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Sep 8, 2019 · Last update 1 mo. ago.

Should the U.S. Government pay reparations for slavery?

The topic of the United States paying reparations for slavery was broached in the recent Democratic Party debates, mentioned by Marianne Williamson. This is set to divide democratic candidates but is also a deep divisive proposition, but slavery itself has had deep long-lasting repercussions that are still playing out in the present day, especially in countries such as the United States. What are the issues that make this such a complicated debate, is there a way for the U.S. Government to redress the issues from the country’s past? Should the US Government pay reparations for slavery?
Stats of Viewpoints
Legal mechanisms, despite the hurdles
0 agrees
0 disagrees
Legally difficult
0 agrees
0 disagrees
Yes, moral and social obligations
0 agrees
0 disagrees
Reparations for slavery is an international project
0 agrees
0 disagrees
No, this solution is too simple for the size of the problem
0 agrees
0 disagrees
Yes, but reparations should start with Indigenous Americans
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0 disagrees
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Legal mechanisms, despite the hurdles

There are undeniably many legal and social hurdles that would make reparations for slavery difficult, but despite the scale of the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade cases like this have been won before. As far back as 1783 a woman know only as Belinda petitioned the legislature of Massachusetts detailing the horrors she suffered as a slave and successfully requesting a pension be paid out of her former masters estate, which had previously been confiscated by the state. There were indeed other cases of enslaved people suing their former masters for compensation after being freed, so a precedent has been set despite the large amount of time that has passed. Furthermore slavery has since been recognised internationally as a crime against humanity, it would legally be in the United States' best interest to resolve this dramatic historic crime domestically.

daily.jstor.org/how-an-ex-slave-successfully-won-case-reparations-1783/?utm_source=internalhouse&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=jstordaily_02162017&cid=eml_j_jstordaily_dailylist_02162017 digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1173&context=auilr

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D H
Dec 14
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Legally difficult

Regardless of the moral implications, the issue of reparations for slavery throws up a large number of legal and logistical questions that are extremely difficult to answer. Prior to the 13th Amendment of the US slavery was not illegal, so there is not a clear law that was broken here so there is no body per say to directly pursue damages from. The country is largely a different place now and making the modern people of the US (taxpayers) pay for their ancestor's actions, that may not even have had a hand in the matter, would be unworkable. It would also be an impossible task to find out who lost what and who is owed what, and how much to compensate. How can you put a price tag on something as horrible as the transatlantic slave trade?

law.cornell.edu/background/amistad/slavery.html huffpost.com/entry/reparations-black-americans-slavery_n_56c4dfa9e4b08ffac1276bd7?guccounter=1 spectator.us/poison-reparations-slavery-1619-project

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D H
Dec 13
Created

Yes, moral and social obligations

The US has paid countries for past grievances in retrospect, for example Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted reparations to Japanese Americans who were put into concentration camps by the US government during World War II. Just like the mistreatment of Japanese Americans the US government has a similar moral and social responsibility to deal with the shocking legacy of slavery, one of the worst acts of history. Reparations would benefit segments of society that are still living in with scars of slavery, facing on going racial disparity and the legacy of the legal inequalities that stem from slavery, Jim Crow laws.

nytimes.com/2019/06/19/us/reparations-slavery.html blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/06/04/why-reparations-for-slavery-could-help-boost-the-economy

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D H
Dec 13
Created

Reparations for slavery is an international project

Slavery preceded America as a nation, it wasn’t the US acting alone and could more accurately be described as a European colonial legacy America inherited and fought a civil war to bring to an end. This is a bigger issue than one country and if reparations are going to be seriously implemented it would have to be tackled by all the countries involved together. All the European, Caribbean, North and South American nations involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade need to act collectively, possible forming some international fund to be channelled directly into education and/or welfare programs to try and end racial inequality. Likewise fund reparations programs could go toward a sovereign wealth fund or even into organisations that work toward ending ongoing slavery and human trafficking in other parts of the world. An international crime of this gravity needs a truly international solution and that should form the foundation for reparations for slavery.

community.hannity.com/t/why-does-the-u-s-get-stuck-with-all-of-the-blame-for-slavery/9918# dwfed.org/2020/06/international-law-demands-reparations-for-american-slavery

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D H
Dec 13
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No, this solution is too simple for the size of the problem

The horrible history of American slavery cannot be fixed with further discrimination, positive or otherwise. To the contrary, the US government and society at large are slowly taking steps to heal the rifts that stem from this horrible chapter in history, it is just arguably was so disturbing it will take a long time. But due to the tireless effort of activists from the civil rights movement to modern movements of the Internet age, the American mentality is shifting and unacceptable behaviours that hark back to the country’s slavery foundations are being called out more than ever before. But money cannot fix the problems African Americans now face; schemes such as counselling for victims of police brutality would be a much more worthwhile and effective policy than paying the ancestors of the victims of slavery.

nytimes.com/2019/06/19/us/reparations-slavery.html

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D H
Mar 1
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Yes, but reparations should start with Indigenous Americans

Reparations should be made for slavery, but efforts to atone for the massive persecution of Native American tribes should arguably happen first. Although slaves were given the most degrading and oppressive existence in the United States, during the same period of history genocide was perpetrated against native American tribes to the point of the erasure of whole people groups off the face of the Earth. What Hitler failed to do the U.S. largely succeeded in against the natives of North America. So this may be the better place to start, reparation programs this large would be unthinkably complicated, but starting with smaller people groups with geographical consistency (Native American’s being mostly forced to live on reserves) a workable reparations scheme would be a little easier to realise, making this a suitable test run for the larger scheme of slavery reparations.

dailyherald.com/discuss/20190804/first-give-reparations-to-native-americans historynewsnetwork.org/article/7302

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Sep 8, 2019
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