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February 26, 2019

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The fourth point is: what mechanisms would you use to prove eligibility? The US population bookkeeping is a bit aloppy, and documenting ancestry to 1865 is a challenging task. And documenting that the ancestor was a freedman in 1865 (and slave in 1861) instead of a free negro is even more challenging. And what about people born out of wedlock, with black, but unknown fathers? How about children who grew up in orphanages, without knowing their parents?

150 years is five to eight generations. For many people who are feeling the effects of racism the most, it is completely impossible to document a slave ancestor, let alone a proportion of those.

Morally, I'm all for reparations paid to black and especially to Native people on the res.

But I think that if the Dem nominee publicly calls for it, Trump will be re-elected.

What mechanisms ?
Target poverty - of families, and of whole communities.

The numbers have to be big enough to begin to be genuine reparation - but eligibility should be by need, not skin colour.

And I believe a Democrat could win on that.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates notes, it's pointless to discuss details until we're agreed as a society that reparations are necessary. If we can agree on that, then is the time to discuss details.

Nigel,

That is not really "reparations" but a general social program. I think it is much better an idea, but it does not mean what "reparations" mean: actual monetary damages paid to the heirs of persons whose fundamental rights were violated.

I think that the reparations is a bad term for several reasons:
a) any politically possible sum of reparations would be just window-dressing to cleanse the conscience of the Americans as a nation. (A just sum would be the total profits of Southern cotton production from 1776 to 1865, plus the profits of Southern prison labour until today, with compound interest calculated on the sum using rates for delayed payment. That would be a sizeable fraction of the US gross wealth.)
b) There is no real way to find all lawful heirs (e.g. Liberian descendants of American slaves, as victims of racism, should be quite as eligible as Black Americans.) There are wrongs that cannot be meaningfully righted.
c) A short-term program does not change anything. A long-term effort to alleviate poverty and increase equality is necessary, but that is not really "reparations". It is simply good policy, that would be necessary even if slavery and Indian genocide had never happened.
d) "Reparations" as a term for social improvements program racialises the issue which would have a lot of white and Hispanic people as recipients. This is especially problematic, because Hispanics, as a class, do not have any claim for historical reparations. Some of them and some of their ancestors have been treated horribly, while some (e.g. upper class New Mexicans) have been part of repression. The Democratic Party is, primarily, a coalition of Hispanic and black people, so there is very little reason to rip that coalition apart by focussing on a term benefitting only one of the groups.

Lurker: Nigel,

That is not really "reparations" but a general social program. I think it is much better an idea, but it does not mean what "reparations" mean: actual monetary damages paid to the heirs of persons whose fundamental rights were violated.

Agreed. And it's true that our current social/economic safety net leaves lots of room for improvement.

It's true that reparations in full are simply impossible. But that doesn't necessarily rule out some symbolic payment (once you figure out who is eligible), combined with a formal apology and acknowledgement that wrong was done. As noted in the original post, that's what Japanese Americans got for the internment.

This is especially problematic, because Hispanics, as a class, do not have any claim for historical reparations.

Perhaps not from the United States, anyway, except maybe for, say, Puerto Ricans if the US were to take on the social debts of other colonizers in places now in US territory. It would be interesting to see how reparations would be handled in places where almost everyone is descended to some degree or another from slaves. (What would be the point?)

The overwhelming majority of (non-Hispanic) people in the US with significant sub-Saharan ancestry are descended from people who were enslaved in the US. But pretty much just them, representing a minority of the population.

I almost certainly am descended from American (AND Caribbean) slaves, even though I'm apparently (to other people in general) white. I wouldn't really expect to be considered for reparations and don't feel as though I would deserve them. But I, assuming I'm right about my ancestry, am in the very small minority of apparently-white people descended from slaves.

All of which is to say that almost all apparently-black Americans should be eligible for any program of reparations for slavery and almost no one else would be. (And, as an aside, that wouldn't hold in other nations in the Americas with histories of slavery. The One-Drop Rule was largely effective and almost exclusively a US phenomenon.)

why should slavery be the one thing for which reparations are made? what about the near-century of Jim Crow, redlining, and all the other institutionalized racism that black Americans have had to labor under?

why should slavery be the one thing for which reparations are made? what about the near-century of Jim Crow, redlining, and all the other institutionalized racism that black Americans have had to labor under?

It probably shouldn't. All of which means that an even more overwhelming majority of black Americans would be eligible.

