It's about our community and our spirituality!

It’s Only Fair To Fix What You Broke

The oil leak in the gulf off the shores of Louisiana is easily the top news story here in America these days.  Because of the contamination of the raw crude that continues to spew into the water from the damaged well head about a mile underwater, many people along the coast are in jeopardy of losing their livelihood.  There is little doubt that this is a scary time for the people who have been financially impacted by this ecological disaster in the making.  And everyone can point a damning finger to British Petroleum.  People want to be reimbursed for what has happened.  And a lot of people think BP should pay.

The company is supposedly working hard under the scrutiny of the government to develop a solution to stop their spewing mess.  To date, nothing is making a dent in the tens of thousands of barrels of crude that is released every day.  And even if BP were able to cap that well today, in the very next minute, the affects of that oil will linger for a very long time.  Chances are very good that a large portion of the gulf will never be the same again.

But if the spewing of oil stopped this very second, would anybody be willing to say that the act of stopping the damage is enough to make all the people impacted by the gulf leak whole again?  Nobody in their right mind would make such a claim.  Damage has been done.  There is a good chance that many people who were fishing in the gulf before this disaster occurred will never fish in it again.  Without the ability to earn an income, many may lose their boats and their homes and find themselves along with their entire family at the crossroad of drastic change.

If BP said that the fact that they stopped the leak was enough to make Louisiana whole again, people would lose their minds.  BP needs to make restitutions for people’s immediate losses, and for losses that will come in the future.  That is a given for almost anyone who thinks in a reasonable fashion.

But compare that narrow minded line of thinking to the rhetoric from many people who claim that the African American community is owed no reparations for America’s institutionalized period of slavery, followed by the period of segregation, followed by the period of prior to the civil rights era, which serves as the foundation for our race relations today where the black community comes up short against the racially generic dominant community.  Talk about trying to do something to correct the imbalance and people will say that black people are getting handouts and special treatment.  Is it okay to give people along the gulf a handout and special treatment so that we can correct their imbalance?

After all the mechanisms that were used to retard the black community from fairly competing with the dominant community, a lot of people think that now that we take tepid steps to keep racism at bay, everything is fair and equal.  After generations of discrimination, the fact that we’ve stopped is enough to make the black community whole again even though the affects of that discrimination continues to resonate through the black community to this day and, if our inability to face responsibility for the mess we have made is any indication, will continue to reverberate far into the future.  The minute an institution adopts a plan to correct the racial imbalance created from years of policies that favored white people by reserving opportunities for black people, some white person somewhere will sue on the basis of reverse discrimination.  Nothing can be done to correct anything without somebody being shafted.

So if nothing can be done for the black community, why should we be concerned about the imbalance that has been created with the gulf leak?  Would not forcing BP to reimburse the people along the gulf who have suffered a loss be the equivalent of a reverse loss?  Wouldn’t that be just as unfair to BP?

Of course it wouldn’t.  You broke it, you fix it.  It’s a clear case of somebody wronged and somebody taking responsibility for that wrong.  Stopping the leak isn’t enough to right the wrong that has been done.  People need to be made whole again.  We all know that to be a consequence when people are wronged.  I have yet to have it satisfactorily explained so I continue to not understand how we as a nation can be so hypocritical and pretend that because we stopped institutionalized racism, that somehow this alone is enough to restore the black community.  After just seven weeks of an oil spill there is an effort to make sure people are compensated.  After generations of institutionalized discrimination, the black community is still waiting.

Thursday, June 3, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts


  1. Great post;excellent analogy.


    Comment by lola gets | Friday, June 4, 2010 | Reply

  2. okay here’s an honest question I have to pose. I do so because I dont remember if I did so before or not.

    Why does it ‘seem’ (I could be wrong nad had a rosy picture painted for me for all I know)that back in the days of the civil rights era and before that the black community seemed more united, and more family oriented than they do now?

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Friday, June 4, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Mike Lovell,

      A thoughtful question deserves a thoughtful response. I wish I had one for you. All I can do is give you my opinion. The black community is seriously fractured these days. Don’t get me wrong. The black community has always been fractured. Even back in the days of slavery, you had your house slaves and your field slaves. Plantation owners would point to their house slaves as examples of black people and the state of the black community. The house slaves loved their master because the house slaves were treated so much better than the average slave. Slavery wasn’t a problem in their eyes. But for every house slave there must’ve been dozens of field slaves who hated the social arrangement.

      To this day there are black people who would never do anything to help support the black community. If anything, they think that people in the black community are just waiting for a handout. Most of these black people have very conservative political leanings. I have yet to meet one who wasn’t, but I have yet to meet them all. Too often, these black people are a much smaller portion of the black community. But lots of times, they don’t even consider themselves part of the black community. They would prefer to call themselves anything but black. They might call themselves brown or a caublasian or something just as obtuse. But they would never say they were black.

      But even though they represent a small pool of black thought, all too often they are given a platform to espouse their views. The establishment often points to these black people as examples of how people in the black community should behave. They live so much better than the average black person. It’s an arrangement that goes back generations. But these days, more and more black people are all too willing to become the next modern day house slave. All too often the prevailing thought is that if I can make it to the good life as a black person and live large who cares about the rest of the black community.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, June 4, 2010 | Reply

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