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Thread: Reparations for the Descendents of slaves in America?

  1. #1

    Default Reparations for the Descendents of slaves in America?

    I have been doing a research paper for my English class and I was given the topic "Should America Give Reparations for Past Crimes (ex: slavery)." So over the past few weeks I have been looking up various arguments both for reparations and against them.

    Personally I do not believe that reparations should be given for few reasons. 1.) I have never owned a slave of any kind (while this is closed minded it is still true). 2.) All people here in America are born with freedom and they choose how to shape their lives (yes some people have a "head start" because of their parents but I personally know a guy who is putting himself through college unassisted because he works so hard and Texas state law requires some form of schooling home (pay for books), public (pay for extra activities) or private (usually expensive) to everyone under 18). 3.) Soldiers paid the debt by spilling their blood to free the slaves during the Civil War (and while slavery was not the single cause of the war it was a major factor.) 4.) Who is responsible for the slave trade? We have the people in Africa who captured their fellow people (even though they were from different tribes) and sold them to the Europeans, we have the Europeans who bought the slaves and transported them, and we have the Americans who bought the slaves and put them to work. 5.) I read that at the start of the slave trade slavery didn't exist because the "slaves" were treated more like indentured servants and were released from their bondage after X amount of time so much so that there were even some Africans who had these indentured servants "slaves" as well.

    Sorry for rambeling there, but now I would like to know what you think about this topic; should reparations be given to the descendents of slaves or not? And why or why not?

  2. #2


    I am also against reparation for descendents, for all the reasons you stated and one more. Reparation for descendents is basically a backwards form of entitlement. Those who would receive it would only be getting it because of the circumstance of their birth. They did not suffer the atrocity of slavery themselves but would reap the benefits of past crimes. Many disapprove of rich kids riding on the coattails of mommy's or daddy's fortunes so how would this be any different. I feel that it would hurt the black community in the long run because it would lessen the drive to better oneself because everything would be handed to African Americans on a silver platter.

    Now I say if we want to have reparation by the government then have it be for current hate crimes.This would not only lift up those who suffer from it now but also be somewhat of a deterrent because the ones who commit them would know that the money is coming from their hard earned tax dollars. As a taxpayer who does not commit such things I wouldn't mind that my money would be going to this too because I feel that those who are victims should receive a helping hand to put them back on their feet. However it shouldn't only be for African Americans but rather any victim of racism. Not only that, it should be for those who are oppressed for sexual orientation, gender bias, and religious persecution.

  3. #3


    My argument is, to pay whom? And why?

    • This payment is going to be made from across the board taxes, this invariably will include all African Americans.
    • Mega wealthy like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama, will be qualified recipients of this fund, while minimum wage will have to contribute to it.
    • There are no living ex-slaves to benefit by receipt of this fund. Given that slavery was finally abolished in 1865, it would be safe to assume that there are no living persons in America today who ever met let alone knew any slaves.
    • Slavery now only lives in folklore, but this new taxation will help maintain an underclass in today’s society, by marginalizing the lower social economic classes even more.

  4. #4


    No thats rediculous, none of my ancestors ever owned a Slave, nor have I.
    Why should Those who didnt cause the problem be punished for it? That only causes more problems (Post WWI Germany for example)

    Sorry If this sounds Harsh- But Slavery is over, there is NO POINT in bitching about it now because what happened happened, the only thing we can do is make sure it doesn't happen again.

  5. #5


    I believe that repartation policies do nothing but inhibit the growth of a group. In my own experience the federal government does little but inhibit the growth of any group it tries to help. Native Americans, for the most part, live in poverty despite signing treaties that gaurantee federal aid. I am in the camp that the best help comes from self help and any group that tries to suckle from the tit of the feds will be starved and left wanting. The only way to ensure the future of the group is to grasp the concept that the future of the group rests in the hand of the people within and not those that offer reparations, aid, or treaties.

