Sunday, November 15, 2015

Too Many Unanswered Questions

I was a part of a discussion recently about reparations being made for slavery in the US, and I objected to the idea based on the fact that a) the last person we can confirm was a slave in this country died sometime around 1958, and b) the last person we can confirm was a slave owner died a lot longer ago than that.  Its my feeling that the people who owe reparations are the people who perpetrated the crime, and they are owed directly to their victims.

Anyway, the most vocally person arguing for such things was using a lot of sneering derision when it came to white people, but when called on it told me that racism required power, therefore black people could not be racist.  And besides, this was about the legacy of slavery, not his feelings about white people.

Eventually, he stopped issuing his vile racist nonsense and actually started talking about the legacy of slavery, basically saying that he, personally, was owed millions of dollars because of ancestors who were slaves and that he was affected by its legacy and all that (despite not being able to actually pin down how he was affected).

So I asked him the following questions:  If, as he said, it was all about the legacy of slavery and not about his feelings of hatred for white people, then:

1.  How did his plan for reparations for slavery being paid by the "descendants of slave owners" to the "descendants of slaves" affect those descendants of white slaves in this country?  Because the original slaves in the colonies that would eventually become the United States were criminals, mostly white, from the United Kingdom who were sold into a lifetime of slavery on plantations in the colonies as a part of their criminal sentence.

2.  How did his plan for reparations for slavery being paid by the "descendants of slave owners" to the "descendants of slaves" affect those descendants of black slave owners in this country?  Because there were a not-insignificant number of black people in this country prior to universal manumission who owned and kept slaves for the exact same reason the white folk did:  to work their farms and plantations and to act as servants.

3.  How did his plan for reparations for slavery being paid by the "descendants of slave owners" to the "descendants of slaves" take into account those people who were not only the descendants of slave owners, but who were simultaneously the descendants of slaves?  Would such people be forced to pay reparations to themselves?  Or did his plan use some demented version of the "one drop rule" where, if even one of a person's ancestors was a slave owner, they count as a slave owner regardless of what the rest of the person's ancestry was?

4.  How did his plan for reparations for slavery being paid by the "descendants of slave owners" to the "descendants of slaves" take into account those people whose ancestors were neither slave nor slave owner?  It would be unfair to force people who were not involved in slavery at all to pay reparations, just as it would be unfair to grant reparations to people who did not deserve them.  And if you're assuming all white people (as this young man did) are responsible for slavery even when they did not actually own slaves, we're back to the subject of white slaves.

5.  What measures did his plan for reparations for slavery being paid by the "descendants of slave owners" to the "descendants of slaves" include for taking into account those people whose ancestors came to this country after slavery had ended, and who therefore had no hand in that institution?  Because it would be unfair to force people who were not involved to pay reparations, just as it would be unfair to grant reparations to people who did not deserve them.

Amazingly enough, he didn't have any answers for me.  He just kept beating the "white people are bad" drum, even if he dressed it up in fancy clothes.

No comments:

Post a Comment