Reparations: Wypipo’s Questions Finally Answered

Where’s President Robert Redford when you need him?

This past summer during Juneteeth (which is a day that celebrates the emancipation of slaves in America), Congress opened up debate about whether or not America should pay reparations for slavery in this country.

The topic of reparations is so popular, that HBO’s latest hit show Watchmen, actually addresses the issue. The show makes the assumption that in an alternate timeline, we actually do get reparations, thanks to alternate timeline president Robert Redford. In the show, racists refer them negatively as “Redfordations.” (Rod, cohost of the comedy podcast “The Black Guy Who Tips,” made the hilarious joke that the most unbelievable part of the Watchmen—more unrealistic than flying owl ships, raining squids, or giant blue god-men living on Mars—was the idea of America giving black folk reparations.)

Now, to be perfectly honest, I’m not 100% sure where I land on this topic. But I will say this: reading and hearing the discussions about it among those on the conservative white, er, I mean right, I’m more inclined to say, “F**k it! Just pay me now!”

It’s one thing if you have a cogent argument as to why we shouldn’t pay reparations. But some of y’all, and the way you talk about it, show just how ignorant some of you people are.

I recently saw someone post this ridiculous meme:

First, I bet you a million dollars this person isn’t even Chinese. Some moron went online, found the photo of an Asian, then added ignorance.

Second, if you don’t know about the treatment of Asian Americans in this country, it’s not because they haven’t told you. Trust me. They have. To the extent you don’t know about how Chinese were treated during the building of the intercontinental railroad, it’s because of the American education system.

There are LOTS and LOTS of racial injustice transgressions in this country you don’t know about. As the premiere episode of the aforementioned Watchmen TV show illustrated when countless people admitted to be ignorant of the Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921. (And yes, you can count me among the ignorant. How is it that so many people didn’t know what has been called the single worst day of racial violence in American history.)

Last, and most importantly, as it relates to this ridiculous meme, all I can say is “Really?” This person actually believes Chinese immigrants who, out of their own accord, made the CHOICE to work on the railroads over a period of six years, is the same as 200+ years of slavery of a people who were taken against their will, brought over in ships where they lived and slept in their own filth, families broken, women (and men) raped by masters, whipped, put to labor, NOT PAID, and treated like cattle?

The treatment of Chinese immigrants during the building of the railroads was horrendous, and not one to be taken lightly. But that’s a whole different ballgame to ACTUAL slavery.

A meme like this is an insult to those of both Chinese and African descent in this country. It shows that this person really couldn’t care less what happened to the Chinese people, because he obviously haven’t read about it; and it minimizes the real tragedy and scar on this nation that was the African slave trade.

Questions Answered

I keep reading and hearing these people say things like: Who gets paid? Who pays? How far back? How much to pay? Well, I finally have the answers:

  • Who gets paid? Me.
  • Who pays? You.
  • How far back? I’m tempted to say “dawn of time,” but I’ll be quite happy with 400 years, 3 months, 6 days, 7 hours, and 45 minutes.
  • How much to pay? How much you got?

In the meantime, I’m sure Mr. Coates has a much better take on this whole thing than I do. Just read The Case for Reparations then get back at me.

Also published on Medium.

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