By Frosty Wooldridge,
Part 1: Slavery, reparations, reasonable choices, can we fix it?
You may be interested in this topic since it encompasses the wrongs of the past versus corrections in the 21st century. Are any corrections fair to an American taxpayer?
First of all, Rome, China, India, Great Britain, Persia, Egypt, America and many other civilizations conducted slavery since the dawn of recorded history. Humans’ bloody history hinged on one tribe conquering another tribe…enslaving them, killing them, torturing them and eradicating them. Much like humans are eradicating the animal and plant life on planet Earth in the 21st century!
It’s been documented that 1,000,000 slaves died in the Roman Coliseum to the delight of 60,000 blood-thirsty Roman countrymen and women—every weekend. Another 3,000,000 animals found death in the 500 plus years of the “Games.” Today, we enjoy 104,000-seat stadiums where one city such as the Kansas City Chiefs conquers another like the Philadelphia Eagles. Today, the “slaves” trying to kill one another in the “arena” get paid millions of dollars to give up their bodies to the football gods. The “fanatics or fans” of the 21st century are no less drunk, no less crazy and no less blood-thirsty than they were in Roman times.
Since slavery has been around for thousands of years, can we go back and pay the ancestors of slaves in China, India, Rome, Persia, Egypt and elsewhere? Since slavery flourished in America until 1865, can we go back and pay African-Americans for the sins of the past?
An infantry colonel U.S. Army West Point graduate, African-American, and I have become friends over the years. He’s traveled the globe. He’s an extraordinary man. He’s an aviator. He’s a problem solver. He and I are trying to sift-out whatever kind of solutions we can muster to find a way to make things “right” for present day African-Americans.
He Said, “Frosty, as you are probably aware, San Francisco is proposing a $5M payout, $97K for 25 years, relief of all personal debt and the ability to buy a home for $1 for all African Americans in the city of San Francisco, who can trace their lineage to slavery. You and I may laugh at this, we may say it’s impossible, but both of us need to wake up and stop this cancerous belief that money can fix racism.”
I replied, “As to reparations, as an educator, I would move from giving money to individuals…which would be fundamentally short-lived on an individual basis, but would not further the collective of African-Americans in America. I would give any and all reparations to provide funding for top grade schools, top high schools, top teachers, top vocational schools, top after-school programs, top food programs and more in every inner-city in America. I would use those billions to build top grade living quarters/apartments/homes for the inner-cities where misery and poverty continue to degrade African-Americans to their lowest levels.
“As to California, correct me if I’m wrong, but it was never a slave state. And, it would be impossible to figure out who was/is eligible and who isn’t. Again, giving money on an individual level…SOLVES NOTHING as to the needs of all of Black America.”
He said, “Personally, I’ve experienced it and I still do. As successful as some might think I am, I’ve been the scapegoat, I’ve been denied promotion and to this day based on my fear of a police stop, I have a permanent camera in my 12-year-old truck that records my speed, location and visually a picture of me and anyone like a policeman who might approached me. That information is fed to the cloud and available for all to see. Bottom line, what has occurred to African Americans has me scared, too, because I am African American and no different, based on race, than Travon Martin or George Floyd.”
I replied, “From both our enormous experiences with race and culture, we’re fighting against biology. But instead of fighting against the natural inclinations of races being incompatible, we are in a racially intermingled society that cannot be changed. At the same time, we CAN work toward mutual respect through educational opportunity, relief from poverty, and minimum wages that are livable wages.
“The harsh reality about slavery and racism is that it has built the Great Wall of China, built the Pyramids, built Troy, built Rome, and many other civilizations, and slavery and racism have been with us from all of recorded history. It’s still going on in many countries. Can we stop it? I doubt it.”
He said, “So, what’s the answer/what’s an answer/what’s an approach?”
He said, “First, the acknowledgement that the historical discussion is true, my ancestors were slaves, they were treated horribly, and some of the things my grandfather, who picked cotton as a free man in Thomasville, GA, could not do, held him back and my mom back, which did not allow them to go to college and get the same treatment as their white counterparts. (My parents worked hard and that’s a story for another day.) So yes, the systemic racism followed my grandfather and likely me, let’s not ignore that. But as you look at the news URLs and my interview, keep track of the simple philosophy and ask yourself, “What problem are we trying to solve? Will giving every person of a race money who can trace their lineage to slavery, fix racism, or even racism against blacks? It doesn’t matter if it’s $5M or $5,000, there is no linkage to a solution.”
I said, “When it comes to racial progress, America is out front with laws, education and understanding. We’re in a tepid tolerance of each other. In the end, most people of one race/culture/language would rather be around others of the same race/culture/language. That’s biology and there’s no escaping it or educating ourselves out of it. It’s in our DNA from millions of years of evolution.”
He said, “America has made a lot of progress in the area of race relations. Some think because we elected a black president twice, everything is fine, that’s not even close to being true. What is true, however, is we are America! What is true is most of us want to move forward. What is true is we are better together. What is true is if any nation can work to get it right, it’s us, together. What I’m professing is the way ahead is to look ahead and learn from the past, not go back to the past. I also believe that America, regardless of who is in charge, democrat or republican is not as bad as people think.”
He ended with, “My view is monetary reparations are not the solution to the problem of racism toward African Americans, nor should they be a way to settle previous documented racism of our ancestors. I’m not even going to get into the principle of how we would pay because once you go down that slippery slope of saying we can’t afford it, what you are really saying is, “If we had the money, we would do it.” My belief is it’s not about money although both liberal and conservative outlets are playing the money tune; it’s really about principle. We are a nation that can find money if it’s the right thing to do. This is not the right thing to do. If money would fix the sins of slavery and put black people in an environment where no racism existed, we should do it. I think you and I know, money in the bank will not make you like me, any more or any less.”
What question and/or solutions would you add to this discussion?
Our discussion continues in Part 2: What’s really going on? How do we steer toward a viable future for black and white Americans?
Frosty Wooldridge is a population-immigration-environmental specialist, a speaker at colleges, civic clubs, high schools and conferences, and a six continent world bicycle traveler, speaker/writer/adventurer.