Quillette writer Coleman Hughes came prepared for battle, and he was well fortified with defensive statements from history and many examples.
Hughes called the bill to study slave reparations as a “moral and political mistake.”
I have never supported reparations because I have never been a slave or have felt the result of my ancestors being slaves. When I look back on my life, my decisions determine my future and my path. I know that there is a group within black America that feels that they cannot get any further in life because of what happened over 200 years ago. Hughes, also realizing this, addressed it in his statement to the House committee.
Here are a few excerpts of Hughes’s testimony:
Hughes: “Nothing I’m about to say is meant to minimize the horror and brutality of slavery and Jim Crow. Our failure to pay reparations directly to freed slaves after the civil war to be one of the greatest injustices ever perpetrated by the US government,”
“Nearly everyone close to me told me not to testify today. They told me that even though I have only ever voted for Democrats, I would be perceived as Republican and therefore hated by half the country. Others told me that by distancing myself from Republicans, I would end up angering the other half of the country. And the sad truth is that they were both right. That’s how suspicious we have become. Of one another. That’s how divided we are as a nation”
“Black people don’t need another apology. We need safer neighborhoods and better schools. We need a less punitive criminal justice system. We need affordable health care. And none of these things can be achieved through reparations for slavery.”
“Reparations by definition are only given to victims, so the moment you give me reparations, you’ve made me into a victim without my consent. Not just that, you’ve made 1/3 of black Americans who poll against reparations into victims without their consent, and black Americans have fought too long for the right to define themselves to be spoken for in such a condescending manner.”
“The question is not what America owes me by virtue of my ancestry, the question is what all Americans owe each other by virtue of being citizens of the same nation and the obligation of citizenship is not transactional. It’s not contingent on ancestry. It never expires, and it can’t be paid off. For all these reasons, bill HR 40 is a moral and political mistake.”
I agree with the witness that reparations would be divisive and could be considered an insult to many black Americans. While some would see this as money in their pocket, it could start a whole litany of problems down the road.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing entitled “H.R. 40 and the Path to Restorative Justice,” where witnesses such as Mr. Hughes, testified about slave reparations.
HR 40 is a bill which proposes a commission to study reparations.
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