IntroductionThe economic state, and they have been

IntroductionThe goal of reparations is to make amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to, or otherwise helping those who have been mistreated. Black communities all across America are owed reparations, not only for the ancestors of the enslaved, but for all Black individuals across the country. These communities all feel the repercussions of slavery, years of “separate but equal” and Jim Crow laws, unfair housing lending practices, police brutality, and the rise of White supremacists and hate groups. Successful Black individuals have had to work much harder to get ahead than their White counterparts.  They have had to overcome greater obstacles, endure harsher punishments, and deal with racist stereotypes for hundreds of years.  Members of the Black community have been playing catch up for their whole existence in America. They did not start out in an equal social, political, or economic state, and they have been unable to reach equal footing because they have not enjoyed the same privileges as Whites. Reparations are long overdue for Black Americans, not with money to individuals, but with something that can benefit all Black Americans for years to come and help Black communities achieve equity and equality.  Investing in underfunded schools with sizable Black populations, increasing arts and music, science and technology program budgets, as well as providing extra support would be a start to correct the deprivation Black communities have faced. The U.S. government needs to listen to these communities to learn what they most need and give them the investment they deserve.Legality of SlaverySlavery has been in existence for hundreds of years. Every major empire has had some form of slavery or indentured servitude, including the Mayans, Spaniards, Romans, and Chinese.  In the U.S., African slaves were viewed as subhuman and inferior to Whites; this perspective was used to rationalize slavery. Rudyard Kipling first wrote about the “white man’s burden” in his 1899 poem, and then others put their own meaning behind the phrase.  The poem suggests that it was the White man’s job or “burden” to bring “light” to all the dark places or uncivilized places in the world (Kipling).  Patronizing views like this served to justify the practice of slavery.  In legal terms, there was no foundation for compensating the descendants of slaves for the crime against their ancestors when, “no crime was committed.”  For at the time, most white men considered what they were doing to be legal since there were no laws prohibiting slavery. The African American community could not speak out because they had no political power, or even a platform to speak against the injustices they faced. Some claim that since slavery was legal in U.S. history, reparations are not due to the Black community; however, the Black community struggles every day with the implications of slavery, and the United States Federal Government needs to step in and correct this imbalance.Economic Implications of SlaveryThe United States of America’s economy and rise to dominance was partially built off of slavery. The profitable crops of the South including tobacco and cotton were built into some of the mega corporations we see today, including the American Tobacco Company and U.S. Cotton (Abagond, 2014).  According to researcher Thomas Craemer, from the University of Connecticut, the amount of money that U.S. slave labor made through working roughly “12 hours a day, 7 days a week” would be around $5.9 trillion today (Ehrenfreund, 2016). This statistic does not include the hardships Black individuals faced after the abolishment of slavery. The money that America made through slavery was never repaid. The government needs to at least make strides in apologizing and explore how reparations would be given.Some argue that a lack of records is an obstacle in verifying who is owed reparations.  Records regarding slavery are hazy and many slave owners did not keep their books up to date or even had them erased, so tracing lineage would be almost impossible. However, this argument against reparations is irrelevant. Discrimination is not limited to those Black individuals with slavery in their ancestry. Instead, society discriminates against the entirety of the Black population. In David Frum’s 2016 Atlantic article titled “The Impossibility of Reparations” he argues against reparations. He states that if the U.S. government send out a “massive bill to the descendents of every slaveholder and slumlord who did business from 1619 through 1968” the money would not change the “unhealthy dietary patterns, or enhance language skills, or teach the habits on which thriving communications are built” (Frum, 2016).  It is a demeaning assumption to say the Black community lacks in all those areas, and the call for the investigation of reparations never said that the White descendants would be individually responsible for the bill.  The funding should be invested into the future of these communities, not just to individual people.  So when critics say that you cannot trace a lineage that far back, it’s true, but it misses the point.  The argument doesn’t matter because the entire Black community is being affected by the U.S.’s ties to slavery, and all should be compensated for decades of withheld opportunities.It has been documented that Black communities in the 1940’s through the 1960’s were cheated out of fair housing prices (Coates, 2014). In highly populated Black communities in Chicago, for example, Black individuals bought houses for an estimated $10,000 more than Whites (Manning).  