Although more than a century has passed since the government abolished slavery, still its effects are evident in the contemporary America, because of the demand from a section of the American society to give reparations to blacks for the atrocities their ancestors suffered.
Slavery was a practice that was allowed by the law of the historical southern United States, from the time that the Britons colonized America in the 17th century, until the time of the civil war of 1861-1865, when the practice started diminishing. Although most black slaves suffered under the hands of their white masters, they played a crucial role of making the U.S. to be what it is today, because of their active role in the building of major U.S. cities, and even the white house.
Due to the extreme suffering that the black slaves went through, and the fact that, the U.S. government took a very long time to apologize to the Black community; there has been numerous campaigns to compensate the surviving families of victims of slavery. Generally, reparations campaigns are majorly based on the assumption that, the nonblack taxpayers should pay the blacks a certain amount of compensations, them being the primary heirs of the wealth that their ancestors acquired during slavery.
Yes, no one can deny that black slaves suffered under the tyrannical rule of their white masters, and it is purely wrong that the U.S. government took a very long time to apologize and offer help to then slaves, to ease their suffering. However, why should the present white taxpayers pay for the atrocities committed by their ancestors, some of whom they do not even know? Further, the present America is a mixed race society; hence, tracing the descendants of the black slaves is very challenging activity.
On the other hand, it will be so unfair to impose the burden of paying reparations to one section of the American society, while forgetting that, its only small portion of the historical whites who had slaves; hence, what of those families that never had slaves. (Olson Para. 2-14) Considering these, although every individual acknowledges that slavery made many Blacks to suffer, the government should not offer any reparations to African-Americans, to compensate for the suffering “their” ancestors suffered.
Frankly speaking, most activities of slavery were morally degrading, violated numerous human rights, and caused extreme suffering to the slaves. Therefore, to some extent the claim of paying some reparations to the surviving families of African-American ancestors is correct. However, one thing that most proponents of the Reparation campaign forget is that, slavery was a historical activity that was lawful, and majority of those who the tyrannical treatment of white masters are survived by families of mixed races (whites included).
Therefore, one critical question that most proponents have failed to provide solutions to is; who will the government compensate for the suffering of the historical black community. Historically, not all whites promoted the practice, as there was a group of whites who opposed the practice, for example, the Abolitionists and the Union Army members. Most members of these two groups also suffered under the tyrannical rule of the white masters.
Hence, it will be so unfair to make their generation pay for a practice that their ancestors struggled and lost their lives fighting to be abolished. On the other hand, one thing that most proponents of reparation assume is that, it is only the blacks who lost their lands; hence, the tendency of most of them proposing that, the government should give African-American tracks of lands as compensation.
In making this assumption, most supporters of reparation tend to forge that, the historical slavery injustices were also done to whites, more so those who lived in the fertile Southeastern sections of the colonial U.S. Considering this, allocating some portions of land, will be like repeating what the white oppressors did during the slavery period, because some white families resettled ion their ancestry land.
Further, it is important fro individual to note that, some perpetrators of the practice were blacks themselves (more so the freed slaves) after the civil war; hence, paying a certain portion of the American society will mean that, the government is paying those who promoted the practice, rather than the real suffers (Horowitz 1-2).
In addition to difficulties of identifying the real sufferers of the slavery, there is no practical evidence that links slavery with the current problems that the African-Americans face. Most supporters of the reparation ideology assume that, the current problems facing African-Americans are a result of the historical injustices that individuals in this community faced during the slave trade period.
Yes, this might be right because of the practical evidence of how much African-Americans have struggles to be where they are social, economically, and politically. However, it has been more than a decade since the abolishment of slave trade, and many blacks have rose to high levels of political and economic power, regardless of what their ancestors went through.
Considering this, why should a community endowed with all the necessary resources to better their lives blame their suffering on a practice that ceased to exist over one hundred and fifty years ago? Take for example the West Indian Blacks; this group has endeavored to promote its economic wellbeing, and their efforts have gained good fruits, as most West Indians earn almost the same incomes as their white counterparts.
On the other hand, since the adoption on the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, the American government has dedicated numerous funds to those it considers the disadvantages in the society (where the black community are the majority).
Most of these funds are in form of college bursaries, welfare benefits, and economic stimulus packages (Block 56-68). Therefore, the economic assumption largely lacks a base of expression hence, for fairness purposes; there should no compensations to the black community.
On the other hand, considering the fact that, Reparations are likely to favor certain groups within the American society, this can be very detrimental to the peaceful coexistence of the American people.
That is, considering the fact that, most reparation funds should come from the white taxpayer community, likelihoods of racism increasing are high, as this may make one group to feel oppressed of forced to suffer for mistakes they never committed. One thing that most supporters of the reparation ideology forget to acknowledge is that, some whites and some members of the black community came to the U.S. after slavery had long been abolished (Munford 413-432).
Due to this, one question that always arises is that; which group of whites should pay or contribute to the reparation kitty, and how can it be identified? Therefore promoting this like an ideology can greatly endanger the nature of relationships that exist between the entire American community; hence, the need to do away completely with the reparation ideology.
In conclusion, because of the numerous negative effects associated with the reparation ideology for individuals to accept that, it is not a good idea to give reparations to blacks, as this may lead to more wars between different ethnic groups that make the American continent.
The future of this debate depends on the acceptance of the entire American society to face the real facts about reparation, and accepting the fact that, although it’s a good way of compensating for those who suffered under the tyrannical rule of slave masters, majority of the sufferers are dead and the American community has become more multiracial. Therefore, paying certain communities can be very suicidal, as it is likely to disturb the peace America enjoys.
To deal with the issue appropriately, it is important for the government to formulate restorative justice policies that will promote love, peace, and development in the U.S. Yes it is so hard to reconcile and make all American Groups to be at par, economically, socially, and politically; however, if the government can offer its citizenry enough economic stimulating programs, likelihoods of the gap that exists between the whites and blacks is likely to reduce.
Dwelling in the history of injustice, is as equal as starting racial wars between Americans; hence, the government should instead formulate programs that are acceptable by all Americans. This can be of great help in mending the damaged relationships that exist between different groups of different ethnic backgrounds that make the American continent (Walker 382-390).
Block, Walter. On reparations to Blacks fro slavery. Human Rights Review. Sept.
2002. Web. 26 Oct. 2010.
Horowitz, David. Ten reasons why reparations fro blacks is a bad idea fro blacks
and racists too. Front Page Magazine, 3 Jan. 2001. Web. 26 Oct. 2010
Munford, Clarence. A black perspective for the 21st century. New Jersey: Africa World
Press, 1996. Web. 26 Oct. 2010.
Olson, Walter. Reparations, R.I.P. The Street Journal Autumn. 2008. Web. 26 Oct.
Walker, Margaret. Restorative and reparations. Journal of Social Philosophy, 37.3
(2006): 377-395. Web. 26 Oct.2010.