Saturday, October 11, 2014

Making the Case for Reparations - Blackness as a Financial Liability

I've never really given much thought to black people being given reparations for slavery, or the Jim Crow despite having family members who lived during both eras.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has taken a lot of heat for his article that does make the case for reparations to black people, not only for slavery but for the discrimination we endure to this day. He does so in a matter of fact manner that does not even question whether such discrimination is in evidence which, to my mind, is half the battle.

But lately, there's an interesting case that hit the news that seems to make the case for reparations as well Ta-Nehisi Coates. (I had no idea how to pronounce his name, having only ever seen it in print and never heard it pronounced. Well you can check out his episode on "The Colbert Report" and hear him talk about reparations and learn to say his name correctly.)

I'm referring to the case of the white lesbian parents who were mistakenly given the sperm of a black donor, resulting in the birth of a child who is "bi-racial."

One of the mom's is suing saying that the birth of this bi-racial child is causing them economic hardship. The very fact of this child being black is determining where they will live due to discrimination in their own community. This has the potential to change where they will work, what family members they can associate with. Even such a small thing as getting this child's hair done is causing them additional expense for travel to further neighborhoods and additional cost and learning - and therefore they expect to be compensated for the economic loss as well as the emotional issues they did not expect for merely being associated with blackness.

As I read the "complaint" from the mom in the lawsuit it dawned on me that what she's referring to is what we call "The Black Tax." Despite consistently being paid less than our white peers, life is more expensive when you're black.

But the mother in the lawsuit is claiming that blackness is putting her at a disadvantage in a society that is mostly white. If merely being associated with blackness is putting her at a disadvantage, how much more is actually being black in a majority white society a disadvantage?

If this woman is compensated for merely being associated with blackness, shouldn't black people be compensated for actually being black?

It seems to me like she's coming in on the tail end of centuries of oppression and demanding compensation for something that she never even experienced. But being a lesbian woman, she knew about oppression and bigotry but she chose to live in a community where those "values" were reinforced. Having a black child makes that impossible and she expects money to make up for it.

I wonder if this woman realizes that she's telling millions of black people that what we're experiencing and saying is not only real, but deserves financial compensation.

I hope she wins her lawsuit - if so, she has kicked a door wide open for every black person to be compensated for the discrimination we have suffered through and been oppressed by.

It's not 40 acres and a mule, but it would be a good start.

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