If the American polity woke up tomorrow infused with a generous spirit, and filled with repugnance for all of the wrongs perpetrated by (mostly) their ancestors, then the details would be unimportant. That imaginary polity might choose to start with a Truth, Reconciliation, and Recompense Commission focusing first on people still living (e.g. family wealth lost to red-lining), immediate family (e.g. survivors of lynching victims, police brutality), while also developing as comprehensive a detailed record as possible for the previous generations going back 527 years or so.

i should have added "as wj points out".

still, i have no idea how fair reparations could work, let alone how Americans would vote to enact it.

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court held that it does not violate equal protection of the laws for public schools to be funded from property taxes, resulting in far more being spent on the children of wealthy parents than of poor children. Rather than reparations, I propose that three times as much be spent on the education of children in inner cities as on the education of children in suburbs.

But I, assuming I'm right about my ancestry, am in the very small minority of apparently-white people descended from slaves.

I wouldn't be so sure about how small that minority is. The benefits of "passing" were so huge (and the costs of being found to have done so were so great) that I suspect there was rather a lot of it -- very, very carefully concealed, of course. May be some real surprises as DNA ancestry testing spreads.

I wouldn't be so sure about how small that minority is.

Ancestry (the DNA testing service) tells me that I am very small single-digit percent West African - Togo and Benin. Which would probably come as a surprise to at least most of my slave-owning and night-riding forbears.

I imagine a hell of a lot of people who come from ancestors who had a lot of contact with slave populations have a similar situation.

I am, however, apparently more Neanderthal than West African. Go figure.

I'm actually not in favor of reparations. Because, were reparations to be paid to African Americans, that would be the end of any effort to actually address the persistent animus toward black people that continues to be part of American daily life.

What we see now is a refusal to acknowledge that it continues to be a significant issue. They have their equal rights, they've had them for fifty years, at this point it's on them if they aren't thriving. They need to get off of their asses and quit acting like victims.

Never heard that?

Imagine if we paid reparations. The above would transform into: you've got your money, we owe you nothing.

I don't think it would actually be to the benefit of the black community.

I generally oppose the idea because I can't imagine any actual dollar value that would be regarded as anything like justice by both the recipients and the givers. Plus when money's on the line you'd need to have some sort of Official Blackness Court to decide who gets how much and who pays how much. I just don't see it working. And contra Ta-Nehisi Coates, I think that if something won't work then it's pointless to claim that it's necessary.

I'm not sure Coates was arguing that it was necessary. I think he was arguing that it was justifiable.

He brought a pretty solid case. IMO. It wasn't much about slavery, per se, at all.

Under the assumption that reparations were to happen, I’d imagine no one would be deemed eligible simply by virtue of a couple percent of sub-Saharan DNA being identified by a DNA test. I got 10% and don’t consider myself deserving, having lived as a white person my entire life, and having had no clue that I even had African ancestry for most of it. Maybe others would just want their check (or whatever).

(Not to mention that a the assignment of a very small precentage might be something, or it might not.)

Reparations needs to take the form of government attention to inequality.

History is full of atrocities, and few of them are narrow enough to allow for reparations to make any sense. It's almost as if the larger and more pervasive the crime was in our culture, the more difficult it is to sort it out.
The Japanese internment was close enough in time, and the victims were identifiable enough, that reparations could be awarded.

Affirmative action, addressing and solving inequalities in health care, environmental justice, etc. - a focus needs to be on those things. It's hard to make reparations when the injustice is so ingrained, and still happening in ways that are too subtle for a lot of people to comprehend. For example, did Mark Meadows even get it today? It seems not.

I don't disagree hsh. Like you, I would have no interest in making any claim. I'd volunteer to pay double, I wasn't kidding about the slave owning and night riding forbears.

If reparations would somehow make people treat each other as they ought, I'd say do it. I think it would just give the folks who don't and won't do so an easy out for not dealing with their own bs.

"Here's your money, now quit bitching."

Also, what are we going to do about things like this?

Maybe first stop doing it?

Some data on DNA results for self-identifying members of different racial/ethnic groups.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002929714004765

1.4% of self-identified European-Americans have >2% sub-Saharan DNA. Lowering the threshold to 1% gets it up to 3.5%.

It appears that 28% is the threshold for sub-Saharan DNA where people largely start self-identifying as African-American.

It appears that 28% is the threshold for sub-Saharan DNA where people largely start self-identifying as African-American.

Any politician who suggested financial reparations based on DNA would not be taken seriously. Since it's a nonstarter, we really should be talking about it in a different way.

I wasn't suggesting that. I was responding to wj's comment that more white people might have black ancestry than I thought. The 28% thing was an aside - something people might find interesting.

