The case for reparations to blacks

Tom Jackson
May 23, 2014


If you have any interest in American history, or provocative ideas,  I urge you to take time to read Ta-Nehisi Coates new article, "The Case for Reparations."

Coates' piece argues that given the amount of damage done to blacks over the decades by a racist power structure, an honest discussion about possible reparations is the only way to clear the air. 

Here are a couple of interesting paragraphs:

Broach the topic of reparations today and a barrage of questions inevitably follows: Who will be paid? How much will they be paid? Who will pay? But if the practicalities, not the justice, of reparations are the true sticking point, there has for some time been the beginnings of a solution. For the past 25 years, Congressman John Conyers Jr., who represents the Detroit area, has marked every session of Congress by introducing a bill calling for a congressional study of slavery and its lingering effects as well as recommendations for “appropriate remedies.”

A country curious about how reparations might actually work has an easy solution in Conyers’s bill, now called HR 40, the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. We would support this bill, submit the question to study, and then assess the possible solutions. But we are not interested.
I'm not necessarily the kind of person you'd expect to recommend this article. I am fed up with seeing every possible criticism of Barack Obama dismissed as "racism." (Some of the criticisms may be racist, but not all of them are.) Exhortations to "check your privilege" leave me unmoved. Pastor Darden's playing of the race card in the firing of Nicole Ard did not impress me. 
But it also seems naive and dishonest to insist that history has ended, to claim that slavery and racism left no mark on the present day. Coates makes a powerful case. I don't agree with everything he wrote, but he is forcing me to think.  I urge you not to simply react to the word "reparations" but to read what he actually has to say. 


Stop It

I am a caucasian person. Those banks and one you named, Countrywide took my property as well. It had nothing to do with race, it was just greed.

Quit start trying to start race wars were there aren't any. You shoulda been at Geno's the night the black men and women were getting their legs shot.

Knock off the racist crap. This isn't the 60's or the 70's fat white man. It's 2014. Get with the program.


Aren't you the one who said you hate blacks because you were supposedly jumped on Hancock. How is you hating a whole race and always making race comments not racist crap? You are right it is 2014 so why hate someone for something they or you have no control over as in skin color?

Stop It

Because of people like you that keep bringing it to the forefront just as Mr. Jackson has, racist prick.

You don't post in the comment sections unless you have something racist to say, which is why I throw it back in your face.

I don't hate blacks. I don't HATE anyone. I despise anyone's ideas and ideals just to turn things into HATE.

thinkagain's picture

Please tell us you're not going to go into another whiny rant about how “The gov't stole my home and my job. I’m old, unemployed and living with my mom”.

Stop It

Go suck a rock, reverend. Your relentless bible thumping is as bad as these race baiters.


Re: "Countrywide took my property,"

And Chairman Angelo Mozilo paid a $67M fine and skated thanks to "Friends of Angelo" like Sen. Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank.

He was granted immunity.

The man certainly had "friends" in high places.

Steve P

The new low for the award winning Registerag.




Coates' article is thorough, eloquent, and wrong. It's full of racist bias and non-sequitur. Worth reading, though, if for no other reason that it could be influential.

Most viewpoints advocating reparations ignore those already made and continuing.

The question is worth examining. The conclusions, not so much.

This is a lousy place to discuss this topic, unless the goal is to expose racists and stupidity. And get clicks. But Jackson is using the forum he has, so it's OK.

The Good Doctor

What is "wrong" about his article.


The idea of "paying" African Americans for everything America has put them through sounds incredibly disingenuous but pretending there isn't a problem is even worse.

2cents's picture

My ancestors fought in the American Revolution, I want reparations from England and on my mothers side the communists were killing everyone my grandfathers village in Russia and forced him to move to America so I want reparations for that too. Mr. US government you owe it to me to make this happen. I want it and I want it now! (Factious)

Silly people, they want an end to racism but ask my kids to pay reparations for their great great great grandparents? Children are born race neutral, people like this and the Federal government continue to create racism for generations to come....


The Native American population seems to have a greater right to reparations. Maybe we should give Manhattan back?

Michael Allen

where are the calls for reparations to the Irish??


Chinese immigrants who built America's railroads were treated worse than slaves.

