OP-ED: A York City resident on reparations, racism

Don Hake
York City
A U.S. Park Service employee sweeps up after the U.S. military conducted a Presidential Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony in celebration of the 207th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Affirmative action dictates quotas based on race. It applies to several different activities from education to employment. It was necessary and relatively successful in its intent of advancing the status of minorities at the time it was instituted. But, because it is race centered, it needs to be retired.

In a perfect world it would not be needed. Unfortunately, we do not reside in a perfect world. Minorities have just cause for anger and resentment for having been denied the opportunities afforded the majority race.

However, two wrongs do not make a right. Any time race is used as a judgement criteria there will be anger and resentment by the excluded race. We must move past using race as a judgement criteria and replace the criteria with competence and character.

More:‘Why not now?’ for slavery reparations, House panel is told

It would be foolish to ignore the existence of slavery and its devastating impact on the lives of its victims. That impact is still being felