Black-Only Reparations? Good Luck!

On February 10, Steve Hilton's The Next Revolution Fox TV program had a small panel discussing the infamous "Green New Deal."  One of the guests, Tezlin Figaro, wasn't happy.  She allowed that she was tired of hearing about the green deal and that it is time for a black New Deal.

She wanted reparations of various types, but exclusively for blacks.  When it was brought up that in the last two years, black unemployment had drastically improved, she just said, "Not good enough."  She repeated this line to several issues that were brought up to show improvements in the black community.  She wanted plans for blacks only.  All this was because they had suffered from slavery and by extension reduced opportunity over the years.

People rarely take this direct tack anymore.  These days, there's a little more finesse, trying to include all aggrieved parties.  Ms. Figaro was having none of it — blacks are deserving of their own attention and special programs.

Since I firmly assert my right to disagree with a black person and not be called a racist, I feel justified in pointing out a couple of things.

There are two problems with her theory.

1. Who is "black"?

2. Whatever the amount, it will never be enough.  You can't stick one little pinky toe in these waters.

On the first issue — who is actually "black"?  

Shall we use the Elizabeth Warren standard of 1/1024?  Universal DNA testing would have more corrupt outcomes than a South Florida election.

Shall we use the Rachel Dolezal standard of "identifying" as black?  When freebies are at stake, a lot of identifying would be going on.

Shall we just go with skin color?  I don't think so.  The capturing and sale of native African populations was largely a west African phenomenon.  Would our large Somali population share in the largesse?  They did not come through the slave ship route and do not share the slave ancestry story that Ms. Figaro presumably has.  

Somali-Americans are nonetheless definitely black.  Ironically, they are largely Muslim, Islam being the only widespread belief system in which slavery is an integral part.  I'm not talking about the de facto enslavement of women who undergo genital mutilation and are denied education or any other experience that might serve as an entree to a non-Muslim life.  A great many passages in the Koran and the Hadith refer to the etiquette of slavery — who can and can't do what to whom and the like.

Where do Caribbean blacks fall on the scale of reparations worthiness?  Some Italian-Americans with a good suntan are darker than they are.  What about Indians (from India), some of whom are quite dark?

The committee assigned to determine blackness for this purpose would never finish its assignment.

The current trend in advertising at every level in the U.S. is to show groups and spokespeople that represent as many races as possible.  Clothing and other family-oriented product promotions are almost always now shown with interracial couples.  This trend has a normalizing effect and makes Ms. Figaro's job of deciding on reparations recipients based on blackness very difficult, indeed.  It's cool to be "inclusive," and Ms. Figaro's demands are anything but.

On the second front, how much is enough?  Some people may agree with Ms. Figaro and may feel that had their great, great grandfathers had a fighting chance at the American business game, they might be millionaires today.  They might like the American taxpayer to concede the success they may have had, compare it to their actual present lot in life, and pay the difference.  This is more than merely dopey; it is insufficient. 

Cash for presumably lost opportunities does not address the "pain and suffering" angle.  That's where the real money is.  But even that wouldn't matter, because it would also be insufficient, in letter and in spirit.

Clearly, reparations for blacks alone is not workable.  Even more importantly, why seek to institutionalize your victimhood?  Why enshrine the loss of your ancestors in  a permanent posture of being somehow less than whole?  I admire those ancestors — they survived, they procreated, they succeeded.  Ms. Figaro should contemplate the Holocaust-survivors who refused reparations because they did not want to monetize their suffering or cheapen their dignity.  All they want is for people to know what happened so it doesn't happen again.  Ms. Figaro is an attractive, intelligent woman who is proud of her heritage — no more so than these Jews.

I'm not saying there's no there there, but ignoring victories like increased employment and the increased rate of normalizing our social differences does not contribute to constructive debate.  There are plenty of accomplishments for black Americans to be proud of, individually and collectively.  If equality is what you are really after, more progress might be made by highlighting positive things rather than projecting bitterness and making unreasonable demands.