But! Don't think for a second that, if reparations were ever to be seriously entertained, that people (politicians or otherwise) wouldn't suggest DNA testing to see who should be eligible, at least for those people who weren't considered to be unambiguously black.

I've never done the DNA thing. All of my ancestry that I know about is English with some Irish/Scottish tossed in. As my Dad used to say, though, "Much of that English came out of the dockside parish in Liverpool. Could be almost anything mixed in there."

I've always been in favor of zero tolerance and draconian penalties for actionable violations of people's civil rights.

Deny someone a job, you got to jail.
Deny someone a mortgage, you go to jail.
Call the cops on someone without cause because they "look suspicious", you pay a stiff civil fine.

And so on. And, of course, none of that would work, and would certainly never be codified into law, because you'd have to define bright lines between what is, and is not, based on perceived race (or other civilly protected category, for that matter).

American history and culture is so deeply steeped in racism that we have a really hard time recognizing it, or agreeing about what it actually is. Was Meadow's invitation to Lynn Patton to attend Cohen's hearing racist?

Many if not most people of color will not only say "yes", they'll shake their heads in resignation that it's even a question.

Many if most white people will say no, it's not, quite the opposite.

Look, the Trumps have a black friend, how can they be racist?

The fact that you can think and act in racist ways *without having any animus towards people of color whatsoever* seems beyond the capacity of folks to understand. The fact that social, cultural, and legal institutions and norms can be disadvantageous to people of color, *without the folks living them out having any particular ill will toward people of color*, likewise.

The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and all the rest of it is not something that can be "made right". It's a historical fact, with consequences that continue to this day. We can't go back in time and un-do it . We can't "make up for it" by throwing money at people of color.

We need to change ourselves. We need to change how we treat each other. What I suggest as a beginning is that we actually listen to people of color and believe them when they say certain behaviors, attitudes, language, social norms, are denigrating and hurtful to them.

They are actually the ones who know how they receive all of that. The rest of us are not in a position to interpret their own experience for them.

And then go from there.

But I don't think it will ever be made whole. Our history as a nation includes, among many other things, genocide and treating humans like cattle. For centuries. It's not something you "make right", it's something you recognize, acknowledge, and allow to inform how you proceed going forward.

We haven't gotten past the "recognize" part yet.

We got a long way to go.

[they] have a black friend, how can they be racist?

People have an incredible capacity to treat individuals that they actually know personally as exceptions to their deeply held prejudices about the category (of whatever kind: race, religion, gender, etc., etc.) about groups that those individuals are part of.

All without the slightest change in their views of the group. One of the amazing parts of the swing in sentiment regarding gay marriage was the number of folks who did change their views when they discovered that an immediate family member, specifically an adult child (minor children didn't seem to move them as much), was gay.

I've never done the DNA thing. All of my ancestry that I know about is English with some Irish/Scottish tossed in. As my Dad used to say, though, "Much of that English came out of the dockside parish in Liverpool. Could be almost anything mixed in there."

It can be fascinating. My siblings gave me a test for my birthday a while back. (No idea how the idea came to them.) Turns out one of our great-grandparents was Ashkenazi. We had no clue. Still have only guesses as to which it was.

As several people have said above, reparations are due for more than slavery. The barriers to "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners sitting down together at the table of brotherhood" lasted well into living memory. Almost all the baby boomers were born under Jim Crow laws. Some of the millennials were born in redlined neighborhoods, in addition to all those growing up where segregation lingered as an after-effect of redlining.

I would expect even more political resistance to this kind of fair reparations, than to the concept of "let's find individuals who can prove their great-grandparents were slaves and give them some cash." So many Americans think they didn't benefit from slavery because their ancestors were too poor to have owned slaves, or they came to this country after 1870. But we mostly did benefit from Jim Crow and redlining.

I note that, when reparations were paid to Japanese Americans who were interned, the amount ($20,000) was a bit more than symbolism – even if inadequate to the actual harm done.

There are about 37M non-Hispanic blacks in the US. Assume for argument that 30M of them would be eligible for a broad reparation program. Assume that the amount is $50,000, which probably meets the same conditions you mentioned (inadequate, but more than merely symbolic). The bottom line would be $1.5T. The politics of "We're going to give the black people one-and-a-half trillion dollars" is going to be a difficult sell. And that's how it's going to be painted in much of the country.

And that's how it's going to be painted in much of the country.

We already live with the mythology of young bucks and welfare queens. Still.

Reparations would just be more fuel for that fire.

I do not say there is not an argument for them, and I think the argument laid out by Coates was excellent. Mostly because he did not argue from slavery, but from actions and policies that happened in a lot of people's living memory.

