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LostInParadise's avatar

What do you think of the idea of paying reparations to the descendants of slaves?

Asked by LostInParadise (29137points) April 15th, 2021
48 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

A House panel has voted to advance such a bill. Link

I like to think of myself as a progressive, but this does not seem right to me. Are they going to give money to all slave descendants, including the wealthy? Does giving payments settle the score regarding slavery? Why should people who are not descendants of slave owners, including recent immigrants, be required to give their tax money to the descendants of slaves?

Reparations would not be discussed if Blacks were not disproportionately among the poor and if there was not still racial discrimination. These issues should be addressed, but not because of the existence of slavery in the past.

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hello321's avatar

First – this will never pass.

@LostInParadise: “Are they going to give money to all slave descendants, including the wealthy?”

Besides not happening, the idea of what form reparations would take is still completely undecided. But yes, I personally agree that reparations should go to all ADOS. The liberal reflex to means test everything should be pushed back on – even here.

@LostInParadise: “Does giving payments settle the score regarding slavery?”

No. And that isn’t the point of reparations.

@LostInParadise: “Why should people who are not descendants of slave owners, including recent immigrants, be required to give their tax money to the descendants of slaves?”

First, you’re taking the right-wing “tax money” framing. This makes low-income people feel as though they’re being robbed to pay for the crimes of rich people in the past. Don’t do this. “Tax money” doesn’t need to mean that we increase taxes on poor people – or anyone at all. The issue of funding is something completely separate and should not play into the question of whether reparations are due.

Second, people in the US who were not descendants of slave owners benefited and continue to benefit from the fact that the US had a slave labor force in the past.

Third, we don’t need to even show benefit to descendants of slave owners to consider reparations. The horror of slavery and the fact that labor was stolen for a hundred years is enough to warrant compensation.

This should be a very easy question for people. The fact that reparations is the slightest bit controversial is proof that the US has never even attempted to come to terms with what it has done and continues to do.

@LostInParadise: “Reparations would not be discussed if Blacks were not disproportionately among the poor and if there was not still racial discrimination. These issues should be addressed, but not because of the existence of slavery in the past.”

You can’t discuss economic and racial inequality without dealing with slavery. The only way to address racial inequality without dealing with the fact of slavery is to pretend that it didn’t happen. And that is just another injustice.

Slavery is not history. It’s the foundation that we all walk on today.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Not a rational plan IMO.

smudges's avatar

And after that they can discuss reparations to Japanese-Americans whose relatives we imprisoned in interrment camps. And then they can discuss reparations to Native Americans whose ancestors we murdered and whose land we stole. Hispanics, Irish, Italians and others have all been victims of America in some way or another. We can’t ‘fix’ the past. At some point we just need to accept that ‘shit happens’ and try to make each other’s lives better with kindness and respect.

kritiper's avatar

It sounds like total BS. How many would falsely claim benefits?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Been asked before – it was a dumb idea 5 years ago and it still is.

a) where does the money come from?

b) who qualifies to receive it?

There are so many holes in this concept that it won’t go anywhere.

Demosthenes's avatar

Nah. If reparations means increased investment in certain communities, sure, I can see that. If it means checks in the mail to every black person, that’s just ridiculous and I’m not sure what, if anything, it would accomplish.

What @smudges said. There are endless groups of people who’ve been wronged in America’s past. We can’t necessarily fix the wrongs of the past by throwing money at it either.

zenvelo's avatar

@smudges and @Demosthenes But Japanese Americans who were interred did receive reparations.

Former slaves were promised reparations (the famous “40 acres and a mule”) but Andrew Johnson explicitly reversed and annulled such proclamations.

Reparations are still deserved and owed.

Zaku's avatar

How about we make only descendants of Native Americans eligible to hold elected office for the next 200 years?

And only Native Americans, descendants of former slaves, and women can vote.

smudges's avatar

@zenvelo But Japanese Americans who were interred did receive reparations.

Correction acknowledged. I didn’t know that.

With the exception of that token reparation, I stand by my statement.

gondwanalon's avatar

Where’s the reparations for the Japanese Americans?^^^ Reparations for descendants of native Americans slaughtered and cheated? Reparations to native Hawaiians for stealing their islands?

Bad things of the past done by bad people can never be made up for.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Cherokee, Muscogee, Choctaw, Seminole and Chickasaw Indians being moved out Georgia and the rest of the South in 1830 and following.

Forcible removal. Yes, they got Oklahoma as partial compensation, but most of that was stolen from the tribes later.

