Reparations – one example, as defined by Merriam-Webster online Dictionary:
“the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury”
Let’s apply the above definition to slavery in Colonial America and later, the United States:
- amends, expiation and satisfaction – How do we as a nation, seek forgiveness, offer compensation, or right a wrong?
- victims – The victims of slavery have passed on, just like their “masters.” The 13th amendment was ratified in 1865, thus formally ending slavery. That would mean that a former slave would have to be at least 154 years old.
- descendant eligibility – Even if we believe that compensation of some kind is due to a relative of a former slave, which living relative(s) gets the money or benefits?
- amount – How much money would help remove the cruelty of the past? Is there any amount that could accomplish that goal?
- other races – What about payments to Native Americans? Chinese laborers who were kidnapped and brought to America? Hispanics, for the way some have been treated?
Unfortunately, I have a difficult time finding answers to the above questions. While money would be helpful to anyone it doesn’t erase the past. Considering our Federal Bureaucracy, can you imagine how difficult it would be to implement reparations and make sure at least one relative of every former slave was compensated? Look at how the government has messed up Stimulus Checks!
As helpful as reparations would be financially, no amount of money would erase the pain . If money could solve all of our problems…but it can’t. The colonists and later American Citizens destroyed a great number of the Native Americans. Some held Black slaves. Other’s discriminated against Hispanics and Asians.
If our Federal Government paid reparations to the families of former slaves, would it end affirmative action, Black colleges, the Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and so forth? In other words, would a majority of African-Americans believe that there would be no more discrimination and hate? Would it be possible that people of other races would feel discriminated against? Would this bring us all together or further divide our country?
There are many questions to be carefully answered. However, money doesn’t change the heart.
Image from: https://www.nbc12.com/