Friday, October 07, 2005


Well, my infinite boredom has had me watching the Dave Chappelle Show for hours at a time. I would like to start this off by saying that he made one of the funniest shows of all time, and I have never made it through an entire disc without crying from laughing so hard. On one show he mentioned reparations for blacks. I had heard of this idea, but never in a serious context. He used it as a lead in to a skit, so I dismissed it once again. Then he asked members of the audience what they thought about reparations as the credits roled. Everyone he asked, all black, thought that they should be paid reparations. So I looked it up on the internet and found out that some groups are seriously pursuing this. There is group headed by a Harvard Law Professor, another by a law student suing coroporations that may have profited from slavery practices, and a consortium from Africa that demands 77 trillion dollars from western nations to compensate their continent for damages suffered during colonization and slavery. Here is a good rebuttal. What do you think? Do any of our various readers think there is a good reason for reparations? Personally, if our goverment decided to hand out money to any race or ethnic group without qualification I would move to Canada.


Sharon said...

There's an alderman in Chicago, by the name of Dorothy Tillman, who has been fairly successful in strong-arming companies with historical ties to slavery. At this time, she is trying to get Morgan Stanley barred from bidding for underwriting contracts ties to the expansion of O'Hare airport. Previously, what she was most well known for was her collection of hats, a collection so formidable it makes Mariah Carey's show collection look puny by comparison.

Taken to it's natural conclusion, reparations would sink the world economy by bankrupting the United States. Fact is every country in the world has, at one time or another, participated in slavery. Every racial and ethnic group has enslaved its' own lower classes, or enslaved those who lived amongst them yet did not share their racial makeup. The battle for reparations is hollow to its' core, as the US has more than made up to black men and women via enforcement of Civil Rights legislation, among others things. Everything from the promised "40 Acres and a Mule" to Affirmative Action has in part contributed to an evening of the score that blacks hold against whites. In spite of these programs, many blacks continue to see themselves as "oppressed", but I would argue that many of the sources of oppression come from within their own communities. How will reparations make up for what ails them?

Sharon said...

Obviously, I meant Mariah Carey's "shoe" collection, lol.

Gib said...

I could be sold on reparations, but I'm pretty sure none of its advocates would take me up on it. The argument I found compelling was the existence of slavery cost black families decades of chances to accumulate wealth that were available to whites, who were allowed to inherit the fruits of their predecessors' labors. Not all, certainly, but plenty of modern-day African-Americans are collectively less wealthy because their ancestors were denied the chance to accumulate wealth and give their children a boost into a higher social class.

My support would be conditioned on reparations being "payment in full," and from the date the check clears forward. I frankly doubt the Al Sharptons of the world would give up the cudgel they can wield when they cry "racism," but if they are, give me a dollar figure, and I might just get out my checkbook.

Sandcastle said...

If anyone is going to pay I would want these criteria met. 1-Plaintiff create a list of all slave owners, black and white, and their descendants. 2- Plaintiff create a list of all slaves, and their descendants. 3- Plaintiff create graphs and charts of the average income of these two groups in order to show that one was damaged and the other profited from the slave/owner relationship. Charts of the median incomes for other similar groups (such as blacks and white that emigrated after 1865 as well as blacks and whites that were not slaves or slaveowners) should be presented for comparison. Any damages that could be assessed from these charts should have deductions made for any income plaintiffs may have received from welfare or affirmative action. Then present this figure for the debate.

Cubicle said...

Gib's idea is intresting.

Though somthing can be said for naming a number, i don't think that will work very well, because in some cases that number will be an emotional number not one baed on facts.

sandcastle's idea based the number on facts. Of corse, i doubt that number is going to be extremly accruate because slave owners did not keep good records, though it is becoming easier to create a big family tree than it has ever been before.

In the end I don't see much of a solution.

Sandcastle said...

I know it's going to be next to impossible to get an accurate number. That is part of my plan. Put the burden of proof on the plaintiff and wait until they work that out before anyone even considers discussing the issue.

transientforeigner said...

The problems with holding governments responsible for reparation payments is well noted in comments and links. No sense in going over those again.

Corporate reparations are a much more interesting and plausible idea. The ability to gather evidence and information on corporations who benefitted off various forms of slavery or other crimes against humanity would decide whether or not any such plan is feasible. But I would completely favor holding companies responsible for making reparations to victims.

The company should be responsible for repaying whatever profit they made off oppression (instead of forcing victims to show what they lost) plus adjustments for inflation and a moderate amount of interest that victims would have had the opportunity (whether or not they would have taken the opportunity)to enjoy otherwise.

Who would it extend to? Not simply the ancestors of black slaves but the ancestors of Native Americans and any other group that can be shown to have experienced some threshold of mass discrimination. How the money is distributed would be something else to be discussed. Do you give the money directly to ancestors? Perhaps to non profit groups for the building of job training programs or scholarships? That may be the most contentious part of the plan.

Are there companies in existence today that can be shown to have benefited directly by engaging in systematic oppression? I do not know, but if so, I see reparations as a viable solution.