It seems so ironic to me how so many of my Anglo classmates can close their eyes to the generations of oppression blacks have faced (through slavery, the lynchings of the Jim Crow era, de jure segregation and, now, de facto segregation) and now all of a sudden cry "equality" and "reverse discrimination."
I have to admit that I'm currently sitting in my law class and instead of taking notes on the lecture, I feel compelled to express my views on a couple of volatile issues: affirmative action and reparations. As I look throughout my class, I see a total of two other black men and four black women in a class of roughly 95 students. Our diminutive representation notwithstanding, so many of my white classmates feel they are the victims of reverse discrimination through policies such as affirmative action.
Now back to the irony. These same individuals who constantly advocate meritocracy have not uttered a word attacking the general policy of preferential treatment given to children of alumni in admissions decisions. The individuals most likely to benefit from such a provision being white applicants, since higher education was denied to blacks for decades.
Moreover, if merit should stand as the sole criteria for admissions, why then do we allow those star high school athletes who miraculously score 800 on their SATs to be admitted with little protest from the "meritocrats?" It's no secret most of those star athletes who are heavily recruited by schools such as Carolina are in fact black. But the lack of debate over their presence suggests a notion that blacks are welcome to come to Carolina so long as they bring home a NCAA championship. If they fall short of this goal, they face the same animosity from this school that Joe Forte is facing right now.
These observations, along with the David Horowitz ad attacking reparations, are the reason why I'm not paying attention to my professor right now. I can't sit idly by in class at this time and passively take notes when I know members of my race are constantly under attack. As such, I feel the need to address some of the views expressed by Horowitz in last Monday's ad.
Horowitz begins by asking why Hispanics, Native Americans and other American minorities should also have to bear the burden of paying reparations when they undoubtedly had nothing to do with the enslavement of blacks. But he chooses not to mention the fact that reparations are currently being paid to Native Americans (for being robbed of their original homeland) and to the Japanese descendants of the Hiroshima bombings. The money paid to these people comes from the taxes paid by all Americans, including blacks who had nothing to do with these crimes on humanity. By design, reparations paid to the Native Americans and the Japanese require all of America to account for the acts of Anglo-America. Why shouldn't blacks be seen in the same light as the Native Americans and the Japanese?
Horowitz seems to answer this question by implying that blacks should be thankful that slavery brought us here to America. He cites statistical data comparing the wealth of African Americans to that of blacks back in Africa to illustrate how "well-off" we really do have it. But his superficial comparison is ill-drawn and is of little significance. Africa, as an entire continent, was raped of its natural resources, its sovereignty, at its chance at economic development by the ravages of European colonialism. For numerous decades, Africans were subjected to domination (both politically and socially) by white Europeans on their own homeland. This colonial form of forced oppression ended only a couple of decades ago. As a result, the legacy of its impact on the continent would obviously preclude black Africa from gaining any substantial financial footing in a global context. Horowitz fails to address this issue in his "in-depth" analysis of reparations.
I'll wrap up with my own conclusion that financial reparations paid to African Americans are not an appropriate from of remedy.
Yeah, I came to the same conclusion as Horowitz but for a very different reason.
Personally, I don't understand how a one-time check for approximately $15,000 will compensate me for the institution of slavery and the legacy of racism to which it gave birth.
Placing a monetary price tag on such a tragic point of our history seems to trivialize the horrors of slavery - while at the same time perpetuate the bipolarism of blacks and whites.
Rather a more appropriate form of restitution would consist of nonmonetary reparations.
Through programs such as affirmative action and government procurement contracts, African Americans may at last begin to experience the economic redress that has been denied to us for far too long.
Though these programs are still in their infancy, they provide the progressive means necessary for African Americans to reach a very critical goal: the redistribution of the poker chips.
Adam Aberra is a second-year law student. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.