Student Jayden Vance of J.R. Masterman, summed up: “Possible reparations could be money and statues, but I think appropriate reparations would be free services. Many African Americans are struggling and live in poverty because their families could not recover from slavery. I believe that free healthcare/medical care and free higher education because it would be very beneficial. It would provide African Americans with free doctors visits and medication and free college and university could provide poor children with opportunities to get a good job to support their families. They could become doctors, and lawyers, and presidents. There is nothing the United States could appropriately do to make up for this, but they can make an effort.”
Student Jillian Steeves of Danvers, MA, wrote: “Slavery did not just affect those alive during that era; its effects have created a cycle of oppression that still impacts the ancestors of slaves today. Our society favors those who are wealthy and well-educated, two qualities which are passed from parent to child. Money and class distinction are for the most part hereditary, and it is extremely hard to succeed in school without the help of an educated parent. This means that the children of slaves were at a significant disadvantage compared to wealthy white children. This continues all the way down the line to the modern era. Not only do Black people face far more economic and academic obstacles, but also this phenomenon contributes to the overall perception of Black people.”
She added: “The United States owes an apology to the descendants of slaves for creating a cycle of racial oppression which, to this day, still affects black communities. It is not enough for nice words, though. The only way to truly make up for past actions, and to bridge the gap created by racism, is for the government to offer financial compensation, academic support, and other social services to victims of racism.”
Another student, Jacob Jarrett of Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC, said: “I’m Black, and it is undeniable that the effects of racism, enslavement, and centuries of oppression have a negative impact on the lives of black people to this very day. I know that the inability of Black people to hold high paying jobs, receive a proper education, or hold any political positions of substance has prevented the growth of the Black community as a whole. With that being said, reparations do not need to be paid.”
He suggested: “Rather than throwing money at your problems, why not invest in us? Invest in Black business. Invest in Black communities. Invest in Black education. Action needs to be taken. Not to repay us for ruining our people and our culture, but to remedy the lasting effects of the sins of white Americans throughout history.
Ryan Boaz of Hoggard High School in Wilmington, N.C., opposed reparations. “While I fully believe slavery in America is reprehensible and is a dark part of our history, I do not believe the government today is responsible for the actions taken over 250 years. Ultimately, I should not be responsible for the actions of my ancestors…If we start giving out reparations, I see a multitude of problems arising. For example, what will the burden of proof be, or will there need to be any? How will we determine how much money someone is owed? Where will this money come from? Oh, you say the government. So, what you really mean is the American people, because that’s where the government gets their money. So every single American who pays taxes is responsible for the actions of their forefathers, the actions that their own ancestors might not have even been a part of. I see reparations as an excuse to get a free handout and to take a shortcut around hard work.”
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