June 18, 2019
Mason Weaver, Founder
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\*\*\*Black Reparation: "The Forty Acres and a Mule Syndrome"\*\*\*
Here we go again folks, on talk shows, call in programs and the print media, the old dream that would not go away, Reparations! "Give me my forty acres and a mule! I can't go on with my life until you have made me whole." Has anyone really taken a good long look at what Black people are asking for, what we are saying about ourselves?
Shortly after the civil war, slaves were prosperous and achieving great things. There were Black people in congress and even a Lt. Governor of the state of Louisiana. Black people taught themselves to read and write and began businesses and purchased farms. Schools opened everywhere as Black people leaped ahead without waiting for permission or help from anyone.
This first generation of freed slaves took advantage of their freedoms by self determination and imagination. A friend, Hattie Carwell, researched the scientific contributions of Black people in America. The result of her research was a book called Blacks in Science (Carwell, 1977 Exposition press). She found over 20 patents given to Black Americans within 10 years after the civil war.
This talk of reparations gives the impression that we are in need of assistance. Are we? Black people took their civil rights in the 60's and went to school and into business in the 70's. The 80's gave us the greatest economic expansion this country had ever known and for the first time Black people were in position to take advantage of it. During the 80's those Black Americans that attended college and entered into business now expanded their economic position. The number of Black people making over $50,000 per year, first time homeowners, new business owners and number of Black people entering college were at record numbers.
Progress didn't stop with the 90's, despite the hard economic times we are supposed to be in. Top 10 Black business in the United States, showed a 13.9% increase in sales for 1993. That is triple the percentage of the Fortune 500 companies. Everywhere you look, the Black community is prospering in spite of our problems. So why spend all of this time and energy calling for reparation? With nearly 70% of Black people living above the poverty level, shouldn't we concentrate of what is already working instead of what is impractical?
I just don't believe those calling for reparations have clearly thought out how it would be implemented. I have interviewed and discussed this with the proponents and no one can tell me how it would be implemented. Let us imagine congress enact a bill tomorrow apologizing for slavery and authorizing every Black descendant of slaves to receive $? amount of money.
All of the sudden the 38 million Black Americans would swell to 60 million. Everyone with any trace of Black blood in them will claim to be eligible for the reparations. Everyone whose ancestors from five or six generations ago that could have been Black, would be in line for their money.
Also, how would you determine if some Black Americans were descendants of Africans that migrated to America after slavery or those that were here free and were never slaves? Then of course, what about the descendants of slaves now living in the marooned societies in Brazil that escaped during slavery, would they be included? The descendants in Liberia and the Ivory Coast, which fled back to Africa, surely would be included in any payments.
If we gave Black people reparations, would we be required to repay any welfare payments, food stamps, free medical treatment and other government assistance? Would we need to repay for that education received under the Affirmative Action program and headstart? Would Black people get a bill for all the job training and placement given to "low income, disadvantage youth" programs? If we are going to say reparations is a "pay back" for all that we have suffered, then all of the other programs we received during the 60's and 70's need to be paid back as well. The Japanese internment victims received no special assistance except the reparation payments; Therefore, we should be required to repay all of the other special benefits designed to alleviate the legacy of slavery.
There are too many variables making this far too complicated to work and is therefore a waste of time and energy. Let us get on with what works, education, competition, dedication, morality, family and faith. These are the principles that freed us and prospered us. Now we, black Americans, are the greatest group of Black people on this planet. This proposal simply will never happen and if it does, would benefit very few of us.
It seems like the black community is listening to the voice of those saying what we can't do and what is owed to us. Of course these are the same people that administers the programs that have failed us. They advocate victimization and helplessness because they earn their money off our pain. When will the black community understand that real prosperity, equal rights and independence comes from self reliance and determination. You can always earn more that you are given.
Mason Weaver is an motivational speaker and author