To the Editor:
I find it extremely disconcerting that so many whites are taking serious offense to even the idea of African-Americans crafting a reparations agenda. Many applauded when numbers of Jews in Europe received monetary reparations for the crime of the Holocaust and when Japanese-Americans, interned during World War II, were paid $20,000 each. It is only when blacks demand what is rightfully theirs that people respond so defensively and with such anger.
It is imperative we be mindful of the fact that the scope and definition of reparations is not limited to merely giving a check to each descendant of African slaves. The first and probably most crucial component of reparations would be a government-sponsored initiative to study the effects of slavery as proposed by Congressman John Conyers. The scope of the agenda also includes fostering African-American entrepreneurship, honestly examining and reforming our present criminal justice system and providing educational grants.
Frankly, we are talking about the longest-running crime against humanity, spanning 500 years, in which a nation experienced generations of economic prosperity at the expense of another race of people. The time has long since passed since the United States ought to have been held to the same standards of human rights that it has historically imposed on other countries around the world.
It is time to repair the damage inflicted upon African-Americans. Let’s just face it. There is a debt owed, and it is time for it to be paid in full.
Nicole J. Williams ’00
March 29, 2001