This descendant of slaves still thinks reparations are a bad idea

I have to make a confession: I am what you might call a somewhat reluctant blogger. I love having a place to share my thoughts and the thoughts and ideas of others, but I really struggle with the whole blogosphere/social media thing.

It’s one part that I’m pretty old-school and low-tech, and one part I just don’t understand the whole digital realm, even as I think it’s a great thing. I’ve tried at different times in the past to plug into it, and, as a millennial mom, I’m exposed to every aspect of the digital evolution as it unfolds and my children try to drag me along.

As a blogger, though, I’m not so hot at the extra stuff like tweeting. There is a Twitter account for this blog, but I’ll be honest and say that one of my former students voluntarily set it up and tweets posts for me. I don’t even know how it works, although I keep promising to learn and take it over.

Further, all the contacts for my blog go into my spam, which generates like 20 to 30 spam emails for every two or three legit contacts, so going through that file in my email is a chore I tend to avoid. I’m sure I miss some real ones as I scroll through all the weirdo stuff, but I try not to.

Another confession: I don’t always read the comments after my posts, and I am very sorry if that upsets any of my readers. I don’t skip them to ignore any thoughtful opposing positions. I skip them because sometimes the Internet strikes me as a crowd of people yelling, just yelling, and unfortunately the yelling stuff can drown out the thoughtful stuff for me.

I’m an introvert for the most part, and the only time I want to be in the middle of a crowd of people yelling is after an awesome show when we are all clapping and chanting “encore.”

One of my recent contacts let me know that the comment section for my post about a United Nations report recommending reparations to the descendants of slaves (click here) had been busy with people who begged to differ with my position. The person who contacted me was very thoughtful in disagreeing, and I thought I should reiterate my position on the idea.

I soundly reject the idea that trying to repair individual past mistakes is the right way to make progress in the present and future. Learning about and from them as we chart our course is a valid endeavor.

However, for all our learning about past mistakes and for all our trying to repair them, we still continue to treat people like crap in the present. All our learning and repairing has yet to result in major changes in poverty levels, in equal access to quality education and housing, in equal access to compete for a piece of the American dream. Even worse, the focusing on this mistake or that mistake detracts from addressing other stagnating problems, which means some present populations get slighted to make up for past slighting of other populations.

U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Samantha Power speaks to Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon before a U.N. Security Council meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York.

U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Samantha Power speaks to Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon before a U.N. Security Council meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York.

It’s a nonsensical cycle that will never end unless we start casting nets that catch all oppressed and slighted and wronged parties. We need to stop making new populations in need of future reparations.

Hypothetically speaking, if we were to attempt reparations to descendants of slaves, 40 years from now (based on how long it’s taken to dice out reparations to our Native peoples), we’d realize that we still need reparations for rural whites who have been marginalized for other reasons. Then there will be the descendants of all the present-day mentally ill who were incarcerated in the wake of de-institutionalization when our community services failed them. Sure, it seems okay now, but future generations will be appalled.

And the list will go on and on, ad infinitum, especially — as I said in my previous post — if lawyers get their hands on it.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.