Since we recently had celebrations for Juneteenth, I thought it time to bring up a topic that doesn’t get talked about much: reparations, specifically for Black people.
For anyone not familiar, reparations is the concept of reimbursing people for wrongs of the past, either through direct payments, awarding property, or other forms.
There are many angles that this could be looked at, but I’ll focus on one specifically: housing.
From the 1920s-1950s, as neighborhoods were being built, discrimination based on race pushed communities of color into lower-valued housing, more distant from city centers and with less nearby amenities that add value to a neighborhood. As time passed, the more desirable neighborhoods increased in value, with the homeowners gaining equity as their homes increased in value. Those in other neighborhoods, primarily Black people, were left behind. This affected not only the standard of living for these people, but also future generations as well.
Even if there were absolutely no discriminatory practices taking place today, the ramifications of discrimination in the past continue to be felt today, as the net worth of families has a large impact on what resources are available for their children.
Reparations are not a completely foreign concept either. They have been paid out to other groups in the past, and it is being explored in some US cities about doing the same for Black Americans that have been held back by discrimination.
What do you think about reparations?
I understand the intentions, but it’s really challenging to actually determine how to distribute. Determining which people have monetarily suffered from past injustices from the government can be very tricky. I would think a rich Ghanan-American immigrant wouldn’t qualify whereas a descendant from a Black family that was affected by redlining would qualify, but the grey areas are tricky. I’m in favor of trying to make amends for past struggles that are directly the fault of the US government, but it’s not an easy nut to crack.
Ideally I’d love to see efforts to combat generational poverty in general, in part because it would also address this problem in the process.
I appreciate this topic being brought up. It’s something I can rather heavily relate to, so even though I know I’m late to the party, I’d like to state my piece.
Speaking as a biracial (in my case, half-black and half-white) American girl, I’ve experienced exactly what you’re talking about. My father is black and my mother is white. They live in separate homes. When I was younger, I primarily lived with my mother in a suburban townhouse, and would stay in my father’s apartment in the middle of a big city on the weekends. The crime rate in that city was and still is very high. The population of that city is predominantly black.
It’s a very well-known city across the U.S. I’m not trying to say that the reason the crime rate is so high is because it’s predominantly black. I’m not sure why there are more black people living there than any other race. It could very well be the reason you were saying. However, much like what Sleet was saying, execution of reparations would be very difficult. Deciding who should receive what, is a huge challenge. But I believe that God finds a way. There are actually numerous government resources out there for people in need, many of which both of my parents have benefited from. Some of them are even targeted towards people of specific ethnic or racial backgrounds. I believe, with proper help, we can achieve equity for all races, because complete “justice” is not realistically achievable (cue the drawings of the people standing on crates to see over a fence lol). I’m sure what I’ve written is hard to understand but please ask questions so I can clarify everything before you respond. Thank you for reading!
Thanks for contributing to the discussion.
I do acknowledge that there are a lot of complications around this topic which can paralyze coming up with any potential solution.
And yes there are resources out there to help people. It doesn’t have to just be money given to people, it can be others types of benefit/assistance.
A question that I have is, do you see a solution that involves financial restitution, and if so how do you think it should be handled for people of mixed race?
Yes of course! I also want to add that the vast majority of present day black people were not slaves, and have not been discriminated against racially by the majority of present day white people. One cannot control what their ancestors did, so as long as they themselves haven’t done anything racially discriminatory towards black people (or anybody, for that matter) then, in my opinion, they don’t necessarily owe black people anything. Just like how you can’t control who your parents are and what color your skin is when you come out of the womb, you can’t control the actions of your ancestors.
That being said, mixed people had a very different experience from black people back in the day. While I still think the above applies to biracial black/white people, I suggest doing some research as to what mixed people experienced and how it was different from African Americans’ experiences. It’s a lot to go into right here so that’s why I’m recommending doing some light research lol but other than that, no, I don’t believe present day white people owe reparations to present day black people if they do not/did not discriminate in any way.
Little side note, I know that every race has experienced and, frankly, still experiences prejudice and discrimination from a lot of different races, not just white people on black people. I feel that society should focus more on trying to eliminate racism as a whole rather than attempting to make it up to/eliminate it for just one race. Again, thank you for sticking through this wall of text lol!