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Can meaningful reparations be made for slavery in the US?

(30 Posts)
Tinkerbell456 Wed 03-Apr-19 03:51:38

Let me start by saying that, obviously, slavery is abhorrent. The idea that anyone can own someone else is disgusting. There is a suggestion afoot that dependents of slaves should be compensated. I just don’t see how compensating African Americans for slavery is meaningful. Of course, there should be acknowledgement of the suffering caused. However, compensating living African Americans for it really achieves nothing, in my view. The idea that living people have to take responsibility for the actions of their ancestors is rather strange to me. Actions that living ancestors did not do and would never condone. Absolutely, condemn long ago injustices. However, use them as a learning experience in how not to repeat such terrible acts.

BeanBag7 Wed 03-Apr-19 04:15:56

I agree. I know little about American politics and history so I may be missing some if the issues here, but giving someone financial compensation for physical/ mental hardship doesn't make a lot of sense to me anyway. When the hardship wasn't even suffered by them but by an ancestor hundreds of years ago, it's even less meaningful.

Also the number of people looking for compensation would far outweigh the number of people actually involved at the time.

Dana28 Wed 03-Apr-19 05:39:48

Stupid idea

Cheeserton Wed 03-Apr-19 05:48:09

Depends. In the direct sense of paying people compensation, no - bad idea. How would it even work in practical terms? Who would even decide who got what?

In terms of things like boosting investment in education for minorities who clearly still do carry a burden of centuries of discrimination and racism (USA was still practicing segregation well into the last century don't forget), investing in social programs, job opportunities for those who do still have one arm tied behind their back when it comes to progression - not such a silly idea.

Tinkerbell456 Wed 03-Apr-19 06:03:23

Agree Cheeserton. I don’t see how monetary compensation would change a thing. I do agree about social programmes aimed at boosting access to health, education and employment too. Totally accept that African Americans still suffer discrimination and disadvantage in many areas.

Frenchfancy Wed 03-Apr-19 06:07:23

I think if anyone should be paying it should be the rich families in Europe and Britain who got rich because of the slave and sugar trade.

Jessgalinda Wed 03-Apr-19 06:12:41

I think if anyone should be paying it should be the rich families in Europe and Britain who got rich because of the slave and sugar trade.

Alot of these families dont reside in Britain any longer. And the ones who are no longer rich, who would you pursue? That wealth is likely spread across the world.

I am on either side of this ancestral fence. I an Irish and understand that we have been heavily damaged by the Englishso no live lost there, ancestrally. My dad is English but can trace his family back to Vikings. They were known for slavery as well

I dont believe making individuals pay, because their ancestors did something wrong is right.

I bet, at some point at least one of our ancestors has done something we consider horrific.

I just wonder where our responsibilities stops

Tinkerbell456 Wed 03-Apr-19 06:26:57

Jessgalinda, you do have to wonder where it would end. I think we all have a responsibility to learn from the mistakes of history and avoid repeating them though.

Jessgalinda Wed 03-Apr-19 06:30:10

I think we all have a responsibility to learn from the mistakes of history and avoid repeating them though.

100% agree.

PregnantSea Wed 03-Apr-19 06:33:01

I think it's utterly pointless. Every race has been a slave at some point. Slavery is still rampant right now in several African countries. Slavery is disgusting and we need to remember our history to try and avoid repeating the same mistakes. However reparations to the African American community aren't going to help that, and I think that those efforts may be better spent trying to stamp out slavery that is happening in the world right now.

Uptheduffagai Wed 03-Apr-19 06:36:10

Germany paid millions to Israel.
South Africa paid to victims of the Apartheid.
America paid Japan for the war camps.
Obama paid to holocaust survivors.

But when reparations are wanted for slavery black people are told to forget their history and get over it because it was so long ago.

Yes of course reparations should be paid, the black community wholeheartedly needs and deserves them.

Flaverings Wed 03-Apr-19 06:39:27

This discussion can be used as a pretty thinly veiled cover for racism. “How would it work? Black people and liberals are so stupid”, “White people are being victimised, blamed for the behaviour of their ancestors”.

So I’m wondering just how real and new and reputable this latest reparations news report is.

colehawlins Wed 03-Apr-19 06:44:38

* I think if anyone should be paying it should be the rich families in Europe and Britain who got rich because of the slave and sugar trade.*

As opposed to the rich American families who made their wealth from slave-grown cotton and tobacco? Any particular reason you're letting those beneficiaries of slavery off the hook?

