Now we are talking about reparations? Why now? Americans elected our first black president, gave him full control over both houses of Congress and high support from the press. Why didn’t Obama fight for reparations as president?
It’s the same reason Democrats don’t really fight for DACA – they only want to use the issue. It is their technique to paint Republicans as anti-black. If Congress were to ask for reparations, it would really be great to see Trump out-Trump them again as he did on DACA. He should ask them to propose a bill for him to consider. This would panic them, because their playbook requires us to only argue and defend ourselves, never really considering the issue.
Let’s ask our Democrats for a proposal. Let’s see how they will pay for it and make them tell us who will get the money. Black leaders who are trumpeting these calls for reparations were quiet under Obama, so they should remain quiet today.
Have you had enough, folks? Talk shows, call-in programs and the print media push the old dream that would not go away: Reparations! “Give me my 40 acres and a mule! I can’t go on with my life until you have made me whole.” Has anyone really taken a good long look at what black people are asking for and what we are saying about ourselves?
Shortly after the Civil War, slaves were prosperous and achieving great things. There were black people in Congress and even a lieutenant governor of the state of Louisiana. Black people taught themselves to read and write and began businesses and purchased farms. Schools opened everywhere as black people leaped ahead without waiting for permission or help from anyone.
This talk of reparations gives the impression that we are in need of assistance. But are we? Black people took their civil rights in the ’60s and went to school and into business in the ’70s. The ’80s gave us the greatest economic expansion this country had ever known, and for the first time, black people were in position to take advantage of it. During the ’80s those black Americans that attended college and entered into business now expanded their economic positions. The number of black people making over $50,000 per year, first-time homeowners, new business owners and the number of black people entering college were at record numbers.
Progress didn’t stop with the ’90s, despite the hard economic times we were supposed to be in. Top-10 black businesses in the United States showed a 13.9 percent increase in sales for 1993. That tripled the percentage of the Fortune 500 companies.
Everywhere you look, the black community is prospering in spite of our problems. So why spend all of this time and energy calling for reparations? With nearly 75 percent of black people living above the poverty level, shouldn’t we concentrate on what is already working instead of what is impractical?
I just don’t believe those calling for reparations have clearly thought out how it would be implemented. I have interviewed and discussed this with the proponents, and no one can tell me how it would work. Let us imagine Congress enacts a bill tomorrow apologizing for slavery and authorizing every black descendant of slaves to receive “X” amount of money.
All of a sudden the 38 million black Americans would swell to 60 million. Everyone with any trace of black blood in them will claim to be eligible for the reparations. Everyone whose ancestors from five or six generations ago that could have been black would be in line for their money.
Also, how would you determine if some black Americans were descendants of Africans that migrated to America after slavery or those that were here free and were never slaves? What about the descendants of slaves now living in the marooned societies in Brazil that escaped during slavery – would they be included? The descendants in Liberia and the Ivory Coast, which fled back to Africa, surely would be included in any payment scheme.
If the government gave black people reparations, would we be required to repay any welfare payments, food stamps, free medical treatment and other government assistance? Would we need to repay the cost of education received under Affirmative Action programs and Head Start? Would black people get a bill for all the job training and placements given to “low-income, disadvantage youth”? If we are going to say reparations is a “payback” for all we have suffered, then all of the other programs we received during the ’60s and ’70s need to be paid back as well. The Japanese internment victims received no special assistance except the reparation payments; therefore, we should be required to repay all of the other special benefits designed to alleviate the legacy of slavery.
There are too many variables making this far too complicated to work, and it’s therefore a waste of time and energy. Let us get on with what works: education, competition, dedication, morality, family and faith. These are the principles that freed us and prospered us. Now we, black Americans, are the greatest group of black people on this planet. This proposal simply will never happen, and if it does, it would benefit very few of us.
It seems like the black community is listening to the voice of those saying what we can’t do and what is owed to us. Of course, these are the same people that administer the programs that have failed us. They advocate victimization and helplessness because they earn their money off our pain. When will the black community understand that real prosperity, equal rights and independence come from self-reliance and determination. You can always earn more that you are given.
Mason Weaver is a motivational speaker and author of “It’s OK to Leave the Plantation.”