Column: North Carolina leads method on reparations – Hickory Daily Record

22July 2020


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The old monuments have been removed. The old fight flag has been lowered, folded, and put away even at NASCAR events. Black Lives Matter is everywhere. Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima have been put to rest. Washington’s football team is changing its Redskins nickname. And John Lewis has joined Martin Luther King in heaven.

All this taking place at once.

What is next?


Who would have thought North Carolina would be, a minimum of for a few minutes, the focal point of the dispute about whether our country has a task to compensate black citizens for injuries past and present suffered by them and their forefathers as outcome of racism?

But it was, as this headline from the June 16 concern of U.S.A. Today attests: “In historical relocation, North Carolina city approves reparations for black locals.”

The paper’s report continued, “In an extraordinary relocation, the Asheville City board has actually apologized for the North Carolina city’s historic function in slavery, discrimination and denial of fundamental liberties to black citizens and voted to supply reparations to them and their descendants. The 7-0 vote came the night of July 14.”

Councilman Keith Young, a supporter of the step, explained, “It is merely not enough to remove statues. Black individuals in this country are handling issues that are systemic in nature.”

The Asheville action is regional in nature and does not offer direct payments to people. Rather, it expects financial investments in areas where African American homeowners experience disparities.

As the council’s resolution provides, “The resulting monetary and programmatic concerns may consist of however not be limited to increasing minority own a home and access to other budget friendly housing, increasing minority service ownership and career opportunities, techniques to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the spaces in health care, education, employment and pay, area safety and fairness within criminal justice.”

Asheville’s action may lead the way, however it does not answer the big concerns that form the nationwide debate about reparations for slavery and systemic bigotry.

Many concerns stay: Why? How? Just how much? To whom? When?

North Carolina steps up to react to such concerns in a new book, “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century,” written by 2 Durham residents, William Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen. Darity is an economics professor at Duke University and his partner, Mullen, is a writer, folklorist, and museum expert.

The authors provide a comprehensive history of slavery, brutal, troubling and required reading for both reparations advocates and skeptics. The horror sustained by the enslaved is not the only grounds for payment. The authors display in detail how the system of slavery developed huge wealth for shipping business, banks, insurance companies, colleges, and many people, but left the exploited enslaved with nothing.

Darity and Mullen argue that the post-Civil War oppressions and Jim Crowism in addition to continuous discrimination and bigotry in the United States are important premises for restitution.

To be qualified to get a reparation payment, they suggest that U.S. citizens would “need to develop that they had at least one forefather who was shackled.” In addition, “they would need to show that they self-identified as ‘black,’ ‘Negro,’ ‘Afro-American’ or ‘African American’ for a minimum of 12 years before” the institution of a reparations program.

For any such program to be efficient, they state it needs to consist of 3 components: recommendation (recognizing the benefits other Americans acquired from slavery and exploitation), redress (efficient restitution), and closure (when victims and beneficiaries are reconciled).

Darity and Mullen have not provided all of us the answers to the reparations concerns, however they have actually arranged the difficulties and lots of choices in such fantastic and helpful detail that anyone who looks for to consult with authority on the question should not stop working to read this book.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” Sundays at 3:30 p.m.and Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV.


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