The Black buyers weren’t really homeowners because they made payments to the seller rather than the bank. In addition to the unfair prices, the sellers could evict families without a 30 days notice if they missed even a single payment (Coates, 2014). Once the seller evicted them, a new Black family would be brought into the home and the vicious cycle started over. Communities like these suffered from inflated prices and unfair contracts and only about 15% of the Black individuals attempting to buy homes were getting a fair price (Coates, 2014). With the Federal Housing Act of 1934, the government helped out with payments on houses, but it was based on a racist system. They ranked each neighborhood based on their “perceived stability” and almost all Black neighborhoods weren’t even eligible for the insurance.  The unequal mortgage rates and outrageous evictions are just a few examples of why the Black community deserves reparations. The effects of slavery are even reflected in our country’s architecture and historic preservation.  According to Catherine Zipf, Ph.D. (2016), an architectural historian, “the impact of slavery on architectural and urban design, development, and livelihood during the twentieth century is undeniable.”  After slavery was abolished, most of the slaves spaces were destroyed, while the plantation houses were preserved.  This pattern continued with the historic preservation of rich White areas of cities and the destruction and clearing of slums where Black families had lived.  Zipf’s article points out that by “denying African-Americans their built heritage, preservationists have denied them a sense of community.” Through these actions it is almost as if society was trying to erase the architectural evidence of slavery and discrimination, but this history should not be whitewashed away.  Separate but Equal and Jim Crow LawsThe Supreme Court helped to undermine the Constitutional protections of Blacks with the infamous 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case (Pilgrim).  This case introduced the doctrine that suggested Blacks and Whites could be segregated as long as what they were given was “equal.”  The phrase “separate but equal” made it seem as if all races were given the same level of social, political, and economic opportunities, but the harsh reality was the exact opposite. The Plessy v. Ferguson case legitimized the Jim Crow laws, which were state and local laws used to enforce racial segregation in the southern United States. Black communities were required to use different facilities such as schools, diners, restrooms, and even drinking fountains. Oftentimes the Black-only facilities were rundown and poorly maintained.  These laws lasted for decades until their ban only 52 years ago in 1965, but their presence is still felt today. The segregation they created meant that the Black community was extremely isolated, often in their own closed off ghettos, and were not treated as equal. Reparations need to be given for years of discrimination and segregation caused by the Jim Crow and separate but equal laws.    Reparations for Other RacesThe United States of America, as well as other countries around the world have given reparations to a diverse number of races and peoples. For example, in 1990, the United States gave the Japanese American population a collective $1.2 billion to repay those forced into Internment camps during World World II (Benton-Lewis). The aim of this was to help the Japanese Americans get back on their feet after the government repossessed all their possessions, businesses, and property. In 1971, the U.S. gave $1 billion as well as 44 million acres of land to Alaskan Native Americans in the Alaska Natives Land Resettlement Act (Benton-Lewis). In 1952, Germany gave $822 million to the Holocaust survivors of World War II (Benton-Lewis). Critics such as David Frum, view reparations in a negative light. Frum (2016) speaks about the process of German Reparations towards the Surviving Jews, and Israel. He argues that if reparations were to be paid, the Black community wouldn’t have anywhere communal to put the money because the Black population doesn’t have a designated place like Israel. This argument is flawed. The Europeans ripped Africans away from their homes when they kidnapped them and stowed them on slave ships before selling them to plantation owners in the southern United States. Reparations cannot pay for all of the damage inflicted on groups of people, but they can go a very long way in the public’s opinion, and help them realize the government is working towards making amends. Of course there’s no way to measure the amount of pain inflicted on the African American slaves and put it into a monetary value, but despite these obstacles, apologizing and exploring potential paths for reparations is a good start. Police Brutality and Racial ProfilingThe Black population is being killed almost three times the rate as the White population (Swaine et al, 2017). There were over 1,100 police killings of Black men in 2016, which is more than twice the FBI’s annual number of “justifiable homicides.”  Black men between the ages of 15-34 faced the highest rate of U.S. police killings (Swaine et al, 2017).  Without even stopping to question their reasoning, these police officers are racially profiling innocent Black men, just because of their skin color, and automatically assuming they look suspicious. Racial profiling by police may be “subconscious,” which goes to show how deeply racism is rooted into America’s history. Former New York prosecutor Ames Grawert states police departments’ “escalating use of force is exacerbating the racial tension plaguing cities across the country.” Hate GroupsThe majority of the Black population today is faced with discrimination and blatant racism. Hate groups and white supremacists such as the KKK feel right at home marching the confederate flag around, or holding up offensive white power signs.  