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Something to Talk About - Reparations is nothing new. Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “Forty acres and a mule.”


Recently, discussions regarding monetary payments to descendants of slaves in the US has taken place in certain state legislatures, most particularly in California. In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation creating a “Task Force” to study long term effects of slavery and systemic racism in the state. The task force has determined that $569 billion is owed to the descendants of enslaved people in that state. Wow! With a state budget deficit of $25 billion how is this effort to be accomplished? This issue comes before the state legislature this year. 

Reparations is nothing new. Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “Forty acres and a mule.” At the end of the Civil War in 1865, General William Tecumseh Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15 whereby the Federal Government “rented” mules and provided 40 acres of land to displaced former slaves. This effort was to provide means for self-support. The land came from former plantation owners in coastal South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Later, President Andrew Johnson reversed this order and returned the land to its owners.

But why reparations for descendants of only African slaves. Consider the following: The Cherokee Indians (Native Americans for the woke folks) were forcibly removed from their lands in North Carolina (the Trail of Tears) and relocated in present day Oklahoma. Five native American people groups were included. This was carried out under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Why not return the land to their descendants? And while on the subject of Native Americans, take note of how the western groups were treated. No, they were not slaves. They were just killed or put on reservations. What reparations should their descendants receive?  Give the land back?   

Slavery was and is wrong. Unfortunately, the institution is as old as time itself. But, in the US it has ended. The Republican party helped end it. My ancestors did not own slaves. I don’t own slaves today. So, to pay reparations to descendants of slaves, there should at least be an effort to locate descendants of slave owners. Uh-huh. It’s my tax dollars. 

Understand this; to cheat or discriminate someone out of personal property or freedom is an action that can and should be dealt with in a current legal time frame. Discrimination laws are already in place. So, what is the real motivation for reparations? My thoughts… It is a diversion from real time issues. Tell some select group of people how bad their life is and who is to blame for it. Defund the police. Ignore the rampant drug use and deaths. Ignore the increase in shootings and murder. Ignore the homeless crisis and illegal immigrants flooding across the southern border. Ignore the rise in crime such as mob rioting and looting in the streets. And Mr. Mayor of Chicago, it is mob violence, not youth misbehaving. 

If democrat party leaders shout it loud enough and long enough, the “select group” will believe them and vote for them. That’s the motivation… power in office. 

Walter Allen has a BA degree from Auburn University. He is retired from the paper industry and is a published author.  


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