Reparations is the act of making amends for a wrong. In light of recent events, it seems appropriate to hold some opinion of this subject.
OK, what am I really talking about? Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, J. P. Morgan Chase recently released a formal apology for its participation in slavery. Apparently, J.P. Morgan Chase feels it owes blacks in Louisiana reparations for holding slaves as collateral for loans. They desire to amend this situation by giving high school graduates in that state scholarships and internships with the prospect of a job after graduation
Sounds nice right? Wrong.
The leaders of the reparation movement are furious saying that $5 million is an insult. I believe every black worth their soul should agree.
How dare J.P. Morgan Chase feel it is okay to buy blacks off? Not only did it take the company a long time to apologize for an act that has prevalent for over 200 years, but the company also offered us a pitiful monetary compensation for the pain our ancestors endured.
Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means so radical that I cannot appreciate the apology that is offered. Nor am I upset that the company did finally apologized. However, I am infuriated that J.P. Morgan Chase obviously feels the black community can be bought off – and so cheaply for that matter.
Blacks cannot send a memorandum to the rest of America that this is acceptable behavior. How can you put a price tag on the humiliation our ancestors suffered? And if you can deem any price acceptable, how can you possibly find any monetary value to place on being torn away from our natural environment, culture and family? Let us not forget that once we were separated from everything that we had known, we were then dragged across the ocean and tormented along the way. Some of them were thrown overboard, and when we finally made it to America, we were auctioned off like animals.
I just don’t understand how some blacks could be OK with taking any type of compensation after this treatment. An apology was in order, yes, but anything other than that is considered a joke. If the black community accepts this pitiful compensation, that tells J.P. Morgan Chase and everyone else we forgive them. It sends a message that blacks are over slavery, and that it is a mere incident recorded in American history. We can no longer bring it up again and have a valid point when trying to argue that the playing field between blacks and the majority race in America is not level. Accepting reparations says the black community can be bought off anytime we are wronged. It sends a message that not only can our bodies and minds be disrespected, but so can our civil rights because all blacks seem to want is an apology and a few million dollars to make up for the inconvenience.
This simply is not and will not become true. We have worked too hard to get to where we are today. I know the money may seem alluring, tempting and glamorous even. But we as African people have always been a proud race, and accepting this money and such would demonstrate weakness. We have always found a way to provide for our children and ourselves; we cannot start taking handouts now because others finally recognize that they are wrong.
What we as a community need to do is unite and find an answer within ourselves to solve our own problems. There is nothing wrong with accepting an apology, but forgetting why an apology was issued will be detrimental to our community and accepting any form of reparation would ultimately do more harm than good.
Sheryl M. Patterson is a senior political science student from Tallahassee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.