Last month, Georgia McDade explored the concept of reparations and this month, she lists some ways in which we might make reparations.
Homesteading: in 1862, enslaved persons could not get land to homestead. Imagine the value of land ceded to a family in 1862. When I learn about families owning 100s of acres or 40 or 50, I often ask how they got this land. Inherited is the answer. A person who could not get the land could not pass land to descendants. Set up a fund from which African Americans can buy, build, remodel houses. Low-interest thirty-year loans would be fitting.
Housing: Many Americans became homeowners as a result of the G. I. Bill, another government action that discriminated against blacks just as they had been discriminated against in the military during each of the wars where they fought. Add the redlining practiced throughout much of the country. Why can’t persons be employed to build Habitat for Humanity houses all over the country? Everyone needs a place to live! Use the remedy above.
Destruction of property: Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, in 1921 and Rosewood, Florida, in 1923 may be the best-known black communities destroyed by jealous, resentful, racists whites, but these towns are not the only places subjected to such hatred. Low-interest loans to begin and shore up businesses could be the remedy.
Education: Begin with Head Start. A preponderance of studies proves that early education is vital. Provide funds for all children to attend Head Start programs. Elementary, middle, and high schools need funds, but more importantly, they need skilled faculty who want to teach the students and believe the students can succeed. Education would extend to college where students could go to college tuition-free. Set up a fund; include funds for transportation and books.
Employment: Persons relegated to low-paying, menial jobs would be in the number to get the low-interest homes. And they would get pensions. We will ignore the four African American CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. When established, the income tax excluded farmers and domestic workers, so there is a good chance many have no Social Security and certainly not pensions. The $600+ some folks get is all they have. They never made enough to save, or catastrophic incidents took the savings. Andrew Yang’s idea of $1000 per household is not so absurd. Many families could fare much better if they could count on this amount monthly. How many persons would no longer be homeless? Many folks go to work every day and live in their cars, RVs, tents, and shelters. There is no count of folks who “couch surf.” Many people could get on their feet with a little help, help that may not be necessary forever but short-term.
The media is yet another place reparations can be made. The number of newspapers, radios, and television stations have been reduced significantly. “90% of the media is controlled by five [actually four] media conglomerates.” (Wikipedia) How many of these owners are African Americans or others of color? Again, funds are needed to support media controlled by African Americans—radio, television, newspapers, magazines.
Persons entangled in the justice system could also use help. Both those imprisoned and those who want to help them need tremendous funds. The number, the percent of African Americans who have been abused by the justice system since before the country began is innumerable!
What people do not realize nor have to live with is the impact on the families of persons imprisoned. In a way, the family goes to prison. The separation is bad; the family income is decreased; the absence of a parent in the home affects countless aspects of a family. More innocence projects with more persons working to free innocent persons and persons long in prison for minor offenses should be funded. One day in prison is too long.
The voting system needs an equally large overhaul. The US has a history of excluding citizens from voting. Before 1870, few blacks voted, but soon whites, especially in the South, began terrorizing would-be voters. Imagine how different states could be had blacks been allowed to vote! Not until 1965 was there a voting rights law with teeth in it, and the Supreme Court removed most of those teeth in 2013. Gerrymandering, as far back as at least 1812, has been part of the system all over the country! Encouraging, training, supporting more persons of color to vote and run for office would improve voting. Voting schools, candidate schools could help improve the system.
With such forces, no one should be surprised black life expectancy has always lagged behind that of whites. (I think stress is the major culprit.) There are problems with prenatal treatment, or the lack of it; the infant mortality rate is lower than that of some underdeveloped countries. Everyone should have the option of getting treatment without worrying about the cost. The free treatment offered in Seattle shows the large numbers of persons who need care and rise early to stand in long lines.
Never is everyone served. Too many people do not see a doctor, fail to fill or refill prescriptions, or take less medicine than prescribed. Blacks have more hypertension, diabetes, heart disease. Provide affordable health care.
~Georgia McDade, Ph.D.
Next month, Dr. McDade writes “What about the cost?”