Reparations are a Hot Topic Again
Reparations are once again a hot topic for the African American community in the United States. For much of the 150 years since the official end of slavery in the United States, talk of the need for reparations has existed. In 2019, that discussion has become a full-blown political debate among politicians, presidential candidates, and academics over what it would look like to apologize and provide restitution to the people harmed by slavery and its legacy.
In January, Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced House Bill HR40 which was first brought to congress by Representative John Conyers. This legislation calls for a formal study of reparations for African Americans. While the idea of reparations for America’s original sin is indeed admirable, does it satisfy the true pain that is still being inflicted on African Americans everyday in America?
While a “refund” check from the government acknowledging the harm slavery caused generations of African Americans would be nice, it is a short term, short sighted solution for a long term problem. Acknowledging America’s original sin of slavery as well as providing a lump monetary payment to African Americans as a reparation for that sin does not make us equal. Acknowledging that slavery was indeed wrong is not going to stop the killing of unarmed black men, it’s not going to close the pay gap between Whites and Blacks, it’s not going to stop the devaluation of our communities and gentrification, and it definitely won’t curtail the disproportionate numbers of blacks incarcerated as compared to whites.
Why are we talking about reparations when lawmakers have an opportunity everyday to enact laws and policies that would make us equal and level the playing field?
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