The reparation desparation
8/22/2002 12:00:00 AM - Larry Elder
"I just might walk up to the nearest white man and say, 'You
don't understand this, this is a black thing,' and slap 'em, just for my
mental health. . . . If they don't pay us reparations now, we're talking
about scorched earth." New York City Councilman Charles Barron delivered
this love letter during a recent "Millions for Reparations" gathering in
Washington, D.C. Barron also said that if the government failed to act
swiftly, he promised to storm the Treasury Department and take the money for
From the same mall where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his
famous "I have a dream" speech, during which he urged Americans to judge
based on the content of the character, reparations speakers made their case:
Blacks remain "behind" because of slavery; slavers forcibly brought blacks
to America only to face oppression; the Constitution, until recently, did
not apply to blacks; the "black plight" results from slavery; the U.S.
government needs to make a formal apology to blacks for the damage caused by
the transatlantic slave trade and its social and economic consequences;
(blacks) need payment for 310 years of slavery, of destruction of (their)
minds and the robbery of (their) culture; the slave trade robbed blacks of
their culture, blah, blah, blah.
The movement asks us to ignore, dismiss or minimize a few facts:
-- The black American gross domestic product would make it one
of the world's 15 wealthiest countries.
-- The black American poverty rate, at 22 percent, is at an
all-time low. A few years ago, a Fortune poll found that corporate blacks
felt optimistic at the prospects for corporate upper mobility.
-- A recent issue of Forbes looked at the top 100 celebrities,
as defined by income, number of magazine cover stories, number of articles
about, and number of Internet Web site hits. Of the 100, blacks (including
Tiger Woods) made the list 26 times.
-- A recent Harris Poll asked Americans to name their top hero
or heroine. Jesus Christ topped the list, followed by Martin Luther King Jr.
and Colin Powell. Michael Jordan also made the top 10 -- and 10 of the top
30 are black (if you count Tiger Woods).
-- Newsweek recently ran a cover story on Stanley O'Neal of
Merrill Lynch; Ken Chenault of American Express; and Robert D. Parsons of
AOL Time Warner -- all black CEOs.
Pro-reparations "black leaders" like the Rev. Jesse Jackson
remain locked in the victicrat mantra that blames slavery for America's
"black plight," while, of course, suggesting money as the solution.
Will the "black leadership" stand up and recognize the primary
problem facing America, in general -- black America, in particular -- the
absence of involved, responsible fathers?
Rapper LL Cool J recently walked off the stage at a concert in
Irvine, Calif., when rival gang members began fighting in the audience.
Later, the rapper bluntly said, "It's just appalling. I think that it's just
a prime example of how much how we as black men really need fathers and how
our community is really suffering in terms of role models, and having
someone around us who can guide us in the right direction, and how we are so
in desperate need of attention that we will ruin an event just to get --
just to feel important."
NBA star-turned-basketball-analyst Marques Johnson once analyzed
the behavior of talented but surly black Portland Trail Blazers basketball
player Rasheed Wallace. "Some of these . . . African-American players today
come from single-parent homes," said Johnson, "where there's no strong
father figure in the home . . . "
Even the Nation of Islam's Minister Louis Farrakhan, during the
"Million Man March" said, "We would like to structure a march calling on
black men in particular to stand in unity to declare to the world that we
are ready to shoulder our responsibility as the heads of our families and
leaders in our community. . . . We want to reverse the ugly look of black
men throughout the world by giving the world a positive look at militant,
dedicated, sober, determined black men. . . . It is our responsibility to do
for ourselves and our families."
Will reparations magically reduce the percentage of black
children born to unwed mothers? Will the money reduce the nearly 1,250
mostly minority gangs in L.A., comprising some 150,000 mostly young people?
And perhaps, more importantly, will reparations improve the often
self-defeating attitude of so many blacks? A Los Angeles Times poll once
asked whether "everyone has the power to succeed" in America. Low-income
whites said "Yes" more frequently than did blacks earning $50,000 a year or
No Americans own slaves and no American slaves still live. The
overwhelming majority of Americans object to the absurdity of
non-slaveholders compensating non-slaves. But when and if I get my check, I
intend to make a contribution to the campaign of LL Cool J for president --
of the NAACP.