If reparations are in order, let’s do it fairly.

hello321's avatar

The “but what about _____ people” defense is always used. But there are a few problems with this line:

1. Reparations for ADOS are not meant to exclude anyone else who may be due reparations. One can (and often does) advocate for both ADOS and reparations for Native Americans, for example.

2. Reparations for different people needn’t happen at the same time. If you pass some kind of reparations bill for ADOS today, that doesn’t mean we have to work to pass a Native bill at the same time.

3. Many of the people who make this argument aren’t in favor of any reparations. The “what about ____?” line is really just a way to say they don’t support it at all.

From what I see, you have the following scenario….

the US public: ”[complete silence on reparations of any kind for any group]”

ADOS: “Could we bring up the issue of reparations?”

the US public: “Woah! Hold up!! What about Native Americans, etc?”

ADOS: “Sure, but we’re specifically talking about slavery. Can we address this first?”

the US public: “No. That’s not fair.”

the US public: ”[complete silence on reparations of any kind for any group]”

KNOWITALL's avatar

@hello321 The population of natives in the US is down to .09, that’s genocide. 112 million before white men came to America.

I watched some crowds gathering to force reparations in Seattle. Not sure that’s going to work out too well or gain them any sympathy from voters.

hello321's avatar

@KNOWITALL: “The population of natives in the US is down to .09, that’s genocide.”

Yep. It absolutely is genocide.

seawulf575's avatar

Reparations is such a racist idea it is silly. Let’s get to the nitty gritty before we start handing out tax dollars.

Yes, slaves were brought to this country. That was bad. It is a part of our history we aren’t proud of.

How do you determine who was a descendent of a slave brought to this country?

What about the other blacks that sold these slaves to the slavers? Don’t they hold any responsibility?

What about the hundreds of thousands of white people that gave their lives or were grievously injured when they fought to free the slaves? Should their descendants get reparations from the black community as a way of saying thank you for helping us?

Since the entire drive to keep slavery (including the latter efforts to keep them segregated) was all driven by the Democrats, shouldn’t reparations come only from registered Democrats?

I mean, if you want to suggest such an idiotic idea as reparations, we can’t go stupid half-way…we have to go the whole way or not at all.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Perhaps one of the most obtuse things @seawulf575 ever said:
Since the entire drive to keep slavery (including the latter efforts to keep them segregated) was all driven by the Democrats, shouldn’t reparations come only from registered Democrats?

With that philosophy, why did I have to pay for the war in Vietnam that the Republican Nixon wouldn’t end even though Johnson wanted to.

Why did Democrats have to pay for Bush’s dumbass Afghanistan war after Bin laden was found? So say nothing of the asinine war in Iraq (thanks Bush and Powell) based on entirely false pretenses pushed by the republicans.

Come on, @Seawulf, you’re smarter than that.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@seawulf575 I think I’d be okay with reparations in the form of free college or tax breaks, something like that. Some are already doing it voluntarily, as I posted in a previous thread.

seawulf575's avatar

@elbanditoroso if you are going to suggest reparations as a sane thing to consider, then we need to get to the real root of all that was going on with slavery to make sure the reparations are complete and will prevent any future efforts at slavery. Part of that will be to look at who did the slaving, where did the slaves come from, and who fought to keep them slaves and 2nd class citizens. So the British and Dutch need to pay the reparations for being the slavers, the west African nations need to pay reparations for selling their fellow blacks into slavery, and the Democrats for fighting to keep slavery and then for the century of efforts to keep blacks segregated. So as I said, we either go stupid all the way or not at all.

seawulf575's avatar

@KNOWITALL So how do we determine who is actually a descendant of a slave? And what about those white families that were destroyed while fighting to stop slavery? Shouldn’t they get reparations? I suspect that the presented idea of “reparations” is nothing more than an attempt to buy votes. ALL blacks would be considered descendants of slaves regardless of how and when their ancestors entered this country.

No, I think to continue to even talk seriously about reparations is about as racist as you can get. It is time to look at our past and let it go. We were probably the very first country in the world to outlaw slavery. And our country wasn’t even 100 years old. We did more to stop slavery throughout the world than anyone can imagine. To blame all whites in the country today, or even to say the country is horrible because it had slavery at one point in its past is idiotic. It ignores so much history and good that this country has done just to push an idea of racism.

smudges's avatar

@seawulf575 I like what you have to say about this.

gondwanalon's avatar

@hello321 You seem to only want to see one side of the issue. You put blinders on by not looking at other similar situations. Yes what about it? It’s not changing the subject it is asking questions. What about demanding answers?

