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Financial Reparations for Descendants of Slaves

Fischer, Brian

America should pay financial reparations to descendants of former slaves.

According to Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says that he doesn’t believe America should pay back, even though African Americans still suffer because of slavery. McConnel believes since it was before his time, “none of us currently alive are responsible.”

But our founding documents can start to help America keep its word when they say everyone is equal. As the Preamble to the Constitution states, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility….” In other words, the Preamble states we should give justice to the people even though we ourselves have not personally contributed to slavery. It is still the responsibility of the people to make sure everyone feels uniform.

Furthermore, black people are still being oppressed even years later, which Coates attributes to not being paid back. Coates writes, “And so for a century after the civil war, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.”

McConnell has been alive for long enough to see the oppression that still goes on today, yet continues to do nothing about it

The Declaration of Independence addresses fairness when it states, “They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind…in peace friends.” In the past, leaders were not aware of problems that required a lack of bias. We should acknowledge and act against any suppression of justice. Black people, like everyone else, deserve recognition for the hard work they have and continue to do for our country.

Slaves were a main source of income for America’s money and never got any pay back. Coates writes, “As historian Ed Baptist has written, enslavement shaped every crucial aspect of the economy and politics of America, so that by 1836 more than $600 million, almost half of the economic activity in the United States, derived directly or indirectly from the cotton produced by the million-odd, enslaved people.” In other words, slaves worked for little to no back pay and have never been recognized for their work.

In the Declaration of Independence, it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights…”  Everyone was created equal and should be treated as such; but since slaves were created, they should get recognition as a start to creating an equal environment.

Lastly, reparations would overall help make amends and actively show that America cares about its people. Instead of looking at reparations as a price to pay, it should be seen as asking for forgiveness to move on. Like the Constitution says, uniting the states would make democracy work better than ever even on opposite sides, which can also be applied to situations like this one. We can further unite all of our citizens.

In summary, some think African Americans shouldn’t be paid for their descendants’ work during slavery. Though it is no longer legal, blacks still are affected by stereotypes created during slavery. Many families that come from and live in low-income neighborhoods are African American. It forces parents to work multiple jobs to just get by, which gives children less opportunity and a higher chance to continue the cycle. Money does not make up for all the horrible acts done, but, with the money paid to those owed, America could become more united.

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Zaria Thrasher, Writer
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