You don't have to worry about reparations. This is merely an
intellectual exercise. Everybody knows black people will NEVER be
compensated for what happened to them. Everybody knows that white
people can barely talk about the legacy of slavery, do not, in the
majority, understand its true implications and nearly always, whenever
anyone brings it up, tell black people they are living in the past and
they should just forget about all that. Tsk, tsk. We've got a black
president now, we've come a long way, my family wasn't even in the
country when that happened, etc., etc.. So, don't worry, Nico,
reparations are not really on the table.
I appreciate articles like this because I think it's important to at
least TALK about what happened. Let's have some truth and
reconciliation. What's more to your point, I would say that the issues
of inequality in the United States are deeply rooted in slavery and the
re-enslavement of black people during the so-called Jim Crow era. It
was necessary to create a discourse justifying slavery in a country
whose framers declared 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that
all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the
Pursuit of Happiness' (Such beautiful, eloquent words, such an
incredibly radical idea worthy of pursuit!) That discourse was racism.
Racism and fear that black people are going to come and take yours-which
is kind of the vibe that I'm picking up from your post, although that's
probably not what you meant- has been used as a wedge again and again.
The social safety net has been dismantled because of that kind of
propositional framing. Remember the strapping young bucks buying steaks
on welfare money conjured by Reagan? - well his speechwriters, at
least. It seemed that this was something that only affected black
people but in the end it was all of us. And so this is American
history. We might not like to look at it because it embarrasses us, but
damn, I never thought about how slavery underpinned so many things.
Medical science? That's kind of like the guy doing those experiments in
the Nazi camps. It's awful to think that human beings were sacrificed
this way and do we continue to do this today because somehow we've got
it in our heads even at a level that we may not be aware of because it's
so ingrained, that some folks just aren't folks? (Trayvon, Rashinda,
Jordan) I'd like to know about that, I think it's important and of
course people look at that horrible wrong and think money can make up
for that (and people at root, I think, are afraid that blacks are going
to come and take it all away from us!) but I really don't think it can.
It was too big, too horrible. But at least we can talk about how we're
all the white chick sitting pretty on that black chick's back in that
photo that made everybody so uncomfortable (it was printed out of
context and people really misunderstood what the artist was trying to
say). Maybe we're not so exceptional and other people are not so
horrible and we should talk about better policies for everyone, like you
say, but not expect black people to live with white people's cognitive
dissonance and pretend that slavery has no legacy.