Above you tell @LostinParadise don’t play into the question of whether reparations are due and don’t think a certain way. No one should be limited in anyway as to how to think. ALL aspects of every issue should be analyzed NOT just the aspects that support your agenda.

Slavery in the USA is an evil thing of our past. Nowadays people are not limited by the color of their skin. We had a black US President and currently have a black female VP. We have black members of the US Congress, black generals in the US military, black doctors, black lawyers, black university professors, black police chiefs, black NASA scientists, on and on. There is nothing holding back people because of their skin color. When idiots do discriminate there are laws to fight against it.

Reparations to descendants of slaves? Let the past be.

kritiper's avatar

@seawulf575 and @elbanditoroso Back in the days of Lincoln, what was the Republican Party is now the Democratic Party, and vise-versa. Nobody can judge Democrats based on what they were so long ago, or by what anyone now says or thinks they were, and assume they might be the same today.

kritiper's avatar

The idea that someday, maybe, discrimination will be a thing of the past is ludicrous! My grandfather worked with Blacks in Texas back in the 20’s and they respected him a great deal because he respected them, and treated them with respect. But he told me this “Blacks do not want equality. The White man has been on top all along and the Black man wants his turn on top.”
I have never been able to see how this could not be true.

si3tech's avatar

@LostInParadise Bad idea. We, the living, do not “owe” reparation.At this point in time we have far too many people playing the “victim”. Far too many people who consider themselves “entitled”. It is time for us go get up in the morning and “pull our socks up” and be productive members of our country/society.

jca2's avatar

What’s the determining factor for who receives reparations? If anybody has ever tried to do research on family trees, you know it’s painstaking and often leads to dead ends. What kind of proof would be needed? It would be impossible for many people to prove, either because of inaccurate records or because, to try to obtain those records would require hours and hours of research, which the average person wouldn’t have the money or time to accomplish obtaining.

For Japanese Americans, if reparations were given, it wouldn’t have been difficult to prove who descended from those imprisoned as it wasn’t that long ago and it’s not hard to prove a tie to those imprisoned.

hello321's avatar

Comments TLDR – Democrats and Republicans agree?

Kropotkin's avatar

In principle, I’m for anything that redresses historic injustice, and any intergenerational effects that persist today in terms of inequality and deprivation.

I’m not sure how reparations would be properly adminstered, and I do think it’s more of a bandaid policy that focuses too narrowly on one demographic. It also doesn’t address broader systemic issues related to racism and capitalism.

That said, I’d be fine giving all African-Americans (even Oprah Winfrey) a load of money without means-testing, and an apology for how the country has fucked them over.

All that’s left after that is to abolish capitalism and send all billionaires to live on Mars. Elon Musk can fuck off first.

hello321's avatar

^ I completely agree.

janbb's avatar

I think it will go nowhere as witness to the reactions of nearly all of the people above but I think some kind of reparations are well warranted. Personally, I would probably favor money funding community organization projects but I have not heard all the proposals. Aside from Native Americans, Black people have been uniquely screwed in this country, both by the initial crime of their being brought here against their will and being made to build wealth and infrastructure for all Americans, including those who came later. Enslaved people built the fucking Capital for heaven’s sake! And they have never been given a chance to accumulate wealth and pass it on since Jim Crow laws destroyed the short, minimal gains of Reconstruction. Mass incarceration in prisons for profit and the disproportionate killings by cops are just two of the modern legacies of the slavery system.

We have never even had a Truth and Reconciliation process to confront the systemic racism that powered this nation’s beginning and still powers it.

As for the argument that other immigrants faced discrimination, as did my grandparents and other groups, they were not brought here under duress and more importantly, they have been allowed to become “white” and assume the privileges that accrue to that.

In my congregation, we have been studying the history of racism in this country and it is eye opening the more you learn.

That’s my two cents and I’m sticking to it.

Cupcake's avatar

I have no personal or political issue with reparations and agree with @Kropotkin @hello321 and @janbb. I will emphasize @janbb‘s “We have never even had a Truth and Reconciliation process to confront the systemic racism that powered this nation’s beginning and still powers it.” Reparations could be a step towards that.

