Slave pay? No way

"Will there be a new tax based on race, with appropriate discounts for being part African-American?"

By Letters to the Editor

Published June 7, 2000 7:02PM (EDT)

Debt wrong BY EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON (06/05/00)

Earl Ofari Hutchinson needs to clarify his explanation of what exactly reparations are supposed to be for. Are they supposed to be a transfer of wealth? A payment for lost freedom? A payment for current injustices? If advocates of reparations could make clear what the reparations are supposed to be for, the public would be in a better position to judge their worth.

While I agree that it is unclear how paying reparations will make everyone hate blacks more, it is also unclear how paying reparations will in any way mitigate the root problems. If all the welfare, social and education programs, civil rights legislation and affirmative action programs weren't able to help blacks, how exactly is a huge transfer of wealth going to do anything?

In any case, why should only blacks be considered for reparations? What about Chinese slave labor that helped build the transcontinental railroad? Or any of the other many minorities that have been oppressed in our country's long history?

-- Justus Pendleton

From whom do we extract these reparations? We all share a common history -- and a common tax base. As Americans, we can no longer afford to view this commonality in terms of "us" and "them". There will be no reparations because there won't be the necessary votes, but the debate itself is unnecessary, divisive and fails to directly address the real challenges of race relations in America today.

-- Kelly Cooper

I disagree with Earl Hutchinson, but not for any reasons David Horowitz gave. We should not be made to "pay up" for slavery, because in America we always think that we can make a problem go away or get better by throwing money at it. If this country really wants to make amends, it can start by making a college education more affordable for all of its citizens. Money is temporary, but an education lasts a lifetime.

-- David Wrobleski

Hutchinson certainly tweaks at the heart strings with his article. However, he fails to mention that slavery was rife in Africa before the slave trade to the Americas existed and it was made possible by the actions of tribal leaders in Africa who profited from it.

If reparations are to be made, will they also be made to the families of former slaves still in Africa? And if so, what will be the criteria for these reparations?

Who will pay, and how? Will there be a new tax based on race, with appropriate discounts for being part African-American? I can see this endearing the IRS to the American people even further.

-- Gareth Powell

Letters to the Editor

MORE FROM Letters to the Editor

Related Topics ------------------------------------------