  6. #6


    Even if your ancestors DID own slaves, fining you (and the rest of us....) to pay reparations is punishing the son for the sins of the father. That's clearly counter to any legal precedent in our system.

    If someone wanted to press the issue, you could make just as strong a case that the descendents of slave owners are owed reparations for the conversion of their property, just as the city or state has to pay you for property taken for the common good under eminent domain.

    The last slave (and slaveowner!) died at least a generation ago, and I can't imagine that there are very many offspring of either still living. Its over.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by acorn View Post
    There are no living ex-slaves to benefit by receipt of this fund. Given that slavery was finally abolished in 1865, it would be safe to assume that there are no living persons in America today who ever met let alone knew any slaves.
    I agree with your overall premise.

    However, I just wanted to point out that a slave who was 15 years old in 1865 (and don't you think for one minute the kids didn't get worked as hard as the parents) and lived to a ripe old age of, say, 85 (not unreasonable), could have met all sorts of people born prior to 1930 (putting them at least age 5 when this old cat died), and it's completely reasonable to expect that the younger people he/she met in the twilight of his/her years may well be alive today in their 80's. Maybe someone's great-grandfather was a slave, and that someone is now in the sunset of their own life, telling their great-grandchildren the stories he once told them.

    PS: There is documentation to support the above hypothetical and far more liberal estimates...

    Thinkerum Gatherum: America's Oldest Surviving Slave

    In a 1951 issue of a North Carolina newspaper, I found a reference to Alfred Blackburn, who died at the age of 109, as the oldest surviving slave in the state of North Carolina, although not the United States as a whole.

    In addition, I found a second story from 1966 about a women named Mary Walker from Chattanooga, Tennessee who was certified as "America's oldest student" when she learned to read at the age of approximately 116 years old. According to the article, she outlived a son who died in his nineties, so her claim is definitely the most credible I've seen. Even if she was "merely" 110 years old at the time, it's possible that she would still be the most credible claimant to being the world's oldest slave..
    Now, suddenly, you have people who could be as young as late 40's and early 50's today that knew Mary Walker, or more definitively in their late 60's today that knew Alfred Blackburn.

  8. #8


    I think slaves should receive millions of dollars. I'm one such slave, working as a teacher assistant for damn little money. All joking aside, I have to agree that there are no living slaves, so why would you pay their descendants? There was a push in the 70's to make up for the injustices of slavery, and the problems it caused. In many places, it was encouraged to hire minorities over the white majority. Universities were expected to enroll a certain percentage of minorities, even if they had lower grades.

    It has been difficult for minorities to overcome their heritage. Slaves were not allowed to read and write, and teaching a slave how to read would be punished. Is it any surprise that minorities fall behind others in reading when starting school. If a small child isn't read to at home, he starts behind others in kindergarten and first grade. We are, to a large degree, a product of our heritage, our culture and our history.

    When I was in kindergarten, one of my classmates had a living grandfather who fought in the Civil War. My great uncle fought in the civil war, though he was no longer living when I came along. His wife was, however, and my dad used to take her ice for her ice box. Yes, she had a real ice box.

    I don't think black people should be paid reparations, but I do think we need to recognize that many still live under the effects of slavery, even though it was terminated more than 150 years ago. Old lifestyles die hard. Think what we have inherited from our great, great grandparents, and take for granted, so much so that we give it, and who we are, little thought.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by WBDaddy View Post
    While not wishing to cast aspersions, the recorded dates of birth of what was seen as no more than livestock seems very precise. In short I would demand that the slave owners records or books verify any claim, as these are the only records that could be trusted for accuracy.

    As a rule of thumb, hard manual labour and/or belonging to a lower social economic class is not conducive to longevity. I will concede two points however;

    • There is always at least one fly in the ointment.
    • You in America, may have had a better standard of health care back in the 1800s.

  10. #10


    I should not have money taken from my paycheck and given to someone else for what happened in the Victorian era. I don't even think my family has been on the continent that long.

    I'm a student working 24 hours a week and doing 32 hours of school a week; 56 hours of work. Others can too.

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