Give compensation for enslavement

Oct. 4, 2002, midnight | By Colby Chapman | 18 years, 3 months ago

African Americans want and deserve reparations for suffering years of unjust treatment

For centuries of being held captive and beaten with whips and chains, African Americans want payback. We want payback for being legally denied education, money, family and happiness.

That is why on Aug 17, thousands of people came from all over the United States to march on the mall in Washington, D.C., asking for reparations for the hard work and foul treatment their forebears endured.

I say, why not? Why not give the culture that literally helped build this country reparations for centuries of undeserved pain and suffering? The very capital in which our government resides was built by the sweat and toil of slaves. America's economy originally relied on slave trade to prosper. We were not paid then; why not give us what we earned?

Since the 1960s, African Americans have asked for reparations, cries that have gone unanswered. At the same time, the federal government has responded to other cultures that have asked for similar reparations. Native Americans received land and money to compensate for centuries of broken treaties. Japanese Americans who were held in internment camps during World War II received a formal apology and $20,000 each. All we ask is for our turn.

I find it appalling for anyone to say that slavery ended centuries ago and that the African Americans who are living now need to get over it. Should I get over the fact that African Americans have one of the lowest overall education rates in America? Should I overlook African Americans' SAT scores, which continued to decrease this year to an average of a 906, placing them near the bottom of the achievement gap? Or should I get over the unspoken prejudice that still exists when a black person walks into a job interview? As of 1990, only 9.4 percent of African American males and 15.9 percent of African American females had jobs in professional fields. In 2001, the median family income for black families was $29,500 while white families had a higher median income of $46,300.

All of these problems are repercussions of slavery. Because the government sanctioned the suppression of the African American race, many people still view our culture as inferior to their own. Because we were denied education and denied the opportunity to have our own businesses, many African Americans have not been able to educate the later generations after slavery. No matter how long ago slavery existed, the African American culture still faces its consequences every day.

During slavery, our masters tried to capture our freedom, but we ran to the Promised Land nonetheless. During the Civil Rights movement, whites tried to say we weren't entitled to the same education as everyone else, but Brown v. Board of Education forced the desegregation of schools. Now we stand asking for reparations, and once again we are being denied justice. But just as we have done in the past, we must stand strong for the sake of our ancestors and for the African American generations yet to come.

The government should not give an outright handout to all slave descendents. Instead, it should give money to create foundations, educational institutions and college funds to address the setbacks that African Americans still face. Reparations should go to rebuilding the black community and to giving us back what was taken from us so many years ago. Give us back the years of literacy that we were deprived of, give us back our chance to be an economically prosperous culture and give us back the years during which our rights as human beings were snatched away from us.

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Colby Chapman. Colby Chapman is a junior page editor and sports writer for Silver Chips. She plays basketball and runs track for Blair, and she plays the piano as well. She is very committed to her academics but takes great pride in her athletics. More »

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