Stop It

We paid the Native Americans for New Amsterdam. It's free and clear.


and let's not forget that black people were buying and selling black people for their profit. reparations are a lot of nonsense and I want this african-american baloney stopped, too. If we live in America, regardless of where our ancestors came from, we are Americans and that is causing all the separation. did anyone see all the African names in the paper edition, today? I feel sorry for those who have nearly unpronounceable names when they enter the work force. get over it already and nix the reparations subject.


I'm not condoning anyones actions. However isn't it long past the time to get over it and get on with one's life? After the Civil War the Us government offered any freed slave the opportunity to return to Africa. They founded the country of LIberia. Evidently those that stayed here decided it was a better option.

The Good Doctor

Guess you did not read the article?


Re: "article'

New wine in an old bottle.


2 Cents I want reparations for what my Scotch-Irish ancesters had to go through in Northern Ireland. After all, they had to head to the US for their own safety. And while were on it how about France pay up for forcing my Heuganot relatives to come to New Jersey. Or Holland for my Dutch Ancestors being forced to go to New Amsterdam after they were forced out of Recife Brazil.


Almost every ethnic group has been discriminated against at some point in some part of the world. Putting one group over the other by deciding who deserves to be paid back is not the solution. That in itself would be discriminating wouldn't it? Who is to decide which group is more deserving, when everyone has faced this at some point in history? Forgetting our history is not the answer either. But reparations just perpetuate the idea of separation. I agree with worrdrow, babo, and fluffy, if we would stop separating each other into groups, racism will stop. Everyone born in America is an American. Point blank. We are not european-Americans, Irish-Americans, or African-Americans. We are all Americans regardless of ethnicity.


@ Mr. Jackson:

If reparations are in order, the Brits have some 'dues' to pay as well.

"Cornwallis ultimately appropriated about 30,000 slaves in Virginia alone,' and of these about 27,000 died of the small pox and camp fever, and the rest were partly sent to the West Indies and exchanged for rum, sugar, coffee and fruits,'

If so, more blacks were directly or indirectly killed by the British between 1780 and 1781 alone than patriot soldiers in battle during the entire war."

- "Angel in the Whirlwind"




'Someone' needs to phone, email or text Fed Chair Yellen and request that she 'print' a couple hundred trillion dollars and pass it out to the historically disadvantaged and the currently aggrieved.

Why can't the U.S. demonstrate to the world how a nation can print, borrow, tax and spend, spend, spend its way to equality, justice and prosperity?


@ Mr. Jackson:

On my 'someday' reading list:

"Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa"

"From 1991 to 1994, Keith Richburg was based in Nairobi as the Africa bureau chief for the Washington Post.

He traveled throughout Africa, from Rwanda to Zaire, witnessing and reporting on wars, famines, mass murders, and the complexity and corruption of African politics.

Unlike many black Americans who romanticize Africa, Richburg looks back on his time there and concludes that he is simply an American, not an African American."

As I recall from reviews at the time of it's publication, the author essentially came to conclusion that he felt fortunate that his ancestors had been enslaved and taken to America.

He was excoriated by the victimization cult.


Please. Has nobody ever heard of a statute of limitations? Besides, when damages are awarded in any matter, you have to be able to show that you were actually damaged!

How, pray tell, has slavery damaged YOU? It was abolished in this country well over 100 years ago. Those living today were no more damaged or benefited by slavery than I am damaged or benefited by the fact that my ancestors were ALSO forcibly kidnapped and enslaved! Stop with the blame game mentality, get off your behind, and work to get ahead like everybody else.

If ANYbody in this country has a case for reparations, it's the Native Americans. Although nobody is riding around with muskets and bayonets and burning down teepees anymore, the system of reservations established way back when remains in place and continues to actively cause serious problems with the resident populations.

Frankly, the ONLY "reparation" I'd favor is the one that erased the effects of slavery all together. There are many people living in this country today who are here ONLY because their forebears were enslaved. Anybody wanting to erase the effects of slavery on their personal lives should be genetically identified as to which part of the world their ancestors originated, and then shipped back. No? Don't want to live in Nigeria? Sudan? Ethiopia? Then determine to live IN the present, and FOR the future instead. Jeez!


Case in point. (See prior post above.)

