The idea of the U.S. government providing reparations for slavery is one of those radical proposals that makes the rounds every couple of years, but Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson wants to go one step further. Rather than going through the unfavorable political struggle to pass a reparations bill, liberal whites should just start handing money to the black people in their lives.
In a forthcoming book called Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, the professor calls on whites to create an IRA and start putting money in it. No, not a retirement account; Dyson recommends that guilty whites start an “individual reparations account.” From that fund, they can begin making payments to the blacks in their lives or donations to groups like the United Negro College Fund.
But don’t think that you have to do a lot of planning and preparation to make good on the sins of your (maybe) ancestors. Dyson says that reparations can be as simple as paying “the black person who cuts your grass double what you might ordinarily pay.”
In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, Professor Dyson said that whites needed to sacrifice a little if they wanted to make a real difference.
“Look, if it doesn’t cost you anything, you’re not really engaging in change; you’re engaging in convenience,” Dyson said. “I’m asking you to do stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily do. I’m asking you to think more seriously and strategically about why you possess what you possess.”
Since none of that is likely to come to fruition, though, don’t worry: Democrats on Capitol Hill are still pushing to make federal reparations a thing. It was reported this week that members of the Congressional Black Caucus re-introduced legislation to form a special commission that would determine how and if reparations are to be paid to descendants of slaves.
Whether it’s Democrats in Washington trying to make a name for themselves or random social justice warriors from the academic sector trying to do the same, reparations for slavery are a non-starter. Fact is, no one alive today was a slave in the American South. We can, should, and must live our own lives…in our own times. Racial leaders should look forward, not backwards. We will not remedy the sins of the past with expensive token gestures in the present, and we have no earthly reason to try.