The idea of giving Black Americans reparations for slavery is not a new political pitch in America. For decades, it's mostly been an idea debated outside the mainstream of American political thought. Still, with 2020's intense race riots in the months preceding the Presidential election, both politicians and private citizens alike have renewed the push for reparations to be implemented.
Slave reparations for Black Americans was put on the table during the Democratic primary debate back in 2019. While the proposal for reparations is a serious matter that would have severe economic consequences if implemented, I believe that this pitch is nothing more than another attempt by Democrats to secure the Black vote.
Democrats' support of reparations for slavery, in turn, secures them the Black vote, much in the same way that praising Black Lives Matter does. These politicians are also quick to jump off the bandwagon as soon as an election cycle is over. Police brutality, injustice, and other race-related buzz words stop popping out of their mouths when such matters are no longer useful tools in their race for political power.
The Biden Administration's answer to calls for slave reparations is less than satisfactory to Americans who want them to become a reality. The Biden administration most recently revamped the plan to feature abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. While many see this as a positive change, many others have expressed that it‘s not what they had in mind regarding “racial equality.” According to a new Gallup poll, just 29% favor cash payments to Black Americans descended from slaves.
I fail to see how reparations for slavery would do anything to help the Black community, let alone how is this argument up for debate in 2021 in the first place. I'm opposed to such a policy.
As a White southerner whose entire family has lived in the South since they first set foot on American soil, I have been lectured on "not being allowed" to have a say in this matter. I strongly disagree; anyone, regardless of race, gender, etc., should have a voice when it comes to this argument.
I‘m tired of seeing Americans tell other Americans what political issues they are "allowed" to discuss.
Besides, if I‘m going to be one of the many White Americans that's going to foot the bill for these reparations, then you'd better believe I won't stay silent.
A plan for reparation payments over slavery is so unsound that I can't grasp it. How does a government check erase hundreds of years of slavery?
First of all, there is the issue of who would be eligible to receive reparations? Would this include Americans who are one-eighth Black? What about mixed-race Americans? Would this only apply to Black Americans who can prove that they’re the descendants of slaves, or would it also apply to Black Americans who can't provide evidence of their ancestry? Every race in history has owned slaves, so will reparations only be applied to Black Americans?
Then there's the issue of who is responsible for paying these reparations. Some argue that this is the government's responsibility, while others say that White Americans should be held financially accountable. Which White Americans? Just those who are the descendants of slave owners, or does this also include those who aren’t? Will White Americans whose families immigrated here post-emancipation be expected to finance this plan?
White Americans shouldn't have to be in debt for a sin that is not of their own but instead of their long-dead relatives. Neither party existed during the time that the practice of slavery was taking place, so neither can be victim nor beneficiary to it.
As I stated before, my entire family has lived in the South since they came to this nation. It should come as no surprise that some of my ancestors were slave owners and Confederate soldiers. There is an expectation from those on the other side of this reparations debate that I should carry immense guilt and self-loathing over that historical reality, but that doesn't exist within me. I see no reason why I should feel guilty or responsible for my ancestors actions. I was born in 1997. It has nothing to do with me.
Nevertheless, people advocating for reparations will vilify people like myself because they claim White Americans "benefit from the generational wealth accumulated as a result of slave-owning."
In reality, most of my ancestors were not slave owners. They were mostly poor farmers living in Georgia and Florida. I don't know where this myth originates from, that every southerner's ancestors lived lavishly in white mansions filled with expensive tea sets and threw fancy balls every week as if we descend exclusively from the Scarlett O'Haras and Rhett Butlers of the era.
In reality, those who did live that way were the minority. Life for most southerners was far less glamorous, especially after Reconstruction began.
My mother is the first person from her mother's side of the family that didn't have to farm to make a living. My grandmother, on the other hand, was much less fortunate than my mother. She wore a feed sack as a dress and had to stuff cardboard in her worn-out shoes. After long hours of picking cotton and crops to put food on the table, she went to a home with no heat, air conditioning, electricity, or plumbing.
If there was "generational wealth" in the family from slave-owning ancestors, my grandmother certainly didn't see it. If it existed, I don't know where it went.
Furthermore, I don't understand why any Black American today believes they are entitled to reparations. I personally find it insulting to the lives and legacy of those who suffered under the cruel practice of slavery (which, I might add, still exists today).
Every race in history has owned slaves. I suppose it's only fair; then, that I demand reparations from England over the terrible ways they treated my ancestors in Scotland and Ireland -even though that was hundreds of years ago and has had no direct impact on my life.
No Black American alive today has been directly impacted by slavery, either, I fail to understand what these reparations are intended to make up for.
It seems that the main argument for reparations is that it will erase racial inequality that exists due to "systemic racism." Proponents of reparations believe that injecting money into the Black community would end issues such as income inequality, housing inequality, educational inequality, etc.
However, what would money do for those individuals who choose not to put it to fair use? While there are plenty of individuals who would use a government handout wisely, there's also a small few who have made a career living off the government and have no desire to improve their lives through hard work.
Furthermore, there is a significant portion of Black Americans that have drug addictions. What life improvements can we expect to see out of an individual who has a severe drug problem? An individual that is frequently in and out of jail? What can we infer that they might do with a large quantity of money upon obtaining it?
Have proponents of reparations even considered how much it would cost to give millions of Black Americans enough money to get a college degree or buy a house in a better part of town? The cost of reparations would devastate the economy if implemented.
Another vital factor to consider in this argument is what message the implementation of reparations would send to young Black children. Insinuating that Black Americans can’t be successful without the government's assistance is belittling. Ingraining such a toxic concept into a young child's mind would undoubtedly poison them with a crippling victim complex mentality. We can’t expect our children to go far in life if we raise them to be victims of their ancestry.
Overall, the entire concept of slave reparations in the twenty-first century is entirely absurd. Arguments in favor of reparations lack any form of logical thought and fail to consider many of this conversation’s numerous aspects.
There is absolutely no reason Black Americans today should receive reparations for atrocities that they didn't go through. The conversation does not need to go beyond that.
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About the Author:
Erin Fitzgerald Adair is a political commentator known as @Always.Right on Instagram. She attended college for Political Science and History, formerly hosted a weekly podcast, and recently worked on a congressional campaign. Erin is a “Cav Kid” from Georgia who now splits her time between there and Florida. She is passionate about advocating for gun rights, free speech, and our constitutional liberties while speaking out against abortion, censorship, and cultural marxism.