The national discussion on reparations is ramping up again. This time, thanks in part to a groundbreaking study in California, which BNN reported on this week. I have heard this discussion many times growing up. As an African American, it’s hard to escape. No pun intended. But I can’t help but ask: is reparations for African Americans really the answer? And if so, reparations in what sense? What value can you put on hundreds of years of slavery, racial discrimination and systemic oppression?
Still, to this day, Black people are fighting for equal rights in one way or another. In my opinion, putting a value on what the African American community has, and continues to endure is not the answer. A logical starting point would be making amends to the Black community… treating us no differently then the White community… enacting laws that protect us. That also means enforcing those laws. Why isn’t that the start? It certainly seems like a better starting point.
Our political leaders have 20/20 vision, yet they act blind to the fact that police, on a daily basis, still treat Blacks differently then Whites. There is a ton of studies that indicate this, and it’s a truth Black people witness everyday, yet we get gaslit on the subject. It’s not the only problem for our communities though. Discrimination throughout the years has negatively affected the economic vitality of rural communities, which is still felt to this day. There should be an improved labor market for Blacks, yet there isn’t.
California’s attempt to address decades of racism and oppression is intended for African Americans, but I don’t believe limiting reparations to African Americans — descendants of slaves in the U.S. — is the right call. All Black Americans should be included because the majority of Blacks can link their heritage to enslaved Africans. The America’s all benefited from the slave trade, including the U.S. It’s also hard for me to advocate anyone disassociating African Americans and Black Americans — we are all Black and we share the same struggle. We feel it no differently today.
California’s reparations study is a good start, but I too hope this isn’t just a can that will get kicked and forgotten. But most importantly, I hope one day Blacks are given the reparations that are more valuable than money.
Falisha McGee is Associate Editor of BNN. She is an activist and burgeoning journalist who is passionate about the progress of Black Americans. She is also an avid supporter of Black women’s health and well-being. Her column is posted every week.