Reparations for slavery has always been a controversial topic in the black community. The issue has gained momentum recently, with several Caribbean nations renewing their commitment to seek recompense from countries that benefited from the atrocities of the transatlantic slave trade.
However, not everyone in the black community is in favor of righting the wrongs of hundreds of years of enslavement of black people with reparations.
Here are nine black leaders who don’t support reparations.
President Barack Obama
Obama has been consistently against the idea of reparations, arguing that the government should instead combat the legacy of slavery by improving schools, health care and the economy for all Americans.
“I have said in the past – and I’ll repeat again – that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed,” he said.
Condoleezza Rice, Former Secretary of State
“Given the fact that there’s plenty of blame to go around for slavery — plenty of blame to go around among African and Arab states, plenty of blame to go around among Western states — I think we’re better to look forward, not point fingers backward,” Rice said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in 2001.
Artur Davis, Former Alabama U.S. House Representative
“[It’s] hard to see the space for significant debate on reparations,” said Davis. Instead of focusing on reparations, “[people must] try and find some sort of a unified plan for reviving economic prospects.”
Source: “Yes We Did?: From King’s Dream To Obama’s Promise” by Cynthia Griggs Fleming
Thomas Sowell, Economist and Social Theorist
Sowell said in a 2012 interview: “The people made worse off by slavery were those who were enslaved. Their descendants would have been worse off today if born in Africa instead of America. Put differently, the terrible fate of their ancestors benefited them. If those who were enslaved were alive, they would deserve huge reparations and their captors would deserve worse punishments than our laws allow. But death has put both beyond our reach. Frustrating as that may be, creating new injustices among the living will not change that.”
Shelby Steele, Award-Winning Author
“Shelby Steele is the best-known black opponent of all reparations. Labeled a ‘neo-conservative’, Steele said reparations fall into line behind the fight for welfare programs that ‘only subsidized black inertia.’ ‘The demand for reparations,’ he said, ‘is yet another demand for white responsibility, when today’s problem is a failure of black responsibility.'”
Armstrong Williams, Political Commentator
Williams wrote in 2001: “By failing to draw a distinction between past and present, the reparations issue encourages the view that all blacks are victims, and that all whites are collectively responsible. Simply to regard all members of a group as victims neatly removes such terms as ‘character’ and ‘personal responsibility’ from the cultural dialogue. After all, what need is there for individual striving when it is plainly understood that all the difficulties that blacks suffer are the direct, indisputable result of incidents that occurred centuries ago? The real danger with reparations, then, is that it presumes victim status for all members of a fixed group.”
Alan Keyes, Political Activist and Former Presidential Candidate
“The issue of slavery was very prominent in the minds of the young men who went into the cannon’s mouth during the Civil War,” Keyes said in 2002. “[A] lot of folks went consciously, believing that God called them to give their lives to repair the moral wrong of slavery. Something money could not do. So, they gave their blood.
Joseph C. Phillips, Former Star of ‘The Cosby Show,’ Former National Co-Chair of the African American Steering Committee for Bush-Cheney 2004, and Republican National Committee’s African-American Advisory Board Member
In his biography, Phillips writes: “Reparations advocates argue that this current generation of black people has not shared in the bounty that is America and that any pathology in the black community is rooted in the legacy of slavery. How a monetary payment will address either wrong is unclear, as does the morality of taking money from people who never owned slaves in order to pay people that were never enslaved. But reparations are not about righting historical wrongs; it is about massaging the egos of those leading the movement.”
Source: “He Talk Like a White Boy: Reflections of a Conservative Black Man on Faith, Family, Politics, and Authenticity” by Joseph C. Phillips
Ward Connerly, Founder and President of the American Civil Rights Institute
“If there is a debt, it was created by another generation, another time and place in our history, and in America we do not embrace the notion that I am responsible for my father’s debts,” said Connerly, who helped lead an anti-affirmative action movement in California.
Source: courant.com, 2001