The Good Doctor

Guess you did not read the article either! Discrimination and terrorism against African-Americans continued well after the end of the Civil War.


Discrimination and terrorism against Jews, Americans, white people, black people, Christians, "freedom fighters" of all colors, women, etc. continue today in many places around the world. How do any of those acts, reprehensible as they are, bolster the case for reparations in matters going on 200 years over and done?

Dr. Information

A White person is 2x as likely to die by a black person (violence) than vise versa and there are plenty of more whites in this country than blacks. Yup, racism exists against whites.


Black people do not need reparations. What happened cannot be undone with reparations. This article is simply to get a rise out of the usual suspects. Let it go. Just give us the same opportunities as everyone else and we will take it from there.

The Good Doctor is 100% correct. Well after and still goes on today.

Steve P

Lets make it a level playing field in 2014, do away with all affirmative action and separate groups. Why should any one be given points or an advantage just because of their race, that in it self promotes racism.
NAACP should change their name to; NAAP, (National Association for the Advancement of All People). The more any race separates the more divided we are. All ethnic groups and races can find injustice throughout history. If reparations were needed for slavery, then only those who were slaves should be eligible.


Affirmative action has been extremely helpful to whites. Extremely. It's not really an advantage when that same group of people have been oppressed for decades. NAACP is fine just the way it is. You may not like it but it serves a purpose and in no way has a negative effect on whites.

I'm all for a "level" playing field. Needs work yet to get there though!

Steve P

Your views reflect separation of the races, aka racism.

Where has affirmative action been "extremely helpful to whites"?


Back in 1988 when I got out of the military I took the state highway patrol exam. scored very well I might add, but was told I could not be excepted due to the fact I was white. So your statement is wrong. AA caused many not to get jobs that were highly qualified, so we dumbed down the requirements and people got jobs that weren't the the best of the best.


Merely giving everyone the same opportunities doesn't equal the same outcome. In fact, it doesn't equal any outcome at ALL if some choose to disregard those opportunities either by ignoring them altogether or by being too lazy to take full advantage of them!

I'm the last person to shame anybody who DOES take advantage of opportunity and who DOES work hard! My criticisms are solely for those who demand equality of OUTCOME when, in fact, ambition and talent AREN'T equally present in everyone; and even more so for those who apparently think the desired outcome is their DUE!

You do not, and have never, appeared to be the kind of guy I'd accuse of any of those latter traits. At the same time, I don't believe you can deny that there are too many out there who do exemplify those things! And I don't believe that either of us should have to pay for their voluntary shortcomings.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

"I urge you not to simply react to the word 'reparations' but to read what he actually has to say."

Truly reading and attempting to understand those with whom you disagree does more to bridge the gap of miscommunication and either help you to comprehend their point or give you every tool you need to have them understand and embrace yours. Thank you, Mr. Jackson.


Re: "read what he actually has to say,"

Reads like attempting to practice 'doublethink.'

Rather difficult when:

"Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Big Dog's back

I waited to comment to see how long it would take the white wingnuts to say something stupid. Didn't take long.

Steve P

piddle should receive reparations if he goes back under his rock.

Stop It

Screw it. I'm gonna hunt down Attila the Hun's relatives and sue the ever livin' crap outta them for running off my gypsy forefathers and mothers. Who in the hell do they think they were, anyway?


@ Mr. Jackson:

I spoke with a South African (SA) expat a while back.

He told me that he had moved to the U.S. so that his two children could escape that country's affirmative action and have a chance at a good education.

His son is a medical doctor. He said that because of affirmative action, his chances in SA of getting into medical school would have been zero.

Oppression is where you find it.


I hope you didn't fall for that line of bull. He came here for the same opportunities that were being denied to Blacks in SA. Is he legal? Would you consider them African Americans?

Speaking of oppression!!!!!!!!!


Re: "line of bull."

And now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction in SA and whites are being oppressed.

Where's the "bull"?

Even the country of Zimbabwe is rethinking their racist and economically detrimental policies:


Your friends are the true definition of African American. Agree? The playing field may not be level but it never was.


Re: "it never was"

And never will be because the largest minority group in the world is the individual.

No amt. of social engineering and central planning will ever make it fair and equitable - someone's ox will always be gored.

