During this campaign year, the debate surrounding reparations has come to the forefront of American politics and social discourse. Again, bringing up hard truths, ugly hate speech and widening the gap between seemingly opposing sides.
However, I challenge that the current discourse is far off base, considering the argument is being positioned as us vs them, taking from one group today to benefit another, or calculating the true economic impact of chattel slavery and Jim Crow.
No, the debate is not whether white people owe black people, or does the United States government owe black people, but rather do the “bastard children” fathered by their slavers deserve access to the wealth that that particular family has accumulated through the centuries.
This is a Family and Estate issue- if next of kin drives the passing of wealth down to future generations, some of that wealth should have gone to the black children of the plantation owners.
Today the average African American has 10 – 22% European DNA. This is due to African slaves brought to the Americas having no rights or control over there own bodies, nor with whom they would procreate. Black women were raped by the hundreds of thousands over the centuries by their slave owners and handlers, as young as toddlers for generations; and it was even opined by many abolitionists during the Civil War that slavers were truly fighting to keep their harems.
It is likely that if you are an African American whose last name ends in Son or Man (Robinson, Jackson, Freeman, etc…), a color (Green, Black, White), and other Western European names (Sullivan, James, Jones, etc…), and family trace its roots back to the southern states, you have a direct lineage to a white ancestor who owned large parcels of land with a successful business enterprise.
This ancestor could and more than likely is the patriarch of your lineage, who, when deceased gave none of his estate to his black children/heirs. Your half brother likely fought to keep you in chains, you likely were the maid of your half-sister and not acknowledged as a proper member of the family by their mother nor her relatives. Even if the Patriarch had wanted to leave his black children something from his Estate, the laws dictated that this would not be possible, considering blacks weren’t allowed to own land, have bank accounts, nor conduct any legitimate business through the economic structure.
Knowing that it normally takes generations to accumulate wealth, how does America reconcile the fact that not only were blacks locked out of the economic system, but locked out their own economic lineage? Estates that went to next of kin explicitly ruled out those family members who identified as black. This is why an investigation committee, connecting the dots of familial connections, is the mechanism to mend the wounds of this country; because the truth is, this is a dysfunctional family but a family through and through.
If your family didn’t arrive here before the Civil War, you are not a part of this discussion, it’s a family matter period. Receiving reparations of $6 Trillion or whatever nonsensical amount, will not move us past the pain of not being accepted or at least acknowledge by your family. We start with this hard truth and move forward by reuniting the distant family members that together built this country.