Reparations isn’t strange. Precedents for reparations exist in this country (now and in history), in addition to the histories of countries such as Germany and Japan.
Equity compensation According to Investopedia:
“Equity compensation is non-cash pay that represents ownership in the firm. This type of compensation can take many forms, including options, restricted stock and performance shares.”
Given the costs and general pain in the ass of Reconstruction, this would actually have been a brilliant way for the US government to defer the costs of reparations. Though in and of itself, it wouldn’t have necessarily been all that helpful to Blacks at the time of issuance. Cashing in on those options at a later date could’ve benefitted future generations tremendously. This sort of deferred compensation is actually something commonly offered by startups today, so thinking of a young America as a business venture (which it was), reparations is actually uber normal–not some strange entitlement.
Further: would we support Mark Zuckerberg withholding money from Facebook’s first employees and investors? By framing reparations as an undue entitlement, what we’re supporting is theft [in addition to cruel human rights violations]. There’s no price that could make up for the indignities and atrocities suffered by slaves and their descendants, but reparations as equity is a logical amends that is well-recognized by our capitalistic society.
To consider compensation for forced free labor morally objectionable, or some sort of entitlement denies the realities of slavery. It also denies the culpability of the US government in creating the conditions which undermine Black community today.
There is a precedent in American history for reparations.
When white indentured servants finished their period of servitude, their “freedom dues” generally included some combination of corn, a gun, money, and land. If this could be done for people who willingly toiled, why would it have been so far fetched to extend it to people who were stolen and forced to build an uncivilization on its backs? Though not all Blacks are poor, income inequality disproportionately affects the Black community. This is directly related to the withholding of the promised 40 acres and a mule and subsequent institutional successes at keeping Blacks from affluence. To boot: we’ve seen reparations paid out by the US in modern American history. With 1988’s Civil Liberties Act, survivors of Japanese internment received compensation for their loss of liberty. Reparations isn’t a foreign concept to us; it’s just one we withhold from Black people.
The anti-reparations position is morally reprehensible.
Had freed Blacks been remitted land as compensation for the immeasurable contributions of their slavery, black poverty would not be so endemic.
Considering that very few Blacks in antebellum America came here free, land ownership would have meant that the majority of Blacks owned property—property they could have leveraged to provide for themselves and future generations. This would have mitigated the effects of redlining, if not made it altogether impossible to do to Blacks.
Research shows that very few people born into generational poverty escape it. Research also shows that parental home ownership is a key indicator of upward mobility for a child. Redlining was and still is a concerted effort to keep Blacks from home ownership. It is a vestige of slavery that reparations would’ve rendered obsolete.
Brutalizing kidnapped people, economically enslaving them after legal emancipation and then codifying inequality against them is directly responsible for income inequality and the persistence of racism.
In light of all that: why is reparations still a question?