October 28, 2007

Reparations: Essential Fight or Foolish Distraction?

The subject of reparations for slavery came up at the Afrosphere Blog. Like many other things, I've got strong views about reparations, so of course I took a moment to respond to the post. I reprint it below:

The pursuit of reparations is nothing more than a distraction and diversion from black people tackling the problems which confront us. Education, employment, family crisis, crime in our neighborhoods and a host of other issues are destroying us. Reparations is not a strategy for solving these problems. As a practical matter, winning reparations is an unwinnable political contest. Short of the political and economic foundation of the United States shifting in some cosmic way, actually winning and receiving reparations is simply not going to happen. Pursuing it in my view is a nearly criminal waste of time that could be infinitely better spent doing a host of far more useful things….mentoring our kids, more brothers actually raising the children they father, taking collective action to rebuild our communities and so much more.

To focus on reparations is to focus on the past in a manner that is not useful or effective in solving the problems of today. Its time wasted when we could be doing so many things right now that would be successful in creating better lives and opportunities for us. Its not a winning political issue, its not a relevant strategy for addressing any of the social or economic ills we suffer and it keeps us focused as a people on the injustice of the past and our exploitation. Enough! As a people, we are abdicating our responsibility for ourselves and our own destiny to focus on a victim status that it is time to shed. Racism and injustice are real and should be fought, but the bitter truth is that a lot of whats going wrong with us is fixable based purely on what WE are prepared to do for ourselves. It is time to throw away the pipe dream of reparations and focus like a laser beam on tried and true strategies like marrying our women, raising our kids, creating our own businesses, educating ourselves and more. Congressional hearings on reparations and the damage of slavery to guilt the country into paying us money is not the strategy I want to bank the future of my family, neighborhood and community on, not when there are so many things we COULD be doing right now that we are not. Reparations. Hah! C’mon people, its time to get our heads out of our ass.