A Case For Reparations
A Case For Reparations
By Olivia Fletcher
Would you still consider Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps, in such high regard if he only won each race due to a head start? I doubt it. What makes Olympic races so special is each countries' competitors' equal opportunity to win. Americans would be outraged if another athlete won an Olympic race due to a head start. Nobody would take the Olympics seriously because it would be blatantly unfair. If head starts are clearly recognized as unfair in sports, then why do we so easily view life head starts as fair and just?
The head start I'm drawing parallel to is the generational wealth white people continue to benefit from while black people remain miles away in the race for the American Dream. For example, data shows that black people are less likely to own homes, graduate colleges, and have a lower median household income than white people. It’s no secret that home ownership and a college degree are important to build generational wealth. However, black people are still disproportionately disadvantaged in comparison to white people when it comes to acquiring both.
Many people call for justice through means of reparations, defined by Oxford languages as “the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.”.
A common rebuttal to reparations is that it's too late for it to be considered, noting the current generation of humanity isn’t directly responsible for slavery. However, this ignores recent issues like Jim Crow Laws and Redlining which are still affecting the black community today.
In addition to black people being financially disadvantaged, bias (both conscious and unconscious) negatively affects the chances black people have at succeeding, and thus, their right to the pursuit of happiness. According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, “one out of every three Black boys born today can expect to be sentenced to prison, compared 1 out 6 Latino boys; one out of 17 white boys.”.
The Urban Institute found “the gap between the black and white homeownership rates in the United States has increased to its highest level in 50 years, from 28.1 percentage points in 2010 to 30.1 percentage points in 2017.” If nothing is done about this, then the inequality gap will only continue to increase. Reparations could help resolve this issue and many more. I, along with others, argue that reparations are the most plausible way of helping the black community obtain an equal shot at the American Dream.
The winner of the 2020 election will make a significant difference on how the US handles reparations. Joe Biden is willing to look into the study reparations while President Trump announced he “does not see it happening.”. Other candidates like Marianne Williamson, who dropped out of the election on Jan. 10, advocated for completely skipping the study and proposed reparations of up to $500 billion be made to the descendants of slaves.
White people have inherited generational wealth from their ancestors at the expense of black people inheriting poverty. It is our duty as citizens of a country that prides itself on equal opportunity, to ensure each person has an equal shot at the American Dream. A fair shot that starts when disadvantaged citizens receive reparations.