Recently, BET co-founder Robert Johnson proposed that reparations are needed for the African-American community in the United States to the tune of 14 trillion dollars.
That used to sound like an astonishing figure, but in the age of coronavirus where it seems trillions can be made available at will, maybe it’s not quite so unattainable after all?
Or maybe it is politically and legislatively unattainable so we should think of another way we can come up with big sums for good causes, which I describe in this article, and have previously.
As you know, this site has always been about taking power into your own hands to bring positive change to your own life and the world.
First of all, though, let’s establish the justness of the cause of reparations.
For centuries, there was a race of people in the United States who labored to build it, establish it, and more, without compensation, or subpar compensation at best, against their will.
Slavery was unjust and we can all agree on that.
In a just system, people would be compensated appropriately after the fact if they were found to be paid unfairly or, worse, if their labor was forced or stolen.
Today, we have laws (albeit imperfect) to prevent those sorts of things, so we admittedly understand the concept of righting wrongs in terms of labor-compensation.
This is not a foreign concept to us. If you were withheld rightful compensation for work you did, you would utilize available channels to receive that compensation and, in some cases, additional for damages.
We also understand that, for a very long time, compensation for labor was stolen from a race of people in this country, both as a nation and prior to its founding.
When looked at through this lens, the concept of reparations is unassailable, no different than the compensation we allot for wrongful labor practices today.
Where the idea of reparations sometimes hits a snag is when people start to feel the collective guilt of others upon themselves personally. Some will note that they never took part in slavery. Perhaps their ancestors did, or perhaps their ancestors were not even in this country at the time slavery was an institution, therefore they feel they should not be held responsible.
Combined with seemingly astronomical sums of money that seem unaffordable, or at least seemed unaffordable, along with the seeming difficulty of the task, some object to the idea.
Once the cause of justice is established, however, difficulty should not enter the equation. Since we have established the just cause of reparations, let’s find a way to overcome the objections of some by proposing a way forward that everyone can not only get behind, but celebrate together.
It’s a simple one, really.
One thing the coronavirus pandemic has taught us is that the US government is able to quickly deliver payments to American citizens.
They did this by sending a check, or direct deposit, to most Americans under its first stimulus bill.
So, we know they have the infrastructure.
What we also know is there is a large appetite among its citizens to achieve the payment of reparations. And although that appetite is there, the political feasibility may not be.
Beyond that, the political debate could also serve to inflame tensions or create new ones. It could have the potential to tear the country apart.
We don’t want that, either.
We want this to be a healing process that brings unity, heals old wounds, and brings restoration.
So how do we combine the appetite to make this happen with the reality that the mechanism to make payments of this kind are now shown to be in place?
And, beyond that, to do so in a way that brings people together, creates racial unity and harmony, and allows us all to celebrate the righting of a wrong and the start of a brand new day together?
A public-private partnership, driven by the people
Someone with the wherewithal, the connections, and the know-how, who can sit down with the relevant parties in government, be it from the Treasury Department or other relevant agencies, can arrange to set up a nationwide crowdfunding effort to get willful contributions from the people. When the goal is reached, those funds can be sent to the Treasury Department to be dispersed as reparations, using similar mechanisms as were used to provide the coronavirus lockdown stimulus checks.
(Whoever has the wherewithal, mind you, will likely not be just one individual. It will likely take a group with clout, social status, and reach to make this happen. The size of this group could be quite large.)
Once paid, not only will reparation payments result in life-changing money for those who receive it, it can also help to relieve many of the economic inequalities that we see today. This could result in the greatest leveling of the economic playing field we have seen since the abolition of slavery itself.
The question is, how can we be certain this goal can be achieved by crowdfunding and no force of government legislation?
We have seen how the American people respond to righteous causes via crowdfunding before. We see it every day.
Many more people than we likely realize would want to contribute to something like this, whether they had slaves in their ancestry or not.
Beyond the good-hearted nature of so many of our people, we also have an untold number of “influencers” today all over social media platforms. This message can be spread far and wide and with persistence over a significant period of time.
We’re not just talking about mega-celebrities with millions of Twitter followers, either. The chances are pretty good that you might even have someone living on your block with either tens or hundreds of thousands of followers as well.
The combined network effect of this is enormous.
And if that is not enough, we also have our mainstream media outlets, so many of which we know love to tout their moral superiority these days. Well, now they actually have a chance to strut their stuff and prove it!
Imagine if they ran a daily running crowdfunding tally? Encouraging Americans all day every day to contribute until we reach the goal.
It can happen.
There are many deep-pocketed celebrities, business leaders, and even politicians who I am sure would love to make large contributions for the world to see. In addition to small contributions from every day Americans, we could get to a great total much more easily than it seems.
Whether that total is $14 trillion, or something more or something less I don’t know. That is for others with the knowledge and insight to figure out.
What I do know is, when the goal is reached, we will likely see a celebration in this country the likes of which we have not seen in quite some time, if ever.
Imagine the excitement on the news networks as their daily tally graphics get closer and closer to that goal, the anticipation building, and people inspired to make those contributions to get us over the top.
Joy will abound and lives will be changed for the better, not only for those receiving repayment but also for those who contributed.
To give is to receive, still to this day.
And the overall benefits to society will make this world a much better place for everyone, whether one was a part of it or not. Everyone will enjoy the benefits of this economic justice and blessing, along with the vastly improved relations, healing, and unity something like this will bring.
Now, you may agree with this idea or you may not. The beauty of it is, your participation is not forced, so there is no reason to object if other people want to share some of their money with someone else.
And who knows, this could spark a season of generosity the likes of which we have never seen before, ultimately resulting in the lifting up of untold numbers of people and causes that may never have been reached before. Abundance could reign.
As far as I can see, there is all good and no bad.
What do you think?