I am uninterested in discussing the, “but what about… groups”, means testing, or “how do we determine who…”. Our government was wrong. Full stop. We need to address the legacy of slavery (that continues today) head-on. You want to pick another wrong that needs to be made right? Please go ahead. I will likely support you.

seawulf575's avatar

@kritiper I still don’t buy into the idea that the Dems were Republicans and vice versa. That is a fairy tale told by Dems that don’t want to own their past. In the 60’s they were still very much actively trying to stop desegregation. Even Joe Biden didn’t want his kids going to a desegregated school. He commented on it in 1977 saying he didn’t want them in a “racial jungle”. So when exactly did the leopard change its spots? When it became a negative for the Dem party? Well, that at least is when they tried saying it swapped.
But you are missing the point. The entire thing is trying to hold someone accountable for something that happened before anyone living today was alive…even before their parents were born. So if we feel that it is necessary to look THAT far back and hold people accountable, let’s go the whole way and hold those that were fighting to keep slavery and segregation back in those days accountable. You can claim it wasn’t the Dem party, but you are wrong. It was. Lincoln was a Republican, Jefferson Davis was a Democrat. As were most in the confederacy. So as I said, let’s not go partway, we have to go stupid the whole way or not at all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

We aren’t denying our part in slavery. We’re just saying we were a completely different party then, with different values.

seawulf575's avatar

@Cupcake “We need to address the legacy of slavery (that continues today) head-on.” Wow. Okay, let’s address this bizarre comment.
To start with, where does slavery continue today in this country? Please, enlighten us all.

But as for addressing the legacy of slavery, we already did that. It was called the Civil War. It was when hundreds of thousands of white people were injured and died addressing that legacy. And guess what? It stopped it.

So your comment should be “Our government was wrong. We addressed it and the problem was stopped. Latter efforts to keep blacks down have also been addressed. Those that persist in actively trying to segregate blacks are punished legally. Full Stop.”

kritiper's avatar

@seawulf575 Then you need to research the history of the Republican party and their platform as it was in Lincoln’s time. You might be surprised!
Also keep in mind that the Civil War, to begin with, was about state’s rights, not slavery. The slavery part didn’t come about until 1863 and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. .

flutherother's avatar

The UK paid a huge amount of money in reparations when the slave trade ended. The trouble was the money went to the slave owners as compensation and not to the enslaved. Now, I think it is too late.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 She said the legacy of slavery continues, not slavery itself. Different things.

smudges's avatar

@seawulf575 Slavery does continue in this country and others today. Global estimates indicate that there are as many as forty million people living in various forms of exploitation known as modern slavery. This includes victims of forced labor, debt bondage, domestic servitude, human trafficking, child labor, forced marriage, and descent-based slavery. Don’t want to get off-topic, just wanted to correct that misconception.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes And paying reparations will not get rid of that legacy. It happened. It can’t be undone. So It is meaningless.

seawulf575's avatar

@smudges All those things are indeed going on in the world today. I don’t call them slavery. I call them abuse and crimes. All of which confirms my point that slavery was outlawed. And you are talking about global estimates. What about the USA? Let’s get it down to that since that was the original claim.
Add to that, one of the arguments for securing our border is to stop human trafficking and drug smuggling (which is often done by people that were forced to do it…you know…modern slaves). Yet who always fights against securing the border? The Democrats. So we are back to them supporting slavery again, right?

Dutchess_III's avatar

We aren’t fighting against securing the border. We just want the people trying to come in to be treated humanely.

seawulf575's avatar

@Dutchess_III Every border policy Biden/Harris and the Dems have enacted and proposed says they ARE against securing the border. They have gone so far as to re-enact the same inhumane policies Obama started. The same policies for which they accused Trump of being a monster when he continued them. Trump stopped the policies and had security, Biden undid it all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

sigh. Prove it.

smudges's avatar

@seawulf575 I was only responding to your question: “To start with, where does slavery continue today in this country?”

According to, in 2018 the estimated number of people living in modern slavery was 403,000.

Kevin Bales, co-founder of Free the Slaves, defines a slave as someone who is “forced to work without pay under threat of violence, and unable to walk away.”

I’m going to let this drop. I didn’t mean to muddy the waters by bringing up modern slavery, but couldn’t let your statement stand without saying something.

seawulf575's avatar

@smudges Yes, but my question was in context of the current discussion which is reparations. Specifically I was responding the the comment from @Cupcake who was discussing reparations and our government and its legacy of slavery. She stated it still exists today. So your effort to derail that are weak at best. Trying to dilute it to the world was lame.

smudges's avatar

@seawulf575 I wasn’t trying to derail. I was simply correcting you.

Yellowdog's avatar

I think we should first pay reparations to our nation’s children,

For all the child labor and sweatshops right up to the 1930s and the way rich people stole their childhood to the mills and factories and canneries and textile mills.

Every child sixteen years of age and under should get reparations,

smudges's avatar

@Yellowdog Every child sixteen years of age and under should get reparations

I can’t even express just how silly that sounds, but I suspect you intended that.

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