White Americans opposed to paying reparations to descendants of slaves might not realize their ancestors received them after their slaves were freed. According to an op-ed by professor Tera Hunter in the New York Times, President Abraham Lincoln paid white Union loyalists up to $300 for every enslaved person freed. The reparations were made through the District of Columbia Emancipation Act.
According to Hunter, the largest individual payout under the act was $18,000 for 69 slaves. In other cases, slaveowners petitioned state, local and colonial governments for compensation when their “property” was lost or stolen.
Hunter also cites the examples of France forcing Haiti to pay them for decades after Haiti’s successful slave rebellion that landed the island nation into decades of debt it still has yet to rebound from; and England paying slaveholders in Caribbean colonies approximately $26.2 million when it abolished slavery.
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“That’s right, slaveowners got reparations. Enslaved African-Americans got nothing for their generations of stolen bodies, snatched children and expropriated labor other than their mere release from legal bondage,” Hunter wrote.
As the debate for reparations for descendants of slaves rages on, many white Americans, including President Donald Trump, don’t see it happening – nor do they think it should. But what position would they find themselves in if the roles were reversed? What id their ancestors, nor they themselves ever got their just due?
Per usual, when something is beneficial to white people things tend to take a different tone. Even some Black people are divided on the subject. But if America truly wants to right its wrongs and help heal the racial divide, reparations NEED to happen.
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