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The Question of Reparation Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by H Wu, United States Sep 19, 2002
Human Rights   Opinions


African Americans suffered at the hands of others, an instance often repeated in history. Slavery was unfair as are many other historical events. Man has committed travesty upon travesty; the Holocaust and the Armenican Genocide to name a few. The questions we should address in this debate are whether reparation payments are due and how are they to be paid?

The Holocaust victims and Japanese Americans who suffered during WW2 have received reparation payments. The discussed reparation payments should not be paid to slave descendants, as these issues are not parallel. Slavery is a century old event. Unlike the Holocaust and the Japanese internment victims, reparations would be paid to people living generations after the atrocity rather than to the direct victims. African Americans should not get the credit for back-breaking labour their ancestors endured and they have no hard proof the legacy of slavery continues to hinder their progress in life. Current society provides the means for anyone to have a good education, get health care benefits, and live in adequate housing. What breaks one’s future are personal actions rather than the effects of former injustices. With the absence of evidence supporting allegations that slavery continues to put African Americans at a true disadvantage, reparation payments should not be endorsed. Doing so would be living off sympathy and the fruits of others’ labor.

In the case that reparation payments are approved, many implications arise. How are we to determine who should get these payments? Should there be minimums as to how much of one’s ancestry stems from slaves or whether Caucasians immigrating to the United States after 1864 would be obligated to pay? How will payments differ? These uncertainties bring to light the complications of this issue.

Unless studies convince the majority of US citizens that African Americans are still at a disadvantage, I cannot support reparation payments. With society on the move and slavery a hundred fifty years behind our times, we have no true victims of this historical injustice. Even with approval, reparation faces questions even proponents would have difficulty answering.



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