Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Reparations – A Bad Idea
By Darryl James (Columnist)
Published August 7, 2008

Right about now, some silly Negroes are angry at Senator Barack Obama, because he made it clear that he is not in favor of Reparations.

If he said only that he was against the movement, the resulting anger would almost make sense.

However, since the presidential candidate offered a pragmatic option, the opposing Negroes should go right back to their useless program that will never come to fruition and choke on the lack of progress.

To be clear, I consider the press for reparations to be without motion and a complete waste of time and energy. 

It is no question that America—the evil empire that raped, robbed, sold, used as free labor, beat and killed our ancestors—owes us and should pay.  What is in question is whether the nation ever will. 

The simple answer is “no.”

Noted journalist Tony Brown once said: “I don’t know what white folks owe us, but one thing I do know is that they won’t pay.”

And, since they won’t pay, why not focus on something that we can actually get?

Pushing for reparations takes the focus from the real work needing to be done.

Senator Obama wants to focus on improving schools, health care and the economy, which are the real issues that will positively impact African 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,” said Obama.

Really, what thinking person could argue with that?

And, what is the alternative—a reparations campaign that will never come to fruition?

We never got our forty acres or a mule—why would we get anything else?

If we begin to embrace reality, which is that racism rules everything around us, we will understand that we have nothing coming and perhaps we will then begin to take control of what is already in our hands.

What is in our hands is the ability to focus on repairing the holes in the fabric of our own community.

Perhaps if we demonstrate that we have self-respect, self-determination and that we can create and sustain our own internal economy, the nation would respect us and deal with us with positive results.

But, really, even if America ponied up and sent checks to individuals, what would really change?

That would be nothing.

The individuals who get the checks would use the funds for individual pursuits and remain on the same program they were on before.

If checks went to institutions, we know that those institutions would proceed with infighting to decide who gets to misappropriate the funds in the style of Ben Chavis and the NAACP.

And things will become even worse after the checks are cashed.

First, too many Black folks will get their hopes up, taking emotional stock in a goal that can never materialize.

Second, America’s attitude toward the condition of Blacks will grow stone cold.

Senator Obama realizes all too well the potential for the latter to occur. He made the following statement in 2004, responding to a questionnaire from the NAACP:

“I fear that reparations would be an excuse for some to say: ‘We’ve paid our debt,’ and to avoid the much harder work.”

The much harder work is in trying to improve the worst of us, so that even the best of us become better.

According to Senator Obama, “If we have a program, for example, of universal health care, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because they’re disproportionately uninsured. If we’ve got an agenda that says every child in America should…be able to go to college, regardless of income, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because it’s oftentimes our children who can’t afford to go to college.” 

Notice how Obama referred to “our children,” and not just “children.”

I highlight this piece of language because it is clear that he cares about African Americans and that he identifies with that group.

It is also clear that many of the goofy Negroes in America believe that such concern and identification means that he should follow whatever group of loudmouth Negroes who happen to show up, including the morons who want him to press for reparations.

I’ll say this again for the Negroes who don’t get it: Senator Obama is running for president of the United States, not president of Black people.

What this means is that he must pursue broad issues to improve the lot of as many Americans as possible, which will inadvertently improve the lot of many African Americans.

It also means that he would be a hot ass fool to embrace polarizing issues such as the reparations movement, which will more than likely never materialize.

Even if reparations made sense and even if it were possible to achieve, the push must come from average African American citizens, not from a man who seeks to lead the entire nation.

Not all reparations lobbyists are goofy.

Kibibi Tyehimba, co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America is smart enough to know how politics works.

“Let’s not be naïve,” said Tyehimba. “Senator Obama is running for president of the United States, and so he is in a constant battle to save his political life. In light of the demographics of this country, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect him to do anything other than what he’s done.”

True indeed.

I’ll take my reparations in the form of a nation progressive enough to elect an African American, which will improve our image on the world stage and accordingly improve our standing.

Reparations in the form of payments to individuals or questionable institutions has failed and will continue to fail.

Senator Barack Obama has a better idea, which is to focus on things that impoverished Black Americans can intrinsically benefit from.

Anything else is just a bad idea.

Darryl James  is an award-winning author of the forthcoming powerful anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Discounted Autographed and Numbered Pre-Release copies can be ordered at He released his first mini-movie, “Crack,” and this year, will release his first full-length documentary. View previous installments of this column at Reach James at

Categories: Opinion

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