Two African Americans, two views on reparations

“There’s not much question that the wealth … [and] the power of this country was built in significant part — not exclusively, maybe not even the majority of it, but a large portion of it — was built on the backs of slaves.”
Barack Obama who says reparations are “justified

“My ancestors were slaves. And my life as a young woman was a mess. Was my life a mess because my ancestors were slaves? I don’t think so. My life was a mess because I lived a wanton, irresponsible existence, defined by promiscuity, petty crimes and scamming the nation’s well-meaning but totally confused welfare system to the greatest extent of my ability. Did I need reparations to turn things around for me? Certainly not. I needed a wake-up call, which, to my great gratitude, I got, from a few church-going black Christians who told me the way I was living was unacceptable. I went to church, took back responsibility for my life and turned my circumstances around. The problem with the idea of reparations is it redirects attention away from exactly where attention is needed: on individuals’ personal responsibility for their own unique lives.

“Compensation for damages is a basic legal principle. It’s about personal responsibility. Individual A sues individual B for damages caused. Exactly what the damages were and exactly how B injured A must be shown in a court of law. Today, only a small fraction of our population has ancestors who were around before 1865 when slavery was legal. The idea of collective guilt, with no specific individual identified as causing the damage and no specific individual showing how he or she was damaged, doesn’t fly. If there is any legitimate claim of collective guilt, it is the guilt of original sin, which we learn in the book of Genesis. Every man and woman is imperfect and responsible for fixing themselves — and, by doing so, helping to fix the world.”
Star Parker is founder and president of Cure, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Cure is a non-profit Policy Institute based in Washington DC that fights poverty to restore dignity through messages of faith, freedom and personal responsibility.

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