It's Time For That Promised Forty Acres And A Mule

It's Time For That Promised Forty Acres And A Mule

It has long been obvious that in order to achieve true racial equality, radical steps must be taken.
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With headlines like “The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family Today” and “White People Are More Likely to Deal Drugs, But Black People Are More Likely to Be Arrested for It” and “Wage Gap Between White and Black Americans Is Worse Today Than In 1979," it is clear that, at the very least, it is questionable whether black Americans are yet truly equal with their white counterparts.

These vast inequalities today are perpetuated by instruments like de facto segregation, poor inner city education, and the mass incarceration state, all three of which place burdens disproportionately on black communities. Because of this long history of oppressing and stealing from black Americans and the sheer magnitude of the racial inequalities felt in nearly every facet of life, it has become a moral and practical necessity that the United States rectify its wrongs and work to ameliorate the situation, to provide some form of “reparations.”

When people hear the word “reparations,” they often get scared away with visions of the government coming and eliciting fines for “being white” to then distribute to black Americans to right past wrongs. This is a gross misrepresentation of what reparations would actually be; very rarely will you see any intellectual argue for a flat disbursement made to all black Americans. Not only would that not serve at all to fix the underlying problems causing the inequality, it would also fail to treat the situation with the nuance and complexity it deserves. Instead, what these reparations must be are structural reorganizations and legislative ventures to work to rectify the institutionalized inequalities undermining the possibility of achieving full equality for black Americans. They must be, as Atlantic essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, “more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant payout. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal.”

Though the history books make it abundantly clear, one need not look further than the current day to see that reparations are due. Recent statistical analysis conducted by the New York Times suggests the statistical inequalities between black and white Americans are far larger--and they are not decreasing--than could be explained away by mere coincidence. Black Americans are over twice as likely as their white counterparts to be unemployed--a gap that has remained stagnant since the 70’s--and are more likely to be jobless even if they have higher education levels than white peers. The median pay for black Americans is over 20% lower than for white Americans, something which has worsened in the past 30 years. Before the recession, the average white family held wealth equaling 4.3 times the wealth of the average black or Hispanic family; after the recession, this grew to 6.1 times. Similar discrepancies can be found in areas of education, housing, and criminal justice issues. These population-wide inequalities are too large to be explained away by personal responsibility, lacking families, and coincidence. Especially given that many of these inequalities have been improving either extremely slowly or not at all since the Civil Rights Era, it is clear that some sort of structural response is necessary.

There are, to be sure, reasonable objections to this course of action. In his essay for the National Review, Kevin D. Williamson notes that it would be unfair to levy the burden of past American transgressions on people of today and that reparations possibly would do very little to alleviate the socioeconomic disparities currently facing black Americans. He writes, “But the remedy Mr. Coates proposes would not satisfy the criterion of justice, nor is it likely that it would reduce or even substantially eliminate the very large socioeconomic differences that distinguish the black experience of American life from the white experience of it.” He adds, “There are still, after all, an awful lot of white people, and though many of them might be inclined to make amends under some sort of racial truce following the process Mr. Coates imagines, many of them might simply be inclined to prevail.” While well reasoned and nicely written, his argument falls flat in that he misunderstands what calling for reparations actually means. If done properly, there would be no unfair burden levied on white Americans, and there really could be substantial steps forward in alleviating some of the inequality. In fact, because of how closely linked class and race are in these United States, many of the structural changes would need to come in the form of poverty alleviation and increased access to upward mobility; this could serve to help the most disadvantaged white Americans, as well.

In September of last year, a United Nations Panel determined that the US government does owe black people reparations for a history of “racial terrorism." The United States government and citizens have undoubtedly waged a war against black people residing in the States from the moment they were torn away from their home and forced to work in fields under the threat of the whip to today when the lingering effects are not so much lingering as they are momentous. It is high time that the United States extend a formal apology to black Americans, though this is only one largely symbolic step that must be part of larger social change. In order to begin to fix the absurd inequalities between white and black in this country, there must be vast changes in public policy, and not through the more traditional means. We need an overhaul of the welfare, education, housing, policing, and criminal justice systems and it needs to be done in such a way that recognizes the unique struggles--both historic and current--of black Americans. For just one example, we can finally make good on our decades old promise to end segregation. Oftentimes the poorer, majority black neighborhoods in cities have increased levels of crime, lower property values, and significantly worse education. If we eliminated the de facto segregation that has reigned supreme in many US urban hubs--both northern and southern--more equality could be achieved. The longer we push this back, the longer we deny the promise of “40 acres and a mule,” the more entrenched the inequality becomes and the less likely it becomes that reparations are ever truly made.

Cover Image Credit: history.com

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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You Can Still Get Homesick While Having The Time Of Your Life

Not every moment has to be fun and glamorous.

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We often look at college life and study abroad and backpacking trips on other people's Instagrams and see all the fun they're having and all the friends they're making. This is especially the case with study abroad, when these people seem to travel to a new place every weekend and live their absolute best lives. As a result, when we embark on these trips ourselves, there is often a disparity between expectation and reality that can majorly affect you both physically and mentally.

It's important to understand that even if you're meeting new people every day and exploring a new country every week and living out your dreams, there will still be days where you feel like you just want to go home to your group of friends and hangout at the local boba shops or sit with your family at home and just watch TV while fighting over the remote. While you're absorbing all these new and wonderful things around you while abroad, your body will yearn for something familiar, comfortable and secure. And that would be your life at home.

You may feel the need to just stay in your apartment for 2 days straight and binge watch YouTube or call every single one of your friends back home just to catch up. Or you may end up revisiting pictures from the past and salivate over the Korean BBQ trips you took back at home and get intense urges to eat food from home. There's absolutely nothing wrong with feeling like this. In fact, a good way to help appease these feelings are to search for the cuisine that you're craving for in your city, and go out of your way to eat it just to get that familiarity back. I have found myself at Asian restaurants and bubble tea shops in Paris more often than I ever was at home, and while others may consider this as a waste of time and that I should be experiencing only French food, it's a really good way to appease those feelings of homesickness. Trust me, the moment you take that first bite of beef noodle soup, you'll feel much, much better.

This isn't to say that you should only stick to the familiar even in a new city. Explore as much as possible and be open to trying new things, but every once in a while, when those feelings of homesickness hit, don't feel bad about buying that boba or starting that 3-hour long video call. After all, you can't have the time of your life if you don't take care of your mental health in the process.

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