But because I think it would actually end up being a step backward. Because folks will look for any reason to not address their own prejudices.

Was it racist for Mark Meadows to have talked about sending Obama back to Kenya?

Was it racist for Gov. Northam's wife to hand out cotton to black children on a governor's mansion tour, and ask them to imagine being enslaved and required to pick cotton all day?

Does it matter if Meadows or Mrs. Northam harbor any hostility toward blacks?
Does it matter what their intentions were when they did these things?

Should black people just stop being so sensitive?
Who gets to decide what makes something "racist" or not?

EXACTLY equal total reparations for slave-descendants and slave-owner-deprived-of-property-descendants.

About the only way to defuse the problems russell cites.

russell's two examples:

Yes, it was racist for Mark Meadows to have talked about sending Obama back to Kenya, obviously. Birther, etc.

Whether it was racist for Pam Northam to hand out cotton to middle schoolers, some of whom were African-American, and ask them to try to imagine how it must have felt to be forced to pick cotton all day, is a question that is a lot more difficult.

Unlike someone who is promoting lies about our first African-American president, Northam was attempting to show how African-Americans were abused by being forced to pick cotton (which is prickly, and painful to touch). Maybe it's my own privilege, but I find it pretty easy to allow someone the benefit of the doubt about this.

@Snarki @1:46: I know that pointing it out isn't the same as agreeing with it, but to whatever extent anyone thinks that should be a serious proposal, I would say: no fucking way.

"Defusing the problem" in that way would be collaborating with the morally monstrous notion that someone can legitimately claim property rights in other human beings. If anyone was vile enough to spend their money on that assumption, I'm not reimbursing them for their immorality and stupidity.

To contribute to reparations based on the fact that as a white person I have benefited unfairly from a system that has kept other people from being full participants in and beneficiaries of our public life and our wealth as a nation -- that I would be willing to do. But I think russell and others are right that reparations, as such, won't work.

Last fall I was talking with someone in my family about the book "Killers of the Flower Moon," which is about the (possibly hundreds of) murders, by white officials and businessmen of various kinds, of members of the Osage tribe to facilitate theft of their oil wealth. From another room another family member hollered that this was why "they" should stop bitching about things like the name of the Washington DC NFL team. I mean, it used to be so much worse! They should be grateful it's not the bad old days!

We've heard a lot of that strand of thinking right here over the years....

russell's 10:50 just about says it all.

I might give Pam Northam more of the benefit of the doubt if it had been white kids she was trying to educate about what slavery was like.

I think it was a mixed group of kids and she was handing cotton out. If it wasn't random, maybe that's a problem. If she'd only handed it to white kids, that would also been offensive.

It used to be true that tours of the great southern mansions would ignore the fact of slavery altogether. Now (finally) there's an effort made to acknowledge that enslaved people built these mansions, and they couldn't have been run without their labor. An attempt to describe something about their lives is being made. Maybe white docents shouldn't be leading African-American visitors on these tours? I think it's problematic to suggest that white people can't describe the horrors of slavery to a mixed group touring a southern mansion.

"Defusing the problem" in that way would be collaborating with the morally monstrous notion that someone can legitimately claim property rights in other human beings. If anyone was vile enough to spend their money on that assumption, I'm not reimbursing them for their immorality and stupidity.

Consider the long history of slavery, across numerous nations and cultures. It's hardly stupidity for someone raised in one of those cultures to think that people as property is legitimate.

And while it's obvious to us that it's a morally reprehensible idea, it wasn't always so. I agree that it was immoral. I can't agree that it was obvious. Especially since their moral guide from their religion (the Bible) discusses how to treat slaves, without suggesting that the whole institution might be somehow wrong.

I have much to say on this subject, but no time at the moment, except to point out that whatever restraint and realism I have on the subject is sorely tested every time a usual suspect opens his gob:

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2019/02/electoral-college-exists-uphold-white-supremacy

As for Meadows and his "plan" to repatriate Barack Obama to Kenya ... which was the go-to solution for the "slave problem" held even by Lincoln in his musings, my prescription would be launching a personal Civil street violence War on Meadows and punching his face in a la Mike Tyson's "everyone has a plan until he gets punched in the face".

We'll call it "an example of reparation in lieu of reparations" and if he'd like to call in Second Amendment self defense, so much the better.

If you are going to target the victims of discrimination, you must include anyone who isn't recognizably "white" regardless of ancestral history as a slave. Someone like Obama would be discriminated against as recognizably "black" - the criterion for racists is not history.

