MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on the recent slavery reparation hearings.
Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen was front and center in the House of Representatives Wednesday for a hearing that took years just to convene. The topic was a politically divisive one; reparations for slavery. Cohen led the hearing as chairman of a House judiciary subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties.
The reason that reparations are so divisive is that opponents view it as a veiled attempt to hold white Americans today financially responsible for a travesty they did not create, and an effort by some African Americans to get money they did not earn.
But the issue is much deeper that just writing individual checks, which likely will never happen anyway. The bill that led to Wednesday’s hearing would merely authorize a national commission to study the long-term effects of slavery on American society and whether reparations are even feasible.
Most supporters say reparations are more about making systemic changes that would improve the lives of many African Americans who, believe it or not, are still living with the effects of slavery. Remedies could include more investment in black neighborhoods, greater access to quality healthcare, improving public schools, even eliminating food deserts and removing blight.
The point is, studying the possibility of reparations should not be this divisive. We simply cannot say that since Congress passed civil rights and voting rights bills and elected a black President, our work is done. Because it’s not. And that’s my point of view.