With more than a decade pushed off the table and something that happened over 150 years ago, the case of reparations for slavery has returned to Capitol Hill. The Democratic party has resurrected the hearings with growing discussions as to what the United States may owe the descendants of the slaves before the Civil War.
A famous activist and actor, Danny Glover and a writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates were two of the many witnesses which were set to testify at the Wednesday hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee.
The purpose of this hearing is “to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community, and the path to restorative justice.”
In 2014, Coates published an essay in The Atlantic magazine called, “The Case for Reparations,” which triggered a fresh debate. In an interview, he stated, he did not want to testify, but he “felt some responsibility to make that case before Congress.”
Coates also stated, “One of the things I was trying to do when I wrote that was to get people to stop laughing. Right now, this is a moment. I think folks are really clear about that right now. That doesn’t mean it’s going to get fixed next week.”
The Democrats have long treated the reparations as a fringe issue, but the case continues to move toward one of their priorities of discussion. Several presidential candidates were willing to take a look into the idea, but they fell short when it came to paying out African Americans.
The idea remains to be entertained as the Democrats, and the African Americans accept it by a wide margin. In 2016 a Point Taken-Marist Poll showed 68 percent of Americans feel no reparations are owed to African American descendants of the slaves.
Eighty percent of White Americans are opposed while 60 percent of black Americans are in favor of the reparations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday, “I don’t want reparations for something that happened 150 years ago. We’ve tried to deal with the original sin of slavery by passing civil rights legislation and electing an African American president, Barack Obama. It would be hard to figure out who to compensate for slavery. No one currently alive was responsible for that.”
Republicans invited two of their own witnesses to the hearing on Wednesday, a columnist, Coleman Hughes, and Super Bowl Champion and former Oakland Raiders football player, Burgess Owens. Owens wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal putting down the request for reparations by saying, “Proponents of reparations act as though black Americans are incapable of carrying their own burdens, while white Americans must bear the sins of those who came before.”
The debate takes two sides and has been going on since the end of the Civil war. Those for reparations feel the descendants are owed compensation while those opposed feel it is an unfair solution and places the blame on white Americans who were not even born 150 plus years ago.
One of the Democratic presidential candidates, Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey, will be one of the witnesses and testifying on Wednesday. His prepared testimony states, “The U.S. has yet to truly acknowledge and grapple with the racism and white supremacy that tainted this country’s founding and continues to cause persistent and deep racial disparities and inequality. It’s time to develop proposals to right these historical wrongs and balance the scales of economic justice.”
In our generation or lifetime, this issue of reparation was brought up in 1989 when Democratic Representative John Conyers from Michigan fought every year for reparations, but he came up with nothing to grab traction. In 2017, Democratic Representative Shelia Jackson Lee pushed harder than anyone to reach this point where the hearing is finally happening for them.
The ones who feel no reparation is owed are all on the same page. However, many get labeled as racist no matter what side they take. This is the cold hard truth. Somewhere as Americans, our ancestors can all be traced back as slaves.
There were more Irish slaves than any other race, including African Americans. Egyptians and many others were born into slavery. Many races in America have been exiled from their homelands and faced hardships.
The Native Americans were robbed of their land. If reparation is owed for African Americans, then reparation is owed for all of the races in America.
That will never happen.