And if the criterion for reparations is a history of discrimination in the past, why confine this to slavery? And how could you know who had such a history?

This is just a fraction of the practical problems of reparations based on past act, instead of action based on current of lifetime discrimination, which big enough and complicated enough.

wj @2:36: None of that changes my bottom line: I would not willingly contribute a penny to reimbursing them or their descendants for the loss of their "property." They (like me) have still been on the plus side of the ledger in terms of the built-in racism of our institutions.

sapient @2:27: Thought-provoking points, but the linked article says that it was African-Americans who complained. What becomes of russell's point that we should listen to them about how this kind of thing impacts them?

I don't have an answer, which is a tiny measure of how little I imagine the US will have an answer that works for a significant enough percentage of us to make real change.

sapient @2:27: Thought-provoking points, but the linked article says that it was African-Americans who complained. What becomes of russell's point that we should listen to them about how this kind of thing impacts them?

I don't have an answer, which is a tiny measure of how little I imagine the US will have an answer that works for a significant enough percentage of us to make real change.

I think we need to listen to people, but we need to have a conversation afterwards because there are problems with honoring people's sensitivities when dealing about issues that are inherently sensitive. It's similar to the conversation about trigger warnings. There are obvious situations where "trigger warnings" or warnings about content are appropriate. There are less obvious situations where some people might be truly hurt, but we have to work around that after the fact rather than anticipate every potential slight.

One African-American student was offended, believing that Pam Northam's gesture was racist. One African-American supporter of Trump stood there as an exhibit for Mark Meadows at the Cohen hearing to prove that Donald Trump wasn't racist. We certainly should listen, but we can also make some assessment based on our own sense of good will and common sense.

We certainly should listen, but we can also make some assessment based on our own sense of good will and common sense.

Who is "we"? Everyone who is not a person of color? Why does that particular "we" get to decide what is acceptable, and what isn't?

I don't really have any good answers either, where for "good answer" please read "a comprehensive solution to the problem". Or even "a clue about what a comprehensive solution would look like".

The only thing I notice about all of this is that we - meaning all of us, everyone living in this country - are not even close to on the same page about any of this - what is and isn't wrong thinking or behavior, what does and does not need to be addressed in the public arena, what we have to just live with as a regrettable part of human nature.

People of color appear to live with a sense that they're not getting a fair shake. It seems to me that they have reason to feel that way. But I'm not really in a position to speak for them.

When they speak for themselves, I think we should at least hear them. Or try to.

Trying to answer the question about whether Pam Northam's gesture was racist or not is perhaps not to the point. Maybe what would be more to the point would be asking the kid who complained what it was about it that bothered him or her. And then go from there.

Instead of arguing about whether X or Y or Z is "racist" or not, maybe just hear that *certain things that people say or do are hurtful to other people*. Whatever label they choose to put on it, the point is that some things that people say or do make other people feel threatened, or dismissed, or not recognized.

Maybe try to hear what those things are, and why they create those perceptions and reactions. Rather than argue about whether offense was intended or not.

None of that changes my bottom line: I would not willingly contribute a penny to reimbursing them or their descendants for the loss of their "property." They (like me) have still been on the plus side of the ledger in terms of the built-in racism of our institutions.

I quite agree, actually. But I think it damages the discussion to engage in moral outrage about long-dead people whose culture and morals happen to differ from our own.

Our morals, like theirs, are based in significant part on the culture we live in. What is "obvious" to us is nothing like what was, or is, obvious to someone of a very different background. Unless you are basing your morality on something that you can demonstrate was handed down from on high, and so applies to every time and place, you need to keep that in mind. Condemn the deeds, certainly. But don't assume that those others must have known that what they did was reprehensible, because "everybody knows" it is. As so often with "everybody knows", everybody doesn't.

wj, you keep going on about what's "obvious" -- initially in a response to a comment of mine, and now again in a response to a comment of mine. Just to be clear, I never used the word "obvious." I said what I felt, which was in response to a Snarki (and maybe snarky) comment about giving reparations to slave-owners as well as slaves. I consider that to be an outrageous notion, and I expressed my outrage. Since my outrage is "damaging the discussion," I will remove myself from the discussion.

Bye.

How about if "we" is inclusive? A shared discussion and eventually a conclusion where everyone's voice has been heard? Why is it we always devolve to "why should that group decide?".

That group should decide because that group is all of us.

A shared discussion and eventually a conclusion where everyone's voice has been heard?

I would call that the best possible outcome.

Mike Tyson's "everyone has a plan until he gets punched in the face".

