Imagine, your sitting in your car on a dark stormy night. The rain is slamming against the windshield. You’ve pulled to the side of the road because you’ve had a blowout. You’re ok. You reach for your cell phone to call for help, oh no. The cell phone is dead. Panic begins to set in. As your heart rate starts to rise, and you flip through possible solutions like a mental Rolodex, you see headlights in your rearview. Saved, a good Samaritan has noticed you are in distress, and they have stopped to help. They open their door and get out despite the severe rainstorm. They approach your window, “Hey, you look like you need some help.”
I am that guy — the one who wants to help. I don’t care what I have to trudge through to help someone. I feel an overwhelming need to help. It’s easy to assist someone who has fallen. You reach out your hand and help them to their feet. Or, if someone is hungry, it is easy to give them a piece of bread. However, how do you lend an idea, a philosophy, hope?
The time for reparations has come and gone. Moreover, we must have hope that something better for us lies over the horizon. No matter what that future may hold, it will not be because it was handed to us. We want jobs, education, freedom, respect, and inclusion. Inclusion in history and in making decisions here in the present that affect our future. But this is the same thing that everyone wants. However, it will never come from a concession. Concessions are given by one dominant party to a weaker party, or between two equal parties. Ok, that definition may be arguable, but you get the drift.
What are we in that scenario? If we are equal, what do we have to give as concessions? Nothing silly, because we don’t have that type of relationship. We are in a lesser role. Taking reparations would only further cement that position. Furthermore, Black people, and all people, even so-called deplorables, don’t want to be in a submissive position of power. We are the people. We are supposed to be equal parties to that of the government, UHHHHHH Democracy I think it’s called or something. We must take possession of our future, no one can, or will give that to us. Hasn’t that been made abundantly clear?
When something is divided, it means those things are separated right? Ok, simple I know, stay with me now. Why then are we continually trying to piece together something that is separated? Our society is stratified in so many ways it resembles shattered glass more so than a puzzle. Vegetarian, geek, jock, straight, gay, black, white, rich, poor, abortion, yes, no, man, woman, What? We work tirelessly attempting to put together what we think is a puzzle, but in reality, it resembles a Rubix cube. Each move we make pulls like colors, or groups, or political affiliations, further apart. Its just an analogy but, people beat the Rubix cube, thus equality. I am not as confident we can beat society especially when there are parties that don’t want the puzzle to go back together. Cohesion is difficult to counter, or control, and disarray is not.
Reparation is a divider, not an uniter. We don’t want reparations checks, and we are not getting them. Its just rhetoric, election cycle rhetoric. Unfortunately, even the discussion of reparations is harmful, receiving an actual check would be disastrous.
Can you picture your self walking in to buy a new car, cash in hand, smile on face? As soon as the salesperson sees you coming, they know you got your check. However, where is there check? They didn’t get a check. They are Haitian, and they didn’t qualify. So now there is new tension between you and your brother or sister. The white man behind the sales desk, he doesn’t like it either. So it gets worse. The white guy was a liberal. Until they started passing out money to all the Black people, he just lost his house. That check could have helped him save his home. “Fucking Niggers,” he thinks to himself. He doesn’t say it. But, his heart says it.
We don’t want that check. The check will correct absolutely nothing. In fact, it will exacerbate existing problems, and create deep-seated irreversible new issues. Ask an economist to quantify for you the damage that has been done to the African American community from even 1900-2000, in terms of lost opportunity for wealth. That’s sixty years I just left out by the way.
First of all, they probably won’t even know where to begin, and when they finally conclude a number, it would be totally ridiculous, staggering — trillions of dollars in lost opportunity, $5 Trillion, $10 Trillion, basically incalculable.
“This table, adapted from Gray, History of Agriculture in the Southern United States, II, 643, shows average value per acre of farm land and buildings in some of the Southern states”
ALABAMA: 1850: $5.30 1860: $9.20
ARKANSAS: 1850: $5.88 1860:$9.57
GEORGIA: 1850: $4.20 1860: $5.89
LOUISIANA: 1850: $15.20 1860: $22.04
MISSISSIPPI: 1850: $5.22 1860: $12.04
NORTH CAROLINA: 1850: $3.23 1860: $6.03
SOUTH CAROLINA: 1850: $5.08 1860: $8.62
TENNESSEE: 1850: $5.50 1860: $11.13
TEXAS: 1850: $1.44 1860: $3.48
VIRGINIA: 1850: $8.27 1860: $11.95
Negro Slavery in Arkansas by Orville W. Taylor
The value of $1.00 in the 1880s
was worth $32.19 today (Purchasing Power)
1 Mule 1850’s = $100 = $3200 today.
40 Acres 1850’s North Carolina for our example:
1 Acre in NC 1860 = $6 = $192 today.
40 Acres @ $192 = $7,680
Total Repriprations Check……………………$10,880
Yes, it is a real thing. Reparations were promised to Black people. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman made the promise himself on January 16, 1865. 40 Acres and a Mule. Which to be honest is a shit deal any way you quantify it. I did some rough math, and I came up with the reparations check in today’s dollars working out to be $10,880. Most places that won’t even buy you a single acre of land. Some mules sell for more than that. It is a joke. Smoke and mirrors.
Any amount offered as reparations would be a total insult. Besides, it would be like us selling the rights of our history. Don’t you think that if Black people received reparations, white people would feel vindicated? If you believe that the Alt-Right is empowered now, OMG. That would be like adding jet fuel to their base. Jesus. Any pro-Black talk at all gives ammunition to their base. They feel they have carte blanch to say whatever they feel like and anyone else is anti-patriotic. There is no reasoning with that logic. It reminds me of the worst monsters in scary movies — the ones who seem to grow larger and stronger by eating seemingly anything. There is always a poison pill though, always.
I am hoping that at some point people realize that for people to get what they want we have to have a “fully” functioning society. Not one that works only for the wealthy, or just for the poor for that matter either. A community that cares for all of its citizens like a utopia, but allows no wealth creation is, well……….., unlikely? It’s unfortunate, but it is doubtful. The point, if we have thousands of tribe vying to make society the best it can be for their tribe only, this will never work. There will always be a more dominant tribe that rises up and subsequently makes the others inferior and sees they live by their rules. Oh, and they will more than likely extract all the wealth while they are there.
Society, economics, education. These things can’t just work for segments of the population, they have to work for everyone. The more things we allow to stratify us as a society, the less likely that we are to achieve our “fully functional” capabilities. In other words, we never get there. That place we are always talking about, where people are happy, they get along, people feel secure, and people think more about possibilities than problems.
Some of the identifiers we use are less harmful than others, like athletic or not. Rich and poor, or educated and uneducated, Black and White, are not harmless things that segment our society. This type of segmentation guarantees no cohesion, and certainly no cooperation.
Reparations tears at this wound. Politics, race, wealth, abortion, sexual orientation, gender, incarceration, drugs, no opportunity, no healthcare, religion, culture, sports team, news channel, zip code. They all tear at the wound. We are wounded.
-Aaron L. Carroll