Since 1989, every United States Congress has been presented with a proposed reparations bill and every time it has failed. For the first time, such a bill was recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee to be debated in the House of Representatives. This may seem a significant step forward, but truthfully it’s a very small step. The chance of it being passed by the House is low. Yet all it proposes is the formation of a Commission to study the issue. A recognition there is an issue and the courage to find solutions. It would seem any meaningful reparation is a long way off.
So what do I mean by reparation here? It is the recognition that Black Americans have been horrifically mistreated, maligned and marginalized for so long they don’t have an equal opportunity to pursue the Declaration of Independence edict, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Reparation is making amends for wrongdoing, whether through compensation or programs designed to accelerate the ability to grow the number of Black Americans in the middle class.
Today, the average white family has roughly 10 times the amount of wealth as the average Black family. White college graduates have over seven times more wealth than Black college graduates. Reparations would help close the Black-White racial wealth divide.
But wait, why should my generation be expected to spend well-earned tax dollars for the sins of the past? The answer is clear, if we don’t, who will? We need to be courageous, acknowledge the hurt, the injustice, and make it right. As Pastor Duke Kwon states, “The goal of reparations is not to punish the ‘offender.’ It is to restore the offended. That the goal is not punishment. The goal is to repair.”
I believe reparations should be offered to all the descendants of slaves. No doubt identifying this population will be complicated, but it’s work we should do.
I believe reparations should come in the form of:
1. Free undergraduate education.
2. Education debt forgiveness.
3. Low mortgage interest rates with zero deposit requirement.
4. Grants to start businesses.
5. Tax credits for funds placed in trusts for future generations.
6. One-off payment.
As a Christian, my tendency is to seek restoration where there is brokenness. It’s to serve others – not to foster dependency but independence. My faith tells me reparation makes complete sense.
It’s time to act.