate will be discussed at the Wednesday, March 29, 2023, meeting of the state reparations task force. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

White Americans are not alone in their anti-stance; the Pew Research Center also states that fifty-eight percent of Hispanics and sixty-five percent of Asians are against reparations for Black Americans. In the Washington Post article “An Obstacle to Black Reparations in California: Convincing Latinos and Asians” by Emmanuel Felton, Rachel Hatzipanagos, and Scott Wilson, the authors quote Ed Siu, president of Chinatown Merchants United Association of San Francisco, “We’ve had support from the different races, but we never asked for money.” Mr. Siu must think of Black people being incredibly gentle to only “ask” for a reparations check after birthing the United States with four-hundred-plus years of free labor worth over a trillion dollars.

The same article mentions how the state of California “deported thousands of Mexican American citizens during the 1930s Great Depression.” One would assume that the descendants of forced deportation would be more empathetic to the cause.

Cool for You, Not Cool for Me

Black Americans’ historical fight for freedom, equality, and equity in the U.S. has created a benefits package for all other marginalized people. The mere idea of reparations was initially stated as Forty Acres and a Mule, only later to be robbed like a daytime thief by President Andrew Johnson. For generations, Black Americans watched others receive reparations like The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which offered $20,000 each to Japanese American survivors of Japanese internment.

Ally or Nah?

Blackness is often commercially profited, while the concerns of its people remain largely ignored. It’s amazing how oppressed groups who used Black platforms like the March on Washington 60th Anniversary to speak about their issues can simultaneously oppose overdue compensation for Black people.

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