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 917 hate groups currently operating in the U.S., including groups connected to White nationalists, the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, and Neo-Nazis (SPLC). A report by a U.N. affiliated group states that the U.S. has a long history of “racial terrorism” and asserts that the “domination of one group over another continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of African Americans today” (Tharoor, 2016). These hate groups have made it clear that even though all of this time has passed since the abolition of slavery, the world is still full of hate and discrimination. Proposed Commission to Study ReparationThe government has done little to examine the possibility of reparation to Black communities in America.  One of the only steps in that direction was a 1989 bill proposed to Congress by John Conyers titled H.R.40. Its intent was to “address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 colonies between 1619 and 1865.” This bill set out to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery. This bill has been suggested to Congress every year since 1989, and each time Congress has not enacted it. H.R.40 is not even a bill that would automatically pay the Black community a sum of money. It is a bill to consider creating a commision that would think about issuing a formal apology, and look into possible reparations.  Congress should finally pass this bill and the U.S. government should apologize for the atrocities that were inflicted upon the Black communities. The government has not even issued a formal apology for slavery or any of the hardships the Black community has faced. The effects of slavery did not just die out in 1865 with the 13th amendment’s abolishment of slavery. Slavery has had lasting effects that have harmed the Black community immeasurably. Reparations need to be awarded to begin to makeup for the many hardships the Black community has faced.Conclusion    Reparations are long overdue to the Black community. Slavery left lasting scars, including years of torment with the “separate but equal” and Jim Crow laws, segregation, poor socio-economic state for many Black individuals, on-going racism, alongside the recent extreme police brutality, and targeted racial profiling. The Black community has endured far too much and has received far too little aid from the government and now it is time to make amends. Congress needs to vote yes on the H.R.40 Bill, so the reparation process can begin. Evaluating the logistics of it will be a difficult task; however, it is a task the United States needs to fulfill. The Federal Government needs to allocate funds for Black communities directed toward underfunded schools to help improve educational programs, such as visual and performing arts, science and technology programs, and offer support classes.  The Commission should be made up of members of the the Black community to find out other ways in which reparations can help our country provide equity and work toward equality.  Reparations are not something the government can push aside. This issue needs to be addressed to begin healing the long-lasting effects of slavery, racism and discrimination.  Works CitedAbagond, Julian. “The Incomplete List of US Companies and Universities That Benefited From Black Slavery.” Abagond. N.p., 12 June 2014. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. Benton-Lewis, Dorthy. “History of Reparations Payments.” History of Reparations Payments. N’Cobra, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2017. Coates, Ta-nehisi. “The case for Reparations.” The Atlantic. June 2014.Conyers, John. “My Reparations Bill-HR 40.” Institute of the Black World, 3 Oct. 2013, Accessed 24 Mar. 2017.”Cost of National Security.” National Priorities Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. CNN Wire Staff. “U.S. Finalizes $3.4 Billion Settlement with American Indians –” CNN. Cable News Network, 27 Nov. 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2017. Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “African Religions.” Encyclopædia Britannica,Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 Mar. 2012, Accessed 25 Mar. 2017.Ehrenfreund, Max. “The Cost of Slavery Reparations Is Now within the Boundaries of the Politically Acceptable.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 29 Sept. 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.Frum, David. “The Impossibility of Reparations.” The Atlantic. June 2014.Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. “The Role Cotton Played in the 1800s Economy.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, 19 Sept. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2017. “Hate Map.” Southern Poverty Law Center, Accessed 23 Mar. 2017.”Holocaust Restitution: German Reparations.” German Holocaust Reparations. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2017. Lohr, David. “Cop Filmed Beating Unarmed Man, Pulling Gun And Ordering Crowd ‘The F**k Back’.” The Huffington Post., 13 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017. Manning, Christopher. “African Americans.” African Americans. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2017. McBride, Alex. “Brown Vs Board of Education 1954.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, Dec.-Jan. 2006. Web. 25 Mar. 2017. Pilgrim, David. ” What Was Jim Crow.” Jim Crow Museum: Origins of Jim Crow, Ferris State, Accessed 25 Mar. 2017.”Police Shootings 2017 Database.” The Washington Post, national/police-shootings-2017/. Accessed 25 Mar. 2017.”Shocking List of 10 Companies That Profited from the Slave Trade.” Your Black World. Black News, 29 Aug. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2017. Swaine, Jon, and Ciara McCarthy. “Young Black Men Again Faced Highest Rate of US Police Killings in 2016.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 Jan. 2017, Accessed 23 Mar. 2017.”‘The White Man’s Burden’: Kipling’s Hymn to U.S. Imperialism.” HISTORY MATTERS – The U.S. Survey Course on the Web, Accessed 26 Mar. 2017.Zipf, Catherine. “The Architecture of American Slavery: Teaching The Black Lives Matter Movement.” Radical Teacher, 2016, vid=1&sid=125cc108-6ced-46ff-99f2-9ee3c1dbfdcb%40sessionmgr101. Accessed 24 Mar. 2017.  


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