Define the term, reparations. In your view, do African Americans deserve reparations? Assess the attempts by African Americans to gain reparations. Discuss the reasons that reparations activists believe these payments are important to the continued economic advancement of the Black Community.
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Reparation is a deliberate action taken by a government, an institution, or an individual to compensate for damage caused to an injured party. Reparation can take various forms including but not limited to financial compensation. In the United States of America reparation for slavery refers to compensation that would be offered by the government or any other complicit party to the descendants of slaves to redress injury caused by the enslavement of their ancestors. The demand by some African Americans for reparation for slavery appears to be a good idea at least in theory but its practicality raises serious questions. The descendants of African American slaves should not be compensated any further in consideration of forced uncompensated labor their ancestors performed over a century ago.
Though slavery is unjust and there is no denying that indeed it injured the ancestors of the modern-day African Americans, it is not in the best interest of present-day America to compensate African Americans for it. This act has the potential to do more harm to already fragile race relationships. Other Americans sympathize with the situation the modern-day African Americans find themselves in. This sympathy can quickly turn into anger and perhaps hatred if the government compensates them using the taxpayers’ money. This will negate the gains made so far about racial relationships. It would be hard to explain to Americans of other races that they have to finance a skim to redress injustices they did not commit.
Attempts to get reparation from the American government are unjustified because there were more players than one. To begin with, the first American government was constituted in the sunset days of slavery. If it were to compensate the descendants of African slaves, then it would be fair to consider only the time the United States of America was in place. A second hurdle is the sheer amount of money it would involve. Such an undertaking would require trillions of dollars. Such huge amounts of dollars may exert a negative effect on the economy. It is also important to consider the fact that African slaves were sold by fellow Africans. Therefore, proper compensation would require that African governments also make their contribution. The African chiefdoms and kingdoms benefited from the proceeds of the slave trade.
Reparation activists argue that the American economy highly benefited from the slave trade and slavery. The argument has been made that the descendants of African slaves should be compensated for what their ancestors worked for. They further claim that slavery is to blame for the current bad economic situation of African Americans.
African Americans have worked for political power and incorporation on the local level as well. What types of activism did they pursue, and did they achieve power and representation in local (or city) politics?
Historically some strategies were employed by African American activists to achieve power and representation. These methods were largely effective at some point in the history of the American civil rights movement. More often than note two forms of activisms were used during this time. There were non-violent protests and violent protests.
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Several states did not allow African Americans to vote. Civil rights activists called for mass demonstrations to increase awareness of the need for African Americans to be allowed to vote. During this time the main focus was to get African Americans to register as voters and be allowed to vote. In some instances, these peaceful demonstrations turned violent. It is also important to note that some activists encouraged violent protests like riots. It appears as if to this group of activists the end was more important than the means.
Another form of activism that was largely effective was the use of boycotts. This involved boycotting services offered by the then federal governments in a bid to coerce them to take some action. This form of activism is anchored on embarrassing the wrongdoer. Instances are recorded in history where the black activists boycotted the use of public transport.
In modern-day America, activism is still active though the approach has largely changed. For instance, in the run-up to the 2008 presidential elections, some activists came up with programs to urge African Americans to take part in the election. Activists took responsibility for ensuring that African Americans understood the importance of voting.
The involvement of black people in politics has not had a big impact on the incorporation of African Americans into politics as anticipated. This becomes clearer when one examines the high ranking officials of both parties either at the city level or national level. It is hard to find African Americans on the list of senior party officials. However, on the other hand, some observers think that African Americans are now fairly incorporated into American politics.
This is because some African American politicians have successfully sought elective positions. It is also important to judge the extent of incorporation of African Americans into local and national politics against the total population of black people in America. African Americans make up a small portion of the American population. Therefore, success thus far achieved can be regarded as substantial. This success was manifested when an African American was elected as the president of the United States of America.
Many observers argue that African Americans gained power and representation in the executive branch and party politics. Do you agree with this viewpoint?
Representation of African Americans in the executive branch and party politics is still far away from being regarded as successful. The civil rights activists had power politics in mind when they agitated for black people to be allowed to exercise their right to vote. However, this has not been realized owing to several reasons.
The Democratic Party and the Republican Party as presently constituted do not reflect any significant rise of African Americans to power. The executive branch and party politics are still dominated by white Americans. This is perhaps a reflection of their population and not a case of racial prejudice. A careful analysis of the parties reveals that a few African Americans are in the top ranks of the major parties.
A probable reason for this is the reluctance of African Americans to take part in party politics. Many African Americans identify with either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party but are not willing or do not see a reason to take part actively in party politics. Active participation guarantees positions in the executive arm of a party. Positions available are occupied through elections. Therefore, it is not hard to figure out that only active members will gain the confidence of the electorate.
Another possible reason for this is the legacy of historical injustices. It has been claimed that some of the effects of slavery are still felt today. It has been argued that African Americans often find themselves in a vicious cycle of poverty. Poverty forces people to work extra hard just to make ends meet. This leaves little time for politics. Poverty is also responsible for low literacy levels in this community. Some do not afford to pay for advanced education. And even though advanced education is not required to seek executive positions in a party, it does exert a significant effect on the outcome of such an election. Lack of advanced education may also discourage a potential candidate.
Power and representation in the executive branch and party politics have remained elusive to the African Americans because of racial prejudice. It is possible that some voters still harbor some racial prejudices against African Americans. Though this cannot be substantiated, it is highly likely that some non-African American voters do not like the idea of a black leader. This is hard to substantiate because it can be masked in such a noble idea as voting. Voting is a right bestowed on every citizen by the constitution. In exercising such a right some people may let racial prejudice influence their decisions. This makes it difficult for them to be held responsible for their actions.
African Americans had not had Congressional representation for decades. But they have managed to gain representation, with some serving multiple terms in the House of Representatives. Given the size of Congress, how can these representatives assist African Americans to gain political incorporation and equality in the country? In fact, how do they retain their seats, given the wealth deprivation in the Black community?’African Americans had for a long time not managed to get congressional representation for some reason. These reasons range from racial prejudice to wealth deprivation in the black community. African Americans who make it to the House of Representatives should use the special opportunity to assist African Americans to gain political representation and equality.
The representatives should take bills that are designed to level the playing ground into the house. Such bills would go a long way in assisting African Americans who were previously deprived of wealth gain representation easily. It is easier for wealthy Americans to win elective seats because they can assemble better campaign teams. African American representatives can also use their positions to go round the country urging African Americans to take formal education seriously. It has been shown that education can be used as a source of wealth. Education has a unique potential to make the playing ground level for everyone. In some cases, it may also improve the ratings of a candidate.
The representatives should also use their position to convince African Americans to stop clinging to the past. The populace needs to be convinced that it is of no use to expect compensation for historical injustices while doing nothing. Complains and crying over the past have their time but other nation-building activities should also be given a fair share of time.
African Americans who make it to the House of Representatives have managed to retain their seats either by design or by chance. They have managed to retain their seats courtesy of their fundraising techniques. It is a known fact that the black populace in America is lean on wealth. However, to circumvent this challenge many African American members of the House of Representatives hold fundraising functions. One has to be an excellent fundraiser if they are to raise a considerable amount of money.
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Some have also managed to retain their seats by delivering what the electorate wants. Owing to the massive disadvantage they suffer during campaigns, honesty and integrity remain the only grounds they can out-perform their rivals. Integrity has always worked for both the American voter and the candidate.