And yet, reparations is one of those ideas that really only make sense if you don’t examine it too deeply.
The biggest problem is responsibility. No African American alive has been a slave, nor has any white person been a slave owner. Slavery was abolished in 1865, and several hundred thousand white people died in the war that led to their freedom. Since they were freed, a century and a half has passed in which countless millions have immigrated to the United States, having had no responsibility for American slavery (though they all came from places that enslaved people, because there is no place on Earth that in the past did not). Moreover, black people have intermarried with many of those people, as well as the descendants of the white people who enslaved their ancestors.
This raises questions that are uncomfortable at best:
1. Why should a bunch of Irish people, or Mexicans, or Chinese, who arrived in America after 1865 have to pay for these reparations? And even if they were specifically exempted somehow, how would they not suffer the economic effects of this economic chaos resulting from such a giant expropriation?
2. Will blacks who are partially of white descent have to pay? If not, why not?
3. Why should anyone who had nothing to do with slavery have to pay anyone for anything?
4. Why should anyone who was not personally enslaved receive any compensation for what happened to someone else?
READ MORE: Should America Pay Reparations for Slavery?