When A J Ayer intervened to try to stop Naomi Campbell from being raped by Mike Tyson, and Tyson objected to the shrimpy little old white guy interfering by saying, "Do you know who the fuck I am? I'm the heavyweight champion of the world," Ayer replied, "And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic. We are both pre-eminent in our field. I suggest that we talk about this like rational men", which enabled Campbell to escape. It seems like it was a good (if improvised) plan, and nobody got punched in the face....I quite see that this doesn't further the discussion, but in case I haven't told this story before I thought y'all might find it entertaining!

wj, you keep going on about what's "obvious" -- initially in a response to a comment of mine, and now again in a response to a comment of mine

I thought that saying things were "monstrous" amounted to suggesting that it was so obvious that anyone at the time could/should have seen that. If that was not your intent, I apologize for my misunderstanding.

"A shared discussion and eventually a conclusion where everyone's voice has been heard?"

OK.

Let us now hear the inevitable rousing chorus of the "It's Too Soon To Talk About It Blues"

As with sensible Second Amendment weapons control and limitations, global climate change, voter and ballot box intimidation, and impeachment.

AND, once Grover Norquist and company label a reparations program as a tax on the hard working American people, while twirling a six gun in each hand as preparatory come and get it, you Willie Horton socialists, and which conservatives across the country have signed blood pledges to "NEVER" talk about, ever again, in American history, well right chere, that's what, 39%, or is it 42% of the voices who have a chance to be heard will come down with permanent laryngitis with an accompanying sign language that says Eff Off and the tree of liberty is .. uh huh uh huh.

Liberals, speaking generally, won't be on board with a reparations program either.

Example:

https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/02/liberals-and-climate-change-not-yet-a-happy-marriage/

That's the best true story I've heard in months, gftnc!

Me, I liked Buster Douglas' plan for Mike Tyson:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Tyson_vs._Buster_Douglas

Trying to answer the question about whether Pam Northam's gesture was racist or not is perhaps not to the point.

It actually is. She was attacked for being racist and insufficiently contrite considering her husband's medical school yearbook photo and subsequent confession to appearing in blackface.

People (by that I mean all people) are supposed to learn how to act with other people, including other people who might have had experiences that might make them sensitive about certain topics.

I mentioned the history of southern mansion tours for the reason that "we" (people who are trying to address the continuing problem of racial animus and discrimination) are trying to figure out a way to recognize the existence and contribution of enslaved people, which includes "imagining" their hardships. (Case in point.) I don't understand why it should be offensive to offer that possibility on a tour of a southern mansion. A lot of young people have never been to a farm, much less felt cotton before it has been separated from the boll. It seems useful to me to show them. If it's offensive, I want more discussion of why, and how we should talk about it to an integrated classroom. "Listening" is fine. Now what?

Do you volunteer at Monticello, sapient?

Do you volunteer at Monticello, sapient?

No, but I know people who do. I visit Monticello every couple of years. (It's where our local citizenship ceremony is held every July 4, and where a couple of immigrant friends of mine received their citizenshiop nod.) I've kept track of the Sally Hemings family exhibits and findings (including the first-person account of Madison Hemings regarding Thomas Jefferson and his treatment of enslaved people), and the history of other people who were enslaved there. The history of the African-American community in Charlottesville is also (very recently) starting to be understood. For example, the whole statue phenomenon that inspired the racist protests a few years ago brought to light the fact that the African-American community was a majority of the population during the Civil War, making it especially offensive that R.E.Lee (someone who didn't have a strong connection to C'ville at all, even to the white community) was someone who was honored in the most visible park. So, yes, history is still happening here.

I volunteer at Meals on Wheels and the Legal Aid and Justice Center.

All that said, Ralph Northam (someone who I didn't support in the primary as having too recently been a Republican, and who I called upon to resign before I discovered that Justin Fairfax had been credibly accused of rape) was brought up in an area of Virginia that has an incredibly racist recent history. It's not surprising that he carried some of that until he tried to shed it later after serving in the military and having some life experience, and tried to become a better person (and in many ways succeeded).

Thanks for asking.

Thanks for answering. I’m amused (not in a good way) by the argument that taking down statues of people like Robert E. Lee is erasing history. Somehow history persists despite the lack of Hitler (ever heard of him?) statues in our public squares.

I’m amused (not in a good way) by the argument that taking down statues of people like Robert E. Lee is erasing history.

I've actually had that conversation with people whom I consider to be friends. It was weird that they took the "erasing history" point of view, considering how well educated and "enlightened" they are.

