Economist and author William “Sandy” Darity has long fought for reparations. He has written about it, debated it, and spoken on the hot button issue.
Reparations has become an election topic, as more and more politicians have been discussing the possibility of reparations for Native Black Americans. In fact, just this week in a historic move, Asheville, North Carolina, has approved reparations for its Black residents.
Darity has been striving for the entire country to pass reparations. Now, the professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies and Economics and the director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University has recorded a TED Talk.
Here are five takeaways from his Ted Talk.
Darity is the fourth generation removed from slavery. “My grandmother was a daughter of a woman who was the child of persons enslaved on Rose Hill Plantation in North Carolina,” he revealed.
Reparations are not exclusively centered around the harms and injustices of slavery, according to Darity, but also the harms inflicted due to ongoing white supremacy. “People say there are no living victims of slavery, but there are a number of us who are living victims of the Jim Crow period,” said Darity, who added that during the post segregation er Black American has had to endure mass incarceration, the police execution of unarmed Black people, housing descrimination, the racial wealth gap.
According to Darity, reparations should be defined as a program of “acknowledgment, redress, and closure for a grievous injustice.” Breaking it down, acknowledgment is a recognition that a “vicious” harm has been done and that the offender has benefited from the execution from this vicious harm. Redress is part of restitution on the part of the culpable party. Closure is a point at which the culpable party and the victimized come to an agreement that the debt has been paid.
Reparations are needed, said Darity, due to the growing racial wealth gap between Black Americans and whites.
“Black Americans constitute about 13 percent of the nation’s population but only possess about 2.6 percent of the nation’s wealth. Black American households have about $800,00 less in net worth than the average white household.”
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“Wealth is a stock concept. It is the difference between the value of what we own and what we owe. It is the net value of our property,” Darity explained. “Wealth is more significant than income terms of providing us with economic security and opportunities to fully participate in society. ” More important, he noted, wealth it gives access to a higher standard of medical services and education, homeownership, legal counsel, and offers a generational financial legacy.
He pointed out how wealth accumulation plays into white supremacy. “Wealth captures the cumulative intergenerational effects of white supremacy in the United States.”