Not unlike Zimbabwe, in the U.S., Detroit is an excellent example of what happens when there is white flight due to racist policies.


If you talk to any educated people from Africa they will tell u that they are embarrassed by American Black's. I worked with many African engineers and every single one stated that american blacks whine too much and act foolish and were an embarrassment to them.


Re: "embarrassed by American Black's."

I'll second that!

I hung out with some Ethiopians in college. They were insulted when they were mistaken for American blacks.


I'll third it. The only issue I have with their perception is they think they had it harder.

America Blacks are just as insulted when they are mistaken for Africans also. Eventually they learn that Black is Black in America!
How come South Africans............nevermind!


Re: "they think they had it harder."

If you include the FACT that most of the black Africans are educated and articulate, they had to work for it and did have it "harder."

Whiskey in a Teacup

Africans are probably not aware of much of American history. Did u know that after the Civil war ended blacks were employed in minstrel shows and we're portrayed as buffoons and lazy and silly as a way to provide entertainment. For most white America this was the lens blacks were seen through and was used by blacks to gain acceptability. Ironic, eh?

thinkagain's picture

What a great idea, take from innocent people who weren't involved in slavery and give to people who were never slaves.


Pay Reparations?

Let's give native Americans reparations for Trail of Tears and taking of land. Let's give Asian Americans reparations for internment camps during World War II. Let's give women reparations for being discriminating against for jobs and rights to vote. Let's bankrupt this country for every injustice that has took place in recent history. Let's give homosexuals reparations for not being allowed to marry and still not being allowed to marry.

Overall, make it one big class action lawsuit and have the government shell out billions of dollars and issue 90 percent of the population checks of $10.00.


Let me see, I'm Irish, English, Scottish, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, German, Native American, I guess I'm really happy to be an American, because ,in all of the above countries that is what I am to them. I am an American.

Whiskey in a Teacup

What does it matter if the conditions they faced in their country of origin were equally deplorable? __and so therefore they should be content to be faced with nothing more than being disadvantaged ? I disagree with reparations but seriously you would deny that whites had priveledges because of their skin color? Some of you speak as if the inequality toward blacks ended when slavery ended and yet my parents speak of the day schools desegregated. We can recall stories of civil rights movements from our mouths, not just history books. Don't be foolish, many of you have greater intellect than that.


Why don't we just go back to making the Egyptians pay reparations to the Jews for Ramses enslaving them, and work forward from there? I figure with Anglo-Saxon ancestors, I'm due something for the Norman conquest, with Scotch and Irish blood the English owe me, and with German ancestors, Italians owe me for the Roman's treatment of the Visigoths. Mongolia will owe reparations to anyone with ancestors from anywhere in Eurasia east of the Danube.

The Constitution prohibits making people pay for the crimes of their ancestors.


They already created reparations, Roosevelt approved it back in 1935...its called welfare.



Whiskey in a Teacup

Herbie _ cute, but lacking knowledge. Actually, "poor laws" were established shortly after our nation was founded, when people were choosing to come to America, and they were provided cash and / or job placement. Assistance programs (welfare) continued throughout the 1800's, long before slavery began and ended. Cash assistance and various programs to help poor families have been around since pre Civil War era.
In 1935, Roosevelt enacted the SSA, and ADC was implemented as part of the New Deal. The aid was intended primarily to help single white women who were not expected to work >>>
but blacks didn't qualify until the 1960's after the Civil Rights Movement and the rules were expanded to include black woman.
Eventually Congress enacted rules of its own because the previous rules still disqualified black woman because of the "man in the house" rule which was eventually criticized because it promoted divorce and discouraged marriage.
No matter, the majority of recipients who received welfare were white woman while black families chose to continue to work.

Dr. Information

Sounds like this author just wants more handouts.


approximately half the commenters here are making the argument that the concept of reparations from the US govt to black Americans can be dismissed immediately because somehow doing that would also require every other country on Earth to make similar reparations to some minority group it mistreated. there are plenty of good arguments against black reparations, but this is one of the dumbest ones you could choose to make. if you don't want to sound like you have a 3rd grade education, then i would recommend reading some things and at least familiarizing yourself with some of the arguments that DO make some sort of logical sense.