And maybe I'll arrive at a different viewpoint regarding the "cotton picking controversy". I'm just not seeing the way forward with that right now.

It actually is

I, personally, don't see Pam Northam's actions as racist. I see them as an attempt to make history tangible.

Obviously, some folks disagree. How do we move forward?

Do we argue and split hairs about what is "racist" and what isn't? Or do we try to understand why an apparently (to me) innocuous action was felt to be offensive?

I'm phrasing all of this as questions because I don't know the answer. I'm just asking.

If it's offensive, I want more discussion of why

Yes, exactly this.

Without an assumption either that Northam was wrong, or that the kid was wrong.

What was intended? What was received? Why is the gap between those two things so wide?

I agree, russell. I actually agree with all that you've said. I think trying to understand why people might have taken offense to Pam Northam's actions is important.

It is also possible to conclude (and I might be wrong in this instance) that people take refuge in resentment. There are sometimes good reasons for that, but it's not a good instinct in anyone.

Noticing that it's been a couple of hours, and almost my bedtime.

We've not left a great legacy for our children. They need to deal with the problems of race, of various resentments based on other inequalities, nationalism and other weird issues that have always been around, but also climate change, which is going to kill a lot of people (and has already - the nothingburger news story of Puerto Rico, and the forgotten fires of Calironia, either and both of which should have been front and center for two years).

We need to keep our pace steady forward.

Haiti had to reimburse the former masters for the loss of property as pre-condition for independence (AFTER said masters failed to subdue the rebellion even with foreign help).
Haiti still suffers from that.

That something about slavery could not be right was admitted, although indirectly, by the existence of special slave bibles. Slave-holders did not allow access of missionaries to enslaved blacks unless they only used a specially prepared censored version of the Bible leaving out all the stuff (in particular from the NT) that could make the slaves unruly or lead them to questioning black slavery as a divinely sanctioned institution.
Admittedly, the RCC had similar ideas concerning laypeople and the Bible. Even in Central Europe it took until after WW2 before all formal objections to unauthorized bible-reading by non-clerics were dropped (and there are still occasional calls to go back on that).

The Haiti reparation situation is pretty f**ked-up.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/aug/16/haiti-france

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/10/haiti-from-slavery-to-debt/

la résistance à l'oppression my ass...


Paying reparations for slavery in the USA makes no sense to me. One should not be compensated for wrongs done to one's ancestors.

There's a case for paying compensation for racist housing and mortgage practices.

But if it were up to me, I'd cancel Trump's tax cuts, mainly to the rich, and use the money to give $300 each year to everyone in the USA, children included. All those Republicans who claim that increasing the deficit promotes growth would be pleased, since money in the pockets of poor people does much more for growth than money in the pockets of the rich.

All those Republicans who claim that increasing the deficit promotes growth would be pleased, since money in the pockets of poor people does much more for growth than money in the pockets of the rich.

ROTFLMAO!

You might have a chance with "should be pleased." But "would be pleased" [emphasis added]????

First off, consider the difference between "claim" and "believe." Second, note that the final clause, while entirely true (as any competent economist knows), suffers from a conflict with the detail that people routinely believe stuff that is convenient for them, even if demonstrably false.

And Republicans voted against tax cuts in the not too recent past explicitly because too much of it was aimed at lower incomes, i.e. not at 'investors'.

I see reparations as the starting point for a more serious conversation on race and power. Like the term "affirmative action" this word tends to push to the forefront (white people) questions like, "Why should I share the blame?" The answer is, "Because you have benefited, and continue to do so."

To admit this is a necessary, but not sufficient start to coming up with some public policies that just might work to right this ongoing injustice.

And then, just maybe, the "That's not fair" bullshit will wither and die.

wj: I'm English. It was a rhetorical device. I'm glad it made you laugh.

questions like, "Why should I share the blame?" The answer is, "Because you have benefited, and continue to do so."

Think how much less hostile the conversation could be if, instead of "blame", we talked about "cost". Steering the conversation to a question of "Why should I share the cost?" avoids getting people's backs up. And thus improves the chances that they will actually engage.

Of course, it's much less soul satisfying for some. But it's a matter of whether you really want to assign blame, or whether you care more about doing something positive to address the problem.

Everyone has already shared the cost in the sense that when a group of people is diminished, everyone is diminished.

Gosh CharlesWT, you sound like some kind of generous socialist! Thanks for that.

An interesting take on this topic is found here.

And thank you ChasWT for the noble sentiments, but we must remember this.

Carry on.

True reparations are impossible in a nation so divided.

