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Reparations Should Come in Form of Lucrative Endowments for Every HBCU

by Todd A. Smith

 

 

Reparations for Descendants of Slaves 154 Years Overdue


Former African-American slaves deserved their reparations in the form of 40 acres and a mule in 1865.


Why not?


My ancestors like Cecilia and Solomon Huff and their daughters worked their fingers to the bone so that many White Americans could steal generational wealth just like they stole Africans from the shores of West Africa.


Forty acres and a mule would not have compensated them for the centuries of free labor, but it would have given Black folks a head start in building generational wealth, which would still be felt today if the American government did not renege on its promise to freed slaves.


Forty acres and a mule would have provided Black families enough land so that they would not have to rely on government assisted housing just to provide a roof over their children’s head.


Forty acres and a mule would have generated enough wealth for Black families so that Black college students would not have to take out life-ruining loans just to pursue higher education.


Forty acres and a mule would have generated enough money for families so that Black children could have some extra money to pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship.


And 40 acres and a mule would have given Black families the means to generate income by working their own land for generations to come.


The fact that Black people did not get their 40 acres and a mule is 0ne of the reasons that the wealth gap is so wide between Black and White Americans.


Many White Americans say that Black people constantly complain and want handouts in the form of affirmative action and reparations.


But many of the same people ignore the fact that America has historically given out reparations to people that they have wronged and oppressed like to the Japanese Americans forced into internment camps during World War II.


In 1988, former President Ronald Reagan gave the over 100,000 survivors of the internment camps $20,000 apiece.


I am no math wizard, but I believe that slavery in America lasted much longer than “the war.”


Furthermore, affirmative action benefits all minorities, even White women, and not just Black people.


So if American only has a problem with giving Black people reparations then it proves what people have known since July 4, 1776 and even before.


America does not have a problem doing the right thing.


This country has a problem doing right by Black Americans.


The U.S. was built into a great country off of the backs of Black folks so it would have only been right to compensate slaves for their years of free labor.


Just imagine if all of the endowments that rich White slave owners were able to give to Ivy League schools because of free slave labor instead went to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) as a result of free slaves being able to generate wealth from their reparations.


It would have been a game changer still felt to this day because it would have alleviated some of the costs for poor Black students pursuing higher education.


Unfortunately, reparations for descendants of slaves would be too difficult to sort out because of the difficulty of determining which Black Americans actually descended from slaves and which ones did not.


Furthermore, most White Americans did not own slaves back in the day because they could not afford them.


Ownership of slaves meant that a person had extreme wealth and most White people did not fit that category.


More importantly, with President Donald Trump in office there is no way that legislation giving reparations to descendants of slaves would ever get signed.


President Trump will not even allow slave abolitionist Harriet Tubman to appear on the $20 bill, so there is no way in the world he will give a boat load of $20 bills to Tubman’s descendants.


The president constantly praises a known racist and slave owner in former President Andrew Jackson so that proves how he feels about race in America.


But what the American government should do instead of giving reparations directly to descendants of slaves is set up large endowments at every HBCU in the country, especially those enduring tough financial times.


Those lucrative endowments would ensure that HBCUs keep their doors open and would give many poor Black American students the opportunity to pursue higher education without worrying about the mountain of debt that they will accumulate.


Entering the workforce without tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt would change the course of history for their descendants because they would immediately be able to save for their children and grandchildren’s education instead of focusing on repaying student debt.


That is the least that the American government can do to repent for the original sin of slavery.


The American system of higher education was built much on the back of slavery as documented in the book “Ebony and Ivy” by Craig Steven Wilder.


So America owes Black Americans an extra push when trying to enter the middle and upper class via higher education.


Many will say that Black Americans should pull themselves up from their own bootstraps.


To that I will say that we have.


Unfortunately, as soon as we start pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps from the boots we made ourselves, many White Americans steal our boots from us and destroy them.


In Tulsa, Okla. during the early 20th century, Black Americans had created their own self-sustaining community known as Black Wall Street.


The Black residents of Tulsa, Okla. had more wealth than their White counterparts.


The Black residents had their own airport, airplanes, post offices, doctor’s offices, dentist’s offices and other businesses.


They had created their own Black American dream with no actual help from America.


But because of an accusation made by a White resident, Black Wall Street was destroyed and many Black Americans lost their lives or lost their livelihood.


After surviving slavery and dealing with Jim Crow laws, the Black residents had pulled themselves up from their bootstraps and had elevated higher in life than their oppressors had.


Therefore, the lie that some Americans tell themselves about Black people wanting handouts is totally false.


We just never wanted White Americans to take what we had in our hands to put in their own hands.


And if White Americans took what was ours, we only wanted just compensation for it.


The government creating lucrative endowments at HBCUs will be a start in atoning for the original of slavery.


Civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s was not reparations as Sen. Mitch McConnell claims.


That was just giving us our God-given rights that White people never had the right to take away in the first place.


The final piece to properly addressing the fact that America and many of its institutions and companies got wealthy off the backs of Black slaves is to take some of that wealth and put it into treasured Black institutions like HBCUs.


That way, Black students matriculating at HBCUs would have a leg up in the real world, not a leg kicking them back down just when they begin to make it to the top.

This article was published on Friday 21 June, 2019.
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