Slavery Reparations Are Wrong



Ladies and gentlemen; I don't believe that anyone in this

chamber would move to disagree with the idea that slavery was an

atrocity, committed from the depths of the darkest parts of the human

sole. Africans were seized from their native land, and sold into

lives of servitude into a foreign land. Indeed, it was a tragedy on

such a scale that cannot be measured nor quantified. And it is this

very notion of unquantifiable tragedy which speaks to the matter of

reparations for slavery. To be quite blunt, reparations, even if they

may be deserved, are not feasible under any system or economic tangent

- indeed such an undertaking would only not remedy the situation, but

it would sink Africa and her people deeper into the cycle of poverty

and oppression that they have so struggled to free themselves. While

the arguments against reparations may seem shallow or self-serving to

advocates of such a system, upon examination, the logistics of what to

give, and whom to distribute it to, preclude any potential benefits of

such a system of indemnity and requite. The point of the follow

critique is not to say that Africans were not mistreated, nor that

they are not worthy of reparations, but that perhaps reparations are

not an adequate solution to this situation, and indeed will only serve

to worsen.

Africa is a continent in dire straits. European colonization

and colonialism damaged the native structure and society - some might

say that this simply proves that European man caused, and ought to pay

for, the damages done to Africa and her people. However, I would

argue that simply placing a 'band-aid' blanket over Africa, would

serve only to mask their problems, and relieve us of our guilt. It

was this same attitude that the early European missionaries took with

Africa - that they are not capable of dealing with their own problems

and situations. Authors suggest that reparations should take the form

of capital transfers and African status in the International Monetary

Fund (Mazuri, 22). Does this sound like mending the deep running

wounds and damage done to Africa, or like a transfer of monetary funds

in order to "fix" Africa? Indeed, this idea of presenting money to

Africa in order to "apologize" for what we have done is nothing more

than a quick fix solution - it is not a long-term remedy for the

underlying structural damage. The very center of Africa has been

changed, for better or for worse. Surface solutions, while some may

claim they are "a good beginning" or perhaps just a token of our

apologetic state, will only further social damage and entrench abusive

African regimes. A cognate situation with African Americans is with

that of Afrocentric history (Asante, 174); many suggest that perhaps

we ought to provide black student with their own curriculum, such as

to instill in them a sense of pride that will improve their education.

The U.S. News and World Report comments:



"The Afrocentric curriculum is usually presented as an

attempt to develop pride in black children by giving them a racial

history? But what kind of pride and self-esteem is likely to grow

from false history? And how much more cynical will black children

be if they discover that they have been conned once again, only

this time by Afrocentrists? ? It is a sure-fire formula for

separatism and endless racial animosity (Leo, 26)"



This author suggests that indeed, conferring upon youths of African

descent their own "different" history will not only further the racial

segregation, but also provide them with a false sense of history,

fueling the animosity. If the rest of the world were to suddenly step

down and bestow upon Africa special privileges and grants, it would

only create a sense among the global village that Africans are

'different' and require some sort of special assiezce in order to

succeed. This type of compensatory system would not only be

insufficient to ever repay blacks for the injustice to them, but also

further the rigid separatism that plagues African Americans today -

what they need is equality, not special programs catered to what

guilty-feeling Europeans feel they "owe" them.

Aside from any philosophical or idea-based arguments against

reparations, there exist a number of logistical barriers to repaying

blacks for their suffering. Immediate questions arise in the realm