A fairly brutal reminder of the state of play...
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/mar/02/why-donald-trump-could-win-again-by-dave-eggers
I asked if they would support higher taxes for millionaires if it meant that people like them would get free healthcare. Gaudet didn’t hesitate. “No, because one day we might be the millionaires.”...

...And as ludicrous as these fragments seem out of context, watching the speech with what truly was an everyday and diverse group of people, I had the distinct impression that Trump could easily be re-elected. Recent polls had found that fully 58% of the American electorate had vowed to vote for anyone but Trump, but even with all the insanities of his speech, and the unending chaos of his first two years in office, he laid out a compelling case that night for having achieved actual results that actually mattered to his fans, both the passive and the devout. He mentioned that unemployment for Hispanic workers was at a historic low, and this is true. He mentioned that unemployment for African American workers was at an all-time low, too, and this is also true. We in the media have long seen Trump as a racist buffoon and a threat to every core democratic principle, but his supporters see him as a man who gets things done, who speaks candidly, and who has engineered an economic boom that is the envy of the world. Almost invariably, his fans acknowledge his crude way with words, and his difficulty telling the strict truth, but they consider these minor sins dwarfed by the impact of a thriving economy, the winding down of two unnecessary wars, and a tough-minded stance against China, North Korea and illegal immigration. To his supporters, even the casual ones, he has a lot to run on. And even those who are agnostic about Trump, at least here in El Paso, were conceding his successes....

A hell of a lot of people either love Trump or are, at a minimum, perfectly fine with him and don't really see what all the fuss is about.

wj: Think how much less hostile the conversation could be if, instead of "blame", we talked about "cost".

The general consensus seems to be that "reparations" in the form of money damages to descendants of slaves is problematic in many ways. So, what would be the point of making money damages rhetorically more palatable to the sort of people who think racism is over?

"The conversation" has to start with an admission that racism is real and pervasive. White Americans who think there's nothing to make amends about, or that amends have already been made, or that racism is neither their fault nor their problem, or are named Mark Meadows, must be confronted with "hostile" talk from white Americans who recognize America's original sin and its continuing psychosis. The Meadows Brigade will not be shamed into repentance by such talk, but without it there is no hope of checking the perpetuation of their prion disease.

First recognition, then repentance, and then we can work out "reparations".

--TP

"The conversation" has to start with an admission that racism is real and pervasive.

There are, for better or worse, two separate issues being routinely conflated: past slavery and current racism. In that mix, I keep seeing the gloss that (white) people of today should accept "blame" for slavery. Which, not surprisingly, irritates people who not only never owned slaves, but whose ancestors (for a variety of reasons) never did either. They might be willing to accept part of the costs of reparations for slavery. But suggesting, let alone insisting, that they accept part of the blame for it, and demanding "repentance", isn't going to do anything but cause them to dig in their heels in opposition.

Now if you want to talk about current racism, that needs to be a separate discussion. There you at least have a case that people today are benefitting, even if they are not racist themselves. It will not be a particularly easy case to make, but at least it has a leg to stand on. However even here, casting blame and talking about repentance is, I submit, counterproductive. Far better, in the sense of more likely to accomplish something useful, to focus on what needs to be done to level the playing field.

Certainly the Mark Meadows of the world won't accept anything that suggests they even might, maybe, have gotten a leg up due to their race. But then, we're never going to convince everybody of anything. And shouldn't waste time trying. We need to keep our eyes on the goal: getting enough people on board to do something useful, and keep it from being reversed at the first opportunity.

Not directly on topic, but not so far off topic, either. In either case, genius.

Well played, sir.

While it might be true to a limited extent that “the two are conflated”, I think this is wrong, wj.
Just to take one example, the ‘science’ of racism - which is still around in force, as anyone who has stumbled across the devoted adherent of The Bell Curve will attest - originated under and supplied a justification for the institution of plantation slavery.

Not exactly on topic, but a fascinating (and very long) post of the difficulty of hosting comment sections:
https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/02/22/rip-culture-war-thread/

And why this should not unduly concern ObWi:
https://mobile.twitter.com/Scholars_Stage/status/1099222129550086149

Now if you want to talk about current racism, that needs to be a separate discussion.

I agree with your point about blame and repentance. I also think that we should focus on tackling current, especially institutional racism.

However, one cannot disconnect slavery from the current racism in all its forms - instead there is a continuity at work, as has been pointed out eloquently by e.g.
Michelle Alexander and Ava du Vernay:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13th_(film)


Column by Mark Herring, AG of VA.

We're steeped in it. Moving forward will require attentiveness, acknowledgment, conversation, and action.

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