Reparations – The Time is Nigh*

*NIGH (adj) Close or Near

Evanston, Illinois is about to become the first U.S. city to com- pensate African-American resi- dents for the loss of generational wealth that was caused by slavery. City officials plan on allocating $25,000 in housing benefits to Black citizens. This will pave the path for many families to afford a home without taking out loans that are either not made accessible to them or made available with hu-mongous interest rates that makes paying back the debt virtually impossible. The city plans to raise the funds through taxes received from marijuana sales and a total of $10 million will be distributed starting this spring This historic initiative from the city comes as America herself brings the topic of nationwide slavery reparations back on the debate floor.

Left-wing think tanks, lawmak- ers and party affiliates are optimistic with many assuring that Americans are ready to have this conversation. In fact, many believe the debates surrounding reparations should no longer be about the eligibility of financial com- pensation to the descendants of African slaves but more about how much, when, and how. The good news is that the capital is talking about reparations again after years of not bringing it up on the debate floor. Congress has intro- duced H.R.40 which is essentially a commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans. The commission will explore the role of the Federal and State governments in supporting the institution of slavery, forms of discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants, and the lingering effects of slavery on the African American community. The difficult part is that once the commission is complete, lawmakers will have to draft and vote on a proposal.

Our lawmakers are still struggling to come together for a COVID-19 relief bill, something that most American agree they deserve. One could imagine how hard it will be to pass a bill that a good chunk of our citizens find highly unnecessary. Additionally, midterm elections are next year and seats in both the Senate and the House will be up for contest. Given the polarized state of our politics, Democratic lawmakers in conservative areas who are up for re-election in 2022 might want to abstain themselves from taking a position on the matter. With an evenly split Senate, Democrats cannot entirely afford to have any sort of abstention if they want to succeed in passing such a bold bill.

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans do not even want to consider having the debate and those that do, have a distribution issue. The now Senate Minority leader, formally the Senate Ma- jority leader, Mitch McConnell responded, “I don’t think repara- tions for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea,” when asked about reparations in 2019. He continued saying, “We tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, elected an African American president.” He added, “I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to com- pensate for it. First of all, it would be hard to figure out whom to compensate.” First of all, although it was a long time ago, the effects of slavery are still very much alive. It is important to understand that while generations of African Americans were being forced to work without pay, White Americans were able to save money and pass it down to their children as inheritance. This directly contrib- uted to the unfair wealth gap be- tween Black and White Americans for generations to come. Moreover, Mitch mentioned how long ago slavery occurred but failed to mention for how long it oc- curred which is an essential piece of information when deciding if eparations are due or not. As for the “original sin” being cleansed comment, it does not take a highly intellectual person to understand that appointing an African American president does not negate the long lasting effects of slavery.

Although today’s Americans had nothing to do with slavery, it is hard to argue against the idea that slavery created substantial wealth for many of their ancestors, wealth that got passed down to them throughout the generations that followed. The real issue with reparations, however, is that simply handing people money will not change much. African Americans are not going to enjoy a substantial increase in their standard of living if they were simply given a check for reparations. Once spent, the situation would return to the current norm and the wealth gap will continue to exist. Thankfully, lawmakers in America are not as creatively dull as they appear to be. Many Democrats believe hat handing out reparations in the form of college scholarships, housing benefits and tax breaks to Black-owned businesses will have a more sustainable impact than merely distributing money to people. These kinds of reparations will help right wrongs that have plagued this country for generations.

The law of the land clearly dictates that any human being is entitled to financial compensation for any work done for an organization or a person. We have in place laws that protect employees over accidents, sexual harassment, discrimination and other situations yet somehow, nearly hundreds of years later, a huge portion of the first employees that contributed to building this empire of 50 states have still to be compensated for their hard labor. Uncle Sam has some payroll checks long past due and with the recent voter turnout in the Georgia elections, it is safe to say that the people are on their way to collect.

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