The Reparations for Slavery in the United States


The issues on slavery in the United States began after Virginia was settled by the English and lasted until the establishment of the thirteenth amendment on the constitution of the United States. The African Americans were the ones affected in the free- labor where the white Americans benefited and attained their wealth.

The slavery among the black Americans has ended but still, the issues continue to arise and dispute about reparations remains to be controversial. Slavery is said to be a common expression of racism among Americans and unfortunately, it is the one viewed as the main reason why the blacks in the US are treated unfairly. The influences from the scenarios that happened in the past brought sufferings to a lot of people right now and are predicted that racism would continue to arise even in the 20th century.

Slavery is seen as one of the reasons why many blacks are separated from whites today though it is not blatantly expressed in society still it can be depicted in other areas such as in employment (Rodriguez, 2007). It is unavoidable to encounter such people who consider blacks as mere slaves only. However, some scholars said that slavery could be a reason why the never-ending homelessness, youth violence, and single-parent households occur in society.

It is also an issue that the African American people were stereotyped as people who were self-contempt, self-hatred, self-afflicted, and self-flagellated. Racism prevails in the debates about slavery because this discussion shows the world the evidence of what white people did to the blacks. Ironically, it is not a good idea to determine black people as slaves only and white as the slave-owners just because of race discrimination (Van Deburg, 1984).

Today, the world is saying that racism or the issue of slavery does not occur anymore because every people have their freedom and rights which they may enjoy for their welfare. But some black activists are appealing to the Courts or maybe in Congress to get the payback from the whites to the African American reparations; this is for the black people to have an equal position as the whites have in the society.

Even though the whites are saying that they are now paying for it in the form of affirmative action, welfare, and other kinds of transfer payments, a black economist argues that those are not enough and more money is needed to be able to get back the lost capital and have the damages repaired for the businesses that they had during the long years of slavery and imparity.

Furthermore, slavery is also one factor to consider why the Black Americans lost their own culture and adopt the new ideas from the whites. But actually, the African Americans gained a new culture in that adaptation from the whites but they indeed lost their ancestral tribal affiliations. But despite being slaves, it is undeniably seen that the African Americans learned some traits which constitute civilization for their identity.

An example of that is being close to each other even though they are not related by blood; they adopted the trait of calling each other “brother” or “sister” as a sign of humanity. Another thing is that, after slavery, the black Americans learned to protect themselves and distinguish their strengths and weaknesses for them to respond to the abusive form of slavery from the whites (Rawick, 1972).


Many people are arguing whether African Americans should receive this reparation from the whites or not. There have been a lot of good and bad critics about this certain issue. Another question bugging in the minds of the concerned people is that to what extent should African-Americans receive reparations for the effects of slavery if in case they would be given the chance of this kind of payback?

The reparations for slavery is a proposal in the United States by some people which says that there should be just compensation for the descendants of those who were enslaved to recognize the free labor which they have provided before. It is further said that the Americans will not get their wealth and global power without the help of the black slaves whom the whites discriminated against before. The compensation mentioned in the proposal suggested having different kinds of payments from community-based developments related up to health and education issues. But these ideas were still highly divisive and in the deciding time of how it is going to be implemented.

A conservative author, David Horowitz, who wrote the article about the Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks – and Racist Too, pointed out his ideas and opinion about the disadvantages of reparations and why the Americans do not owe anything from the blacks. The first one is that because there is no particular group that may hold the responsibilities for the slavery that happened before.

Horowitz said that the black Americans should also be held liable in this issue because they were slave owners too. The second one is that there is no certain group who got all the benefits from the slavery of the black Americans. The black Americans were claiming that the whites solely got their wealth from them but come to think of it if the slave-owners became rich, didn’t they think that the slaves got wealth too? The Gross National Product of black America made their community the 10th most prosperous nation in the world and they enjoy more than their own country which is Africa from where they originally belong.

The third one is that a small number of white Americans only owned slaves and other white Americans gave up their lives to set the slaves free. The next one is that America today is a multi-ethnic nation and almost all Americans do not have connections on the direct and indirect forms of slavery. The fifth reason which Horowitz enumerated is about the Historical precedents that are used to give justifications on the claims of reparations that do not apply, he said that it is based on the race and not on the damages it had created (Horowitz, 2001).

The other five reasons also comprise the arguments about the reparations which according to David Horowitz should not be given to the black Americans during the period of slavery because the African Americans also benefited from the slave owners. The black Americans were not discriminated against in this issue because there has been no distinction between the roles of the black Americans during that period since there were black Americans who acted also as slave-owners. Also, Horowitz pointed out that giving reparations to black Americans is a form of discrimination among blacks because reparations may be a kind of help given to the victims of a certain instance.

And the blacks are not mere victims in this situation. The reparations were already given to the blacks as the whites have provided welfare for them in the form of employment, educational assistance, and rewriting the American law considering their race and giving importance to them to avoid racism issues. Another reason is considering the debts that the blacks owe to the white Americans. It has been known that some whites gave up their life for the freedom of the blacks and saved them from being slaves indeed, so Horowitz claimed that it is just not to give extra reparations for the effects of slavery (Horowitz, 2001).

Thus, it is extremely obvious that the view of Horowitz on the reparations for slavery does not have to take into account. The answer to the question earlier as to what extent should the whites pay the blacks is answered. The blacks have already gotten their pay and now it appears to be fair in the sense of treatment among whites and blacks. The whites have provided the reparations suited for the blacks even before. The equal treatment for the blacks nowadays is enough because they are enjoying the things which a white American is enjoying too. The blacks benefit from the country and got a lot of opportunities as well.


It may seem very biased on the side of the blacks to enumerate each reason why they should not get any more reparations from the whites. This may mean racism or discrimination for the blacks and feel the big gap between them and the whites. Indeed, the blacks got a point on pleading for reparations because they were greatly affected before not only in the sense of the loss of their ancestral tribal affiliations but also it is like losing their own identity as black Americans since they have adopted the new world of the people they have been acquainted. Understandably, the blacks may feel anger and imparity.

The slavery among black Americans has ended though and the white Americans were the ones considered as the promoters of the campaign against discrimination and racism. But still, it is considered slavery as a crime in the sense of morality. However, Americans should not be considered heroes or villains in this issue. The issue of racism and discrimination should vanish in this era because in the world today, blacks are now given equal opportunities to white ones. Some educators said that the blacks should be thankful to be in a country that has the civilization of being free from its power (Berlin, 1982).

Slavery indeed is a crime of morality but the African Americans’ slavery issue should be considered as a way of adopting a progressive culture that will lead them to a better condition. Racism has not been an issue if people would keenly observe the situation because the fellow blacks of the African American race have been slave-owners so the whites should not get the entire blame and responsibilities for the reparations. Anyway, the African-American citizens of America appear to be the richest and most fortunate black people living. There are no hesitations that the white Americans need the support of their fellow African- American citizens and vice versa to achieve the welfare for the whole country.


Berlin, Ira, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowlands, eds. Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867 5 vol Cambridge University Press, 1982.

Horowitz, David. Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks – and Racist Too. FrontPageMagazine. 2001. Web.

Rawick, George P., ed. The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography. 19 vols. Greenwood Publishing Company, 1972.

Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2007.

Van Deburg, William. Slavery and Race in American Popular Culture. Madsion: U of Wisconsin P, 1984.