Reparations: A Struggle or A Stance?

ibw-reparations-nowRecently, there has been a great deal of talk about reparations for Black Americans in the public sphere. With the efforts of Ta-Nehisi Coates over at The Atlantic,  reparations has become a hot topic for the last two years especially.  Since the conversation is fresh in people’s minds, and it’s February,  now is a good a time as any to opine on reparations and what that would mean or look like.

First off, as a student of history,  I think that reparations is a righteous thing to advocate for. Due to American history,  there is no doubt of the damage done to Black Americans over centuries. The yearning to see a historical wrong, addressed and righted is an understandable sentiment. However,  while it’s a nice stance to have, what does it mean concretely to the lives of Black Americans now?

Before you dismiss out of hand what I an saying, do understand that there are two major concerns. One, how do you put a dollar sign on incalculable damage? Two, and most importantly,  how do you achieve these demands without a struggle?

When right now,  with broad issues like massive unemployment, rising costs of living, and diminishing chances for even the most educated, this reparations discussion is fairly academic.  All of the aforementioned issues, in addition to the living wage struggle are Black issues as well. The fight for clean water in Flint, Michigan, and a call to rebuild crumbling infrastructure around this country is a bit close to the day to day concerns of all of us today moreso  than a study about past atrocities we are all aware of.

I’m saying all this to say that given the discussion I have seen so far, I am not sure if the voices that are most steadfast around the call for reparations point a way forward to struggle for it. Which is why it feels like a stance.

Your thoughts are welcome.


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