Is America Ready For Reparations?
(ThyBlackMan.com) Whenever the world gets too crazy for me, I head down to the soul food restaurant and seek out my mentor, the great ghetto philosopher, Cleophus Leroy Brown.
Cleo graciously waived me toward a seat at his usual corner booth. “What’s on your mind, College Boy?”
“Everything,” I blurted out. “”I’m on social media and practically every day someone posts another instance of black folks either being killed or brutally beaten by police just for being doing something, if it isn’t anything more than breathing , while black. Everybody jumped up and down- and rightfully so, I might add, about Freddie Gray, while more than 180 days after he was murdered by police, Tamir Rice’s family has gotten no justice, no charges filed, no nothing! They haven’t even been allowed to bury their child. We just had over 200 bikers involved in a shootout in WACO and the police didn’t kill anybody! Bikers- almost all of them white- shooting up a storm and none of the police were “in fear for their lives” like they were when they killed 12 year old Tamir Rice for playing with a toy gun, and all the other unarmed black folks. And not once did I hear the word ‘thug,’ used!” By now, I was on the verge of requiring oxygen.
“And you want to know what it all means. Right, College Boy?”
“Well, yeah. I mean, I thought things were supposed to have been getting better. Especially with a black president and all …”
“And I thought I taught you that exceptions to the rule don’t negate the rule, they prove it! Just ‘cause some people get a seat playing musical chairs, that doesn’t mean there’s a seat for everybody! There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from what’s goin’ on. But the main message I get out a all of this is that America aint ready for reparations!”
“It means we are finally going to be compensated for all those years of enslavement.”
“That’s the very least significant part of reparations. There has to be a monetary component, but that is just to make a statement of the seriousness of the situation. It should cost a lot, because a lot was taken. But, more than anything else, reparations is an apology. It says we are sorry. And a true apology says something else. Do you know what that something else is?”
“I’m really sorry?” I was truly grasping for straws.
“I means that I regret doing what I did to injure you; that if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t do that. It means that if my wrongful actions have defined our relationship, then I will do whatever it takes to redefine our relationship in a way that is right and just and proper. This represents what is called ‘atonement’ or ‘at-one-ment’ in theological terms. “ Cleo’s look of self satisfaction was so strong it almost knocked the taste out of my mouth. But in my heart, I knew he was right.
“Just look at the history. Whenever we tie today’s issues back to slavery, we get the same tired response. “That was a long time ago. When are you going to stop using that as an excuse? ‘Now If, when slavery was abolished, white America had said, ‘You know what? We must a lost our damn minds. We were so wrong. Here’s your forty acres and a mule, and we are going to do everything, from real education- not just propaganda- to whatever you might need- to bring you into the fold as fellow American citizens’ – if that had happened then we would have had a clean break and slavery really would have been quite a while ago. But instead we were lynched, segregated and denied the vote- even more than a hundred years after the so-called Emancipation Proclamation. Today’s police departments grew out of the paddy rollers whose sole purpose was to police and intimidate slaves.
“To this day, there has never been that clear, clean break with slavery. Never that admission of wrongdoing and renegotiating of relationship based on total equality. When unarmed black folks are slaughtered by the police, it’s just a statement that we aint ready to renegotiate the relationship. As long as Fox News scores more than twice the ratings of MSNBC AND CNN combined, we aint ready for reparations. As long as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh can make millions of dollars just by spreading stupid racism on the radio, we aint ready for reparations. And as long as people have to wear Tee shirts to proclaim that “black lives matter,” we definitely aint ready for reparations. As long as we aint ready for reparations, the stain of slavery will never be lightened (it could never be removed anyway) from the soul of America.
Staff Writer; William Griggs