Specifically, Black Americans
In America, shortly after slavery was over, the United States Government promised former slaves they would receive financial compensation for all their hard work for the past two centuries: in addition to making amends for chattel slavery. As most of us know, former Black slaves in America were close to receiving reparations shortly after slavery was over, but they never received what was expected. After President Lincoln’s assassination, President Andrew Johnson not only rescinded President Lincoln’s order to provide Black people reparations but instead provided former slave owners with reparations. Black people who are descendants of chattel slavery in America have been asking for reparations for over one hundred and fifty years. It seems like the topic of reparations for Black Americans is mentioned more and more nowadays.
The funny part is that whenever the discussion about reparations is brought up, everyone and their mother has an opinion about it. How much money should be paid to Black American descendants of slaves? Should the reparations be a lump sum monetary payment? Or should they even receive reparations? I find it very poignant that people who have absolutely no relationship or connection to my ancestors or my parents’ experiences in America have the most to say about what my relatives and I should receive for everything my family endured since their existence in America. Not only is it funny that Non-Black people have so much to say, but Non-Black Americans who are against reparations also believe if Black people receive monetary reparations or land, they will not know what to do with it. Non-Black people think that most Black Americans will not know how to spend or invest their money if reparations are paid via monetary means or by land.
But why are Non-Black people so concerned about how descendants of American chattel slavery will receive their reparations? I’ve heard various different reasons why. Some Non-Black people, say “it’s my tax money” or “I didn’t have anything to do with slavery, so why should I pay for it.” Well, besides the fact everyone in America, directly and indirectly, benefited from slavery, are you aware of how much in taxes Black Americans pay every year? Do you know how much collectively in taxes Black Americans have paid for over one hundred years? Not just financially, but in blood and sweat equity? Do you know how much money America has made from my ancestors for free? My ancestors contributed to the foundation of this economy in America way more than your taxes ever will….So honestly, you can keep your tax money. It will probably end up being invested in a pointless war instead.
The reparations dialogue is a microcosm of a more significant issue in America when it involves the lives of Black people. What is that, you ask? Everybody who is not a Black American has the most significant and most robust opinions about decisions directly affecting Black Americans. Ever since black people have been in America, we have been told what to do or what we need to do by Non-Black people. People believe we cannot make our own decisions and don’t know what’s in our best interest, especially when it relates to issues like systemic racism and issues within the Black community. Everyone has an opinion about what we need to do differently, what we need to do better, and why our hardships are our fault. However, because of de facto segregation, most people in America only spend time with people that look like them and live in neighborhoods with people that look like them. So, I find it so funny that suddenly when it comes to our issues, everybody knows what’s best for us and knows more about our problems… than us.
A few years ago, LeBron James spoke out against racial injustice in America. A news anchor from the Fox News network told him to shut up and just dribble. Collin Kapernick decided to kneel as a form of protest because he was tired of police brutality. People told him to stand up and stated he was disrespecting the flag and he should not protest while he was on the football field (because we all know there is a right time to protest). The Black Panther Party was formed because a group of young Black men and women were tired of police brutality in their neighborhood. They decided to patrol their neighborhood with guns to protect citizens from abusive police. Unfortunately, the US government felt they were a threat, so the FBI infiltrated them, killed them, or sent them to prison. The US government did not approve of their method of addressing police brutality, so many BPP members suffered life-changing consequences. Once again, the funny part is that most of the people who opposed the ways the aforementioned people used to address or bring attention to racial injustice were Non-Black people. They were angry about what Black people were doing to fight for justice or how they were bringing attention to specific issues that plagued Black America. As long as Black American descendants of slaves lived in America, it has never been the right time to demand fundamental human rights; no matter what method was used, it was never done the “correct” way.
The world has been conditioned to think that Black people worldwide, specifically Black people in America, are little kids who need constant supervision and hand-holding. If you think about it, at the end of the day, Black people are constantly being criticized for almost everything they do. Seriously, almost everything Black people do is scrutinized and criticized. Sometimes Black people cannot even leave the house or go somewhere without someone criticizing their appearance or mannerisms. Do not wear your hat like, don’t look mean, your hair looks unkempt, speak proper, etc.
With that being said, through everything American descendants of slavery have experienced, they still have been some of the world’s most successful, innovative, creative, brightest, and talented people. Don’t believe me? Please research all the accomplishments Black Americans achieved twenty-five years, fifty years, and one hundred years after chattel slavery was over…without a bootstrap or boot. However, it does not matter what we do; non-black people will always view us as their minor children who cannot manage to do much without their supervision or permission. Many Non-Black people feel we can’t make the right decision for ourselves or do anything without being told what needs to be done. It’s ingrained in the brain of so many Non-Black people, hell, even some Black people, we can’t do anything right unless Non- Black people give us their permission, approval, supervision, or guidance.
I’m here to tell you that Black people do not need your permission, supervision, guidance, or approval. Black Americans have been telling the world what they need to excel in life for over one hundred years, but Black Americans keep getting everything except what they ask for. Give us our independence, freedom, equality, equity, peace, and….. reparations so we can live our life like any other deserving human being on this earth. Let Black people control their narrative when they are ready, not when you’re comfortable.
Me…personally, the more I read about the history of Black people in America, the more I get tired of learning about the extraordinarily little control we had over our own bodies and destiny. Black Americans do not need babysitters! Take your breast out of our mouth, turn the nanny cam off and stop holding our hand so tight, America!! The truth is, you always needed us more than we needed you…..