Why Should We Be Punished For Slavery?
Someone, a white person no doubt, asked why should white people be punished for the actions of their ancestors? The question is really misleading. No one is suggesting that white people be punished for anything. Making the case that our society needs to do more to eliminate the disparities created by America’s tolerance for institutionalized racism is not a case that white people should be punished. Everyone has to make an effort to make the black community whole again, not just white people. Nobody is making the suggestion that there should be a special tax on the white community and all that money should go to the black community.
And contrary to a lot of people’s fears, nobody is saying that white people should forego employment until all the black people have jobs. That’s nothing more than race based propaganda. However, people should be willing to say that if there are jobs available, if there is work to be had, if there are opportunities for education, a minimum number of these opportunities should go to people in the black community. Otherwise, the risk of perpetual racial discrimination will continue unabated in a fashion quite similar to the way it exists today.
For generations, the black community was victimized by a culture of discrimination run amok. While white people were free to be, black people existed as white people’s property, prohibited from being recognized as humans. While white people went to school and accumulated wealth and had a recourse for justice, black people went uneducated and without the ability to collect wealth and without being recognized as human. The black community worked incessantly for the enrichment of the white community. And while many people want to claim that they never owned a slave, they cannot say that they have not benefited from the many privileges that are regularly afforded the white community.
After the discrimination of race based slavery, after the discrimination of the Jim Crow era, after the discrimination of the pre civil rights era, after the white community has had generations to develop their wealth and then turn around to use that wealth to support their superior schools and to protect their advantages and their wealth earning potential, as a collective we want to institute a policy where the majority of inner city black schools, long neglected for a variety of reasons, have to produce students that have to pull themselves up with their bootstraps to compete with their white counterparts who have so many advantages for opportunities. And somehow, many of us want to promote the idea that this system rooted in disparity really is fair.
For generations, America took from black people and gave nothing back in the way of wealth, education, justice, legal representation, appreciation, or respect. And so many people want to continue this path. How many times do we have to hear people say things like black people have to take personal responsibility for their disadvantages. Why don’t more people remember that America got a serious lift up by black people’s bootstrap?
Contrary to what many people like to delude themselves into believing, this country’s white forefathers didn’t create this nation by themselves. While we give people like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington their proper respect as founding fathers, while they were writing the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other documents establishing our right to the pursuit of happiness, it was black people tending their home farms under a tyrannical concept of slavery that blocked any pursuit of happiness. Black people weren’t even allowed to maintain their family unit without the benevolence of the white slave owner.
Today we see the results of the racial disparity that was laid down as law here in this land centuries ago. We see the black community continue to exist as a mere fraction of the dominant community. The black unemployment rate is perpetually higher than the dominant community’s rate. The black community controls a paltry two percent of the wealth that the white community controls. And this is fair? Considering that the black community has virtually zilch when slavery was abolished, considering how we have had to struggle without benefiting from some form of enslavement like the dominant community has, it is truly amazing that we can eek out two percent.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the white community got a huge advantage in this game of comparisons when black people worked for white people without compensation. A white man sold a black family’s baby and got paid, but what compensation did the black people get but another crack of somebody’s whip.
And now some people want to complain that they shouldn’t be punished for what their ancestors did. In fact, nobody should be punished for what white people did back when all of America supported institutionalized slavery. So this begs the question why do we insist on letting the black community suffer? Why do we insist on continuing to punish the black community for what white people’s ancestors did so many generations ago?