Cheeserton Wed 03-Apr-19 06:50:42

I don't think that questioning how this would work in practical terms need be viewed as racist.

I also don't think it's directly comparable to war situations either, for example, owing to the very significant differences in the passage of time, the fact that clearly not all African Americans are the descendants of slaves (first or second gen immigrants, for example). What about mixed race people? Should they get less? There are many valid considerations that complicate this way more than most other reparation considerations. Wondering about these aspects is not the same as calling people stupid for asking.

Tinkerbell456 Wed 03-Apr-19 06:53:39

Flaverings, not just white folks. I imagine it would be funded by taxpayers, who include Native Americans, Hispanic Americans etc.

Lanaa Wed 03-Apr-19 07:08:01

Reparations absolutely should be paid. Remember that the slave owners got to keep their land and generational wealth even though slavery ended. They still love off the profits of slavery to this day. Black Americans and Afro Caribbean's have never been compensated and were never given a fair chance to build generational wealth.

It's interesting that when people mention this subject, the closet racists appear to try and minimise and quiet black voices/experiences.

Cheeserton Wed 03-Apr-19 07:10:01

But to who, how? Do you have answers to the practical questions, or just shout racism?

Guavaf1sh Wed 03-Apr-19 07:12:41

It’s totally impossible to arrange such a thing. It’s too long ago. Comparison with the third Reich is meaningless as there are people alive today from that time. We should recognise slavery for the horror that it was but trying to arrange utterly unworkable reparations is utterly insulting to black people and 100% impossible to arrange as there are no perpetrators left alive.

Gingerkittykat Wed 03-Apr-19 07:19:25

I 100% agree that the wealth and privilege gained by slave owning families trickles down through the generations, and the lack of opportunity still affects African Americans today.

I honestly don't see how to justly compensate people though, I would very much like those who are still at the top partly due to this wealth recognise it.

The same could be said of many wealthy landowners in this country too who have not only profited from slavery but terrible conditions of industries such as mining where the lives of those at the bottom were terrible.

AdoreTheBeach Wed 03-Apr-19 07:19:57

So, do we also include the Jews who were slaves in Egypt? Let’s not forget the lower caste in India, the Barbary slaves (White Europeans enslaved by black North Africans) and of course, the spaces in Ancient Rome.

USA is also made up of a mix of immigrants. Huge numbers coming in 1800’s and early 1900s from ireland, Italy, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia - long after slavery abolished so had nothing to do with this. Oh and let’s not forget the indentured Servants.

So where does it end?

In recent years huge numbers coming from India, Central America. So these prople’s Ancestors didn’t partake in the African American Slave trade.

Many states were admitted after the American civil war (many were admitted without slavery) and the American civil war was largely fought over slavery (largely, not entire reasons). Huge numbers of men lost their lives fighting for the freedom of slaves. Why should these descendants pay reparations?

Unfinishedkitchen Wed 03-Apr-19 07:22:09

Black people still suffer from the legacy of slavery and related injustices to this day.

Black people in America and the Caribbean have never benefitted from generational wealth. Their ancestors labour was stolen for free for 400 years, that’s a lot of back pay which should go to their descendants. Entire cities like Liverpool were built on their backs. It’s time things were evened up.

zsazsajuju Wed 03-Apr-19 07:23:31

I have to see I think this is not practical at least in respect of paying cash to people living now. The people who profited from it and the victims are long dead. Noone is responsible for actions of their ancestors. Who would we give the reparations to? What about those who have both slave owner and slave as ancestors? Should we penalise them because their great great grandfather raped their great great grandmother?

Who is going to pay? Can we really link peoples personal wealth directly to slavery now? What about inheritance tax their families have paid - do we deduct them?

I think there is no good answer to this. We can’t directly financially compensate people for something that happened to their ancestors or that was done by their ancestors who are long dead. It’s nothing to do with racism.

00100001 Wed 03-Apr-19 07:24:11

But surely then people on Africa should pay for slavery too. There were Africans that took part in this too.

What about the Russiann and Balkan slaves that worked alongside African slaves in the Mediterranean?

Shouldn't Haiti pay too? They had twice the number of African slaves?

It's not as simple as it seems.

Gruffin Wed 03-Apr-19 07:34:45

What about the Arab slavetrade frim Africa. Surely there you have an enormous wealth? The Arabs got around 16 million slaves from Africa and was on a greater scale than to the USA.

Tinkerbell456 Wed 03-Apr-19 07:41:37

I’m half English and half Irish. I’m due from the Italians, every Scandinavian country and er.... the Irish ( who enslaved English folk occasionally).

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