The underlying causes [of African Americans’ consistent appearance at the bottom of every socio-political and economic metric] are the deep, deep, deep realms of racial injustice both in our criminal justice system and in our economic system. And the Democratic Party should be on the side of reparations for slavery for this very reason.
I do not believe that the average American is a racist; but the average American is woefully under-educated about the history of race in the United States.
–- Marianne Williamson, First Democratic Party Debate
Despite the fact that reparations had been in the news for almost two weeks running, Marianne Williamson, was the only Democratic Party candidate to address the issue of slavery reparations at the first debate. Her thoughtful and heartfelt answer was virtually ignored because Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) hijacked the question and redirected it to her personal experience with busing as an elementary schoolgirl.
But Williamson has been on the reparations road for many years. Before she decided to run for the White House, she was (and remains) an author and an in-demand speaker and advocate of self-help, spirituality, and “soul force.” Paying modern-day black people for the horrendous sins perpetrated against us by white people and their descendants over the course of the last 400 years comes natural to Williamson.
Of course, present-day white people owe present-day black people, she argues. It’s really very simple: All white people still benefit, whether they want to or not, whether they know it or not, from the sins of their ancestors who may or may not have even owned slaves.
Likewise, says Williamson, all black people, rich, poor, male, female, old, young, still suffer under the system of white supremacy established by those bygone slavers specifically for the benefit of today’s (and beyond) white people.
But let’s hear from Williamson herself. Speaking at a church in New York last year before announcing her candidacy, she brought shouts and tears and hugs and cries with her powerful words.
Over the last few weeks, we have revisited the whole notion of reparations — from the halls of Congress to the kitchen table. Thus, by now, we all should be familiar with the arguments both for and against reparations. By now it should be clear that reparations are not about “white guilt” but justice, restorative justice. Here’s a little “thought experiment”:
Two guys have been playing poker for an entire weekend. But one player has been cheating the whole time. Finally, the cheater’s conscience bothers him to the point that he says, “Look, I know and I’m pretty sure you know that I’ve been cheating you. Please forgive me, okay? Let’s start the game over from scratch, and let bygones be bygones?
The second player smiles, hesitates a moment, and then answers, “Sure. We can start over….but what are you gonna do with all those chips?”
Finally, as Williamson indicates, the only way white supremacy will end is when enough so-called “good” white people will not just call out their racist friends, families and co-workers; but when those folks actually ostracize and chastise, shame, isolate and exile the racists from among them. Indeed, let them go off by themselves somewhere and live out their racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic fantasies against each other.
The rest of us may then get on with living our best lives as members in good standing of the human race.