Should the U.S. government pay reparations for slavery? | The Tylt

Should the U.S. government pay reparations for slavery?

A bill to examine reparations for slavery has been introduced in every session of Congress for the last 20 years, but to no avail. Centuries of slavery, Jim Crow and institutionalized racism have created a vast wealth gap between black and white Americans—and the U.S. government has, in the past, paid reparations for injustices committed against other groups. But some argue reparations for African Americans aren't needed, aren't possible or won't solve the problem. What do you think?

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At The Nation, Joshua Holland argues racist public policies of the past created the vast racial wealth gap, and current policy only widens it further. Talking about economic reforms or improving schools isn't enough.

Absent significant policy interventions, or a seismic change in the American economy, people of color will never close the gap.
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In his 2014 Atlantic essay entitled "The Case For Reparations," Ta-Nehisi Coates lays out a powerful and meticulously-researched argument for reparations.

Something more than moral pressure calls America to reparations. We cannot escape our history. All of our solutions to the great problems of health care, education, housing, and economic inequality are troubled by what must go unspoken. "The reason black people are so far behind now is not because of now,” Clyde Ross told me. “It’s because of then.”
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Commentator David Frum responded to Coates' essay, acknowledging the validity of his case, but countering that offering monetary reparations would be impossible to enact fairly—as well as an ineffective solution to racial economic inequality.

If “reparations” means intensifying the nation’s commitment to equal opportunity for all its people—and most especially for the descendants of those once enslaved—then (again) let’s have reparations. But if “reparations” means...cash flowing from some Americans to others in race-conscious ways meant to redress the racial wrongs of the past—then it’s a disastrous idea for all groups in society.
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The UN recommended reparations for black Americans in 2016, calling the current situation "a human rights crisis."

"The legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent," the report states. "Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching." 
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While Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have all spoken in support the idea of economic, social and legal reform specifically aimed to redress historical injustice and to boost opportunity in African-American communities, all three oppose monetary reparations from the U.S. government to Black Americans. They argue it would be legislatively impossible, and Bernie Sanders said a reparations bill could never pass in Congress:

"The likelihood of it getting through Congress is nil."
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In 1988, the U.S. government granted reparations to Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II—formally apologizing and paying $20,000 (equivalent to $41,000 in 2016) to each camp survivor. The U.S. eventually disbursed more than $1.6 billion in reparations to 82,219 Japanese Americans who had been interned and their heirs. 

So reparations for racial injustice and property theft are clearly possible. If they were given to Japanese Americans, how do we justify not giving them to people whose freedom, labor and dignity were stolen for centuries? Ta-Nehisi Coates asserts that people who deny reparations as possible are denying reality:

"[They] must directly explain why the Japanese-American case is compelling, but the more recent African-American case is not."
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Who would receive payments? How much would recipients receive? If Black Americans were given reparations, shouldn't monetary compensation be offered to Native Americans? The complexity around how monetary reparations would be enacted leads many to believe they're just not possible.

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But proponents of reparations say much of the discussion around their practicality, viability or fairness is just an excuse to avoid facing the moral issues at hand.

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Politics
Should the U.S. government pay reparations for slavery?
A festive crown for the winner
#ReparationsNow
#ReparationsWontWork