100 Facts On Reparations For Native Black Americans

100 Facts On Reparations For Native Black Americans

37. Repairing the harm: the mental impact of reparations

Reparations are about more than money. If the U.S. government does go pay reparations it will have a mental impact on society, particularly the descendants of slaves. 

In August 2001, the American Psychological Association sent a delegation to the U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Other Related Intolerance (WCAR), held in Durban, South Africa. 

There was a special section on “Reparations: Repairing the Psychological Harm?” The result was a paper consisting of eight essays– each authored or co-authored by a psychologist who has previously engaged in research related to the psychological effects of oppression and colonialism. Among the essays is one by Raymond Winbush, a leader of the African Descendants caucus at the conference. 

“What is viewed as history by some is viewed as a continuing contemporaneous experience by others,” Winbush wrote, according to a report by the American Psychological Association. The essays “movingly confront us with the deepness and pervasiveness of the wounds and grief of disrupted lives and cultures associated with imperialism, colonialism, enslavement, and oppression. The essays also emphasize the unanimity of the need for reparations (repairing the harm) among various oppressed/colonized people, as well as the differing concepts of the appropriate nature/character of reparations and their actual or potential significance.”

The essays all point to the fact that reparations “fundamentally is not about money – it is about justice. Reparations is closely linked to issues of mental health status, psychological well-being and behavior; reparations is both a political/economic and psychological/cultural issue,” according to the American Psychological Association.

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