Reparations debate takes center stage

By Ke’Aysha Strand-Young

No American can flourish on a foundation built illegally and immorally. (Ed Hashey/Bradenton Herald/TNS)

Campus Life hosted “Reparations and Social Justice” at the Marple campus on Oct. 8 to discuss the issue surrounding reparations for African Americans and the profound effects it is expected to have on the upcoming elections.

Presenter Nkechi Taifa, a social justice advocate, is president and CEO of the Taifa Group, LLC, and founding member of the National Commission of Blacks for Reparations in America.

Taifa highlighted the historical significance of the reparations debate and the impact it is expected to have on the 2020 presidential election before a small but attentive group of faculty and students of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

According to Taifa, reparations for slavery is the idea that some form of compensatory payment needs to be made to the descendants of enslaved African Americans.

In addition, Taifa discussed H.R. 40, a bill that John Conyers introduced to the U.S. Congress in 1989 to study reparation proposals.

Conyers served as a U.S. Representative for Michigan from 1965 to 2017.

“H.R. 40 initially started off as a study bill to examine the reparations issue and make recommendations,” Taifa said, before offering her perspective on the history of slavery in America, the U.S. Constitution, and why some Americans believe reparations are necessary.

“There needs to be a formal acknowledgement that there’s been a historical brawl and an official apology for the dehumanization of the enslavement era and beyond,” Taifa explained.

“Recognition that the mental and emotional impact that slavery had and still has on African Americans is important.”

Nkechi Taifa speaks to a small group of students and faculty at the “Reparations and Social Justice event” held at DCCC on Oct. 8.
Photo by Ke’Aysha Strand-Young

Later, Taifa asked guests if they believe that the candidates of the Democratic party are serious about demanding reparations for the descendants of enslaved African Americans.

Many students did not believe that the Democratic Party’s push for reparations is genuine. The general consensus among students was that candidates aren’t really concerned about the issue and are simply pandering to voters to win their votes.

“The Democratic Party is only doing things that pertain to the African American community to win votes, and that is something I despise,” said Tristan Carter-Berry, a liberal arts major.
Not all students agreed, thereby sparking a debate among the group of students.

“I don’t think we will ever formerly agree on civil justice, because you have too many different sides of people coming together,” said a DCCC student who asked to be identified only as “T.J.” “I think there should be an apology because slavery was a big part of history, but there are other things this country should apologize for.”

Taifa also explained basic public policy, how it benefits people of all ethnic backgrounds, and how it gets mistaken for reparations.

“Basic public policy is being looked at in terms of reparations,” Taifa explained. “For example, health care and housing, issues that everyone should be able to take advantage of.”

Taifa concluded the presentation by discussing the elements and future of reparations.
“Reparations is a well-established principle,’ Taifa said. “Not just [in]international law, but domestic law. It’s simply payment of debt.”

Contact Ke’Aysha Strand-Young

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