For the majority of black people who are the “descendants of enslaved Africans” (DOEA), we have always been well aware that our recently freed ancestors were promised 40 acres and a mule — which they never got. Ever since, the issue of reparations has gathered energy, so much so that the presidential hopefuls for the 2020 elections have made it one of the pressing issues being discussed.
What would reparations look like, coming 155 years after the end of slavery? It will also have to take into account the 100 years of Jim Crow laws that followed slavery because, unlike any other group that has come to America, DOEA have always been systematically oppressed at every level of government. We had to fight to be accepted as citizens, to get the right to vote, and to have the same equal opportunities as every other American.
The question of reparations should be at the forefront of questions asked of any candidate running to be president. Where do they stand? If they are in support, what is their vision of reparations. If they don’t support it, why?
For many of us who are DOEA, we know all the questions to ask. But if the shoe is put on the other foot and we are asked questions, are we prepared to answer them? Specifically, could they name that enslaved ancestor who was freed in 1865? Genealogy has always been important. For the majority of black people, unless we take a DNA test, we have no clue from what part of Africa our ancestors originated. We don’t know their names. We don’t know their stories. The miniseries Roots in the 1970s became the encouragement for black people to start looking up and discovering their ancestors. I am blessed in that my family’s history has always been available. So I can trace it back to around 1825 when my great-great-grandfather, Samuel Gains, was born in Kentucky. I’ve yet to do one of those ancestry tests, but it’s on my bucket list.
I am a supporter of DOEA reparations. But I don’t want the government to give me money. I just don’t want to have to pay any money to it. Let me have about 25 years of not paying any kind of taxes. Income taxes, property taxes, car registration, city stickers, utilities taxes, etc. I don’t want to pay the plethora of taxes that are placed on me for, say, 25 years. Even at my age, 65, such a plan would give me the ability to establish wealth that can be passed down to future generations.
Reparations is on the table. I suggest we all be prepared with ideas as to set that table.