Grassroots Perspective

Reparations Decoded

Can "40 acres and a mule" solve black America's problems today? Not a chance.

Patrick Hampton · Mar. 18, 2019

The discussion surrounding reparations for slavery has resurfaced in advance of the 2020 presidential race. And while it appears as if most Democrats are aligned with the idea of compensation to black descendants of slaves, not a single person has been able to present a concrete definition of what reparations mean, how money will be distributed, or other parameters that would ensure these funds would reach the intended recipients.

The idea of reparations shouldn’t be new to anyone. Germany paid Holocaust survivors in the billions of dollars. Under President Ronald Reagan’s administration, thousands of Japanese people who were kept in internment camps during WWII received $20,000 each.

But how does one translate the “40 acres and a mule” that some say is owed to black American descendants of slavery into practical economic terms today?

Democrats are toying around and teasing black Americans with the idea that they might be repaid for the hardships of slavery. But if these presidential hopefuls are serious, where is their plan?

Say President Trump signs legislation that would make black descendants of slavery entitled to a stipend of $2,500 each. At first glance, leftists would be outraged, stating that this amount is insulting. At the very least, they’d vouch for significant adjustments to accommodate for the vast differences in standards of living across the U.S. By this logic, a black person living in California would need to receive double the amount of a person in Mississippi to be “economically fair.”

But then who pays? It wasn’t just white colonizers who benefitted from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. With any transaction, there must be at minimum two parties, so would West African nations be obligated to drop their coin in the reparations pot?

But then what does it mean to qualify for reparations compensation at all? Is it enough to have a “B” on your birth certificate, or would costly DNA testing come into play? If all that’s required is to prove a hint of blackness, then the infamous “one-drop rule” would hold even greater significance and could potentially be exploited. There would suddenly be a lot more people identifying as “African American.”

And even if DNA test results prove that a person is indeed of African descent, how should one prove that they are indeed a black African descendant of ancestors who were enslaved? For many black Americans, the branches of their family trees are broken, leaving them with no clues to identify slaves other than a family surname.

Hypotheticals aside, if the American government were to sign a reparations act into law, no amount of money will remedy the rampant problems plaguing black communities across the nation.

As well-meaning as a reparation’s settlement might be, money can’t buy fathers.

Money won’t cure toxic cultural norms, such as lewd hip-hop and rap music that degrades women and encourages beta masculinity.

Money alone can’t teach black families how to build wealth for future generations.

Money can’t heal the scars created by the welfare state.

It’s clear to me that Democrats are dangling the issue of reparations in our faces, hoping that the black voting bloc that they’ve exploited for far too long will jump up to take the bait. These presidential hopefuls will take this issue and run their campaigns with it, only to forget it even existed — at least until 2024.

It appears that Left would, in theory, use bribery cloaked under the guise of reparations to maintain the loyalty of black voters — even though our government has had decades to resolve this “unkept promise” if they truly wanted to. Clinton didn’t do it. Obama — our nation’s first black president — didn’t do it. There seems to be a track record of promises unkept within the Democrat Party, and to expect them to come through in 2020 would be horribly naive. Worse, I fear that the risk of exploitation would dig the African American community deeper into the problems we continue to face.

So instead of focusing on reparations, let’s examine a future for black Americans that would be more valuable than any big check in the mail. I’m talking safer communities, less crime, stronger families, and equal opportunities to achieve the American dream — this would be priceless.

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