Tuesday, May 27, 2014

reparations or not

Lots of issues out there right now. One big one is the subject of reparations to blacks for the wrongs done their people through slavery, Jim Crow laws and the inequity right up until today where the Supreme Court is undermining affirmative action by saying there is no more racism. Lots of articles on this including what started the current debate (it's not new).

Suppose we start with the assumption that there should be reparations, ignoring the political division in our country, would giving each family say $40,000 make any real difference in the problems they face? Forbes writer calculated out how much it'd be for the value of the work that was done under slavery. But not all blacks here today have a family history of slavery. Plus you have those like Oprah but many others, who are doing quite well economically. So how do you work out cash reparations to individuals if you indeed believe they are due?
Looking at our current political environment, it's almost impossible to see any sort of retribution enacted. We have states now that are enacting laws that would take us back to Jim Crow. The right is doing all it can to take away the affirmative action we have had and in the meantime hoping to make blacks and the poor less likely to vote. 

One of my comments on this at another blog became nearly a treatise-- it is a hot button issue to me. I think we can do something. It should not start with throwing cash at a problem. We've done that before. It also will take holding the Senate in 2014 with progressive candidates who want to do something otherwise we will see a high-tech lynching of the black guy currently in office as if the Senate goes into Republican control, the House is eager to try and impeach Obama. And their excuse is literally nil unless you take into account that he's black.

So hold the Senate and we can think about what we might do to make our racial divide better-- if we can't really fix it in a generation or more. The following is basically my comment.


I have commented on reparations, arguments with right or left wing on this one after hearing Ta-Neshi Coates make his case for it on Chris Hayes. While I agree racism is still here, that blacks have a harder time, more apt to get stiffer punishments for any law they break, I think he left holes in his debate. He didn't want to get into what reparations would mean and yet without how it'd be done, the whole argument seems futile.

Sadly as a nation, we have gone backward on making the situation right for blacks with laws that would stop their voting and those on the Supreme Court saying racism is over-- which is patently ridiculous. When you see the high rate of incarceration for blacks, it's obvious our for profit prison system is contributing to the problem-- as well as unrealistic and even cruel drug laws.

We built our many housing projects with often inferior materials and then left the people there to fare for themselves and ended up creating situations like Chicago where walking down a street in some neighborhoods can get you shot, where the schools are failing partly due to fear keeping out top teachers, and where kids join gangs with it seeming their only hope. We should have never had housing developments where all the people are poor and they become basically separated like apartheid.

So if there would be reparations, that I as a moderate would favor, they should not go to individuals as that ends up only a boon to the businesses that prey on them to get that money. It should be building smaller housing projects in neighborhoods of regular folk or even amongst the rich. Get the kids into schools with those of all economic and ethnic levels. Knock down those monster buildings that have bred hopelessness and violence.

As it stands a lot of Americans don't even know someone who doesn't think or have the same economic levels as they do. So if we do reparations, use it to undo the damage we did. Destroy those ghettos that we created and get the people out with everybody else by rebuilding them in suburbia, fancy developments, etc. And don't put them all one place. Make them smaller and put them where their kids can go to school with children different than themselves.

Then deal with schools to teach and take into account the problems minority kids have in competing. By college, it's often too late. We should have free, quality education from pre-school through 12 and then make university very affordable for everybody. We are failing all our kids with the expensive university system we have now.

Anybody who is asked to sign a contract that says they won't sell to a minority, should throw it down and walk off. I could not believe it when I read someone saying that they experienced that in Carmel in 1997 when they bought their home. I'd not want to live anywhere that people would think that way.

If our government really cheated home buyers strictly on their race, then I'd be all for those families being given reparations for that (it is one of the accusations). If land was taken unfairly, give those families payback-- too bad we can't also go after the cheaters but they are usually long dead (similar problem with situations like the Black Hills in SD).

The guy spoke well and said he was more centered on what happened after slavery. Well, it's true. Oregon, a supposed Northern state had a law on its books until it went into the Union (1912) that no black could own property. Lovely talk of wanting to free the salves but hey, don't want them moving here!

We as a people are often very divided by economics (unless we live in the country). Most people don't intimately know the working poor-- working or not. This isn't new either. When I was in education in the '60s, we worked for part of our teaching in classrooms in four different schools-- the division based on economics. All in one big city-- Portland.

The sad part of this is with the Supremes as they are, they are taking this all the other way. We do still need affirmative action. It is being undermined along with plots to take away minority votes. It all comes down to November -- donate and work for progressive candidates or see it become worse than no meaningful reparations.


Ingineer66 said...

I say pay reparations to each person in the US that was a slave. But if we do pay them to people of African decent then do we pay them to people from China or Ireland that were treated as bad as slaves? Or what about Mormans that were persecuted for religious beliefs? What about American Indians? When does it stop?

Rain Trueax said...

It doesn't and that's part of why just a payout, so some can feel righteous, doesn't make sense to me. We need to make it have meaning. The alternative is typical of how we deal with problems-- throw money at them and wonder why it didn't work.

Ingineer66 said...

That is why I said pay them to each slave that is still alive. :-)

Smoke said...

If I read your rant correctly, there are people who think we should pay reparations for all the war on poverty and great society programs of the 60s and 70's? Lyndon Johnson and his great society cronies built most of those huge "affordable housing" complexes that haunt our inner cities today! How about reparations for the families who are working on their third generation of un-wed mothers on welfare? These, and lots of other well meaning but misguided government programs have mistreated a lot of people for the last 60 years or so, but I don't think we need to pay reparations, no way. I think the only people who benefited from those programs were the government bureaucrats and contractors who made money on the deal(and in a lot of cases, swindled and embezzled the money) If you could figure out a way to spend some money on real beneficial programs I'd support it, we certainly need to do something with the inner cities in this country, but giving any more money through federal government channels is probably good money after bad. (see the VA for a good current example) As for reparations for slavery, or even Jim Crowe laws, I just don't see it happening, nor any reason for it after all this time.

Rain Trueax said...

You said it well, Smoke. Naturally we are in agreement.

Incidentally I have your quote ready for when I write about the Palestinian/Israeli situation. I haven't been in a hurry as that is one complex situation. Not that a lot of the rest aren't also ;)