Reparations is the act of “repairing” something. In this case, we address repairing the African American generational wealth gap created by the conditions and longevity of slavery and the Jim Crow Era. More research and advice from experts is needed in this area to address the following: type of legislation and if more groups should be added to the benefit and for what reasons. Finally, on the national level, these same experts must address the argument of how reparations may be ruinously expensive.
Nearly 400,000...this is the number of African slaves that arrived in North America between 1525 and 1866 in the slave trade. According to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped and 10.7 million survived the treacherous journey. I am a descendant of enslaved Africans myself. My DNA proves the story as an African American, African blood runs healthily through my veins from various parts of Africa, mostly from Nigeria and Benin.
I grew up in an interracial home after my mother remarried my stepfather who was a white Polish American. I often joke about how my home cooked dinners were sometimes greens and cornbread, but many times pierogies and Polish dogs. Although I find it odd that reparations never came up during dinnertime, I believe my stepfather may have been in much favor as he was extremely familiar with the African American struggle in America.
There is an argument that exists which states because there are so many details to work out about who’s responsible for paying, how much is to be given, and who exactly gets it, and that this is somehow a reason to entirely dismiss the idea of reparations. I disagree. There are countless times in our American history, beginning with our forefathers, where we have painfully figured out the score; and it didn’t take years or decades to settle it, just a few sleepless nights and cups of coffee to figure out whatever it was that was needed.
There is another argument that providing reparations to African Americans would somehow cripple the U.S. economy. I also disagree with this notion. The largest bailout in U.S. history happened in 2020, in the largest-ever financial stimulus package worth $2 trillion for the coronavirus pandemic. But before that money was given, the American Automobile Industry, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, AIG, the airline industry, and Chrysler, all received compensation from our government which amounted to billions upon billions of dollars.
There is another argument that because the Portuguese, the Dutch and other Europeans, along with Arabs, South Americans and even Africans were all included in the slave trade then it’s simply too many to hold accountable and therefore, again, we should forget about it. I disagree for reasons that should be quite obvious.
Another argument is that reparations would simply provide too much power to those giving it and would simply reinforce the idea of dependency. I will not address this argument because it’s simply speculative and ludicrous.
Last but certainly not least, the most popular argument is that because slavery happened so long ago and no one who is currently living is responsible then it should not be addressed. I would argue there are several ethnic groups which have received some form of compensation and reparations in this country for things that happened long ago, such as reparations for the Native Americans, the Native Hawaiians, the individuals in the dreadful Tuskegee Experiments, and of course, the Japanese descendants. There is no other excuse not to give African Americans reparations.
Reparations were the topic of discussion long ago and could have been provided quite some time ago if it weren’t for the monstrous acts of President Andrew Johnson (1865-1869) who reversed the proclamation to provide African American family units and freed slaves with 40 acres and a mule after the Civil War, but Congress made no attempts to obstruct him.
I conclude, it is not only irresponsible to disagree with reparations, but unpatriotic and un-American. There exists a foundation of racism in this country that has allowed segregation to reach into every aspect of American life creating inequities that make it impossible for African Americans to financially advance collectively even when they have education and job experience. America must right this exceptional wrong.
The only thing that remains encouraging is how much African Americans have accomplished in this country without reparations. Therefore, as the future U.S. Senator of Indiana, I intend to work with my colleagues in Congress and experts in the field on the following:
Introducing legislation which finally acknowledges the need for reparations and addresses the generational wealth gap created by the harsh conditions and longevity of slavery and the Jim Crow Era
Introducing legislation which addresses what other groups may be added to the benefit of reparations and for what reasons
Introducing legislation and supporting programs and agencies which will provide research, review, and investigation into stolen property from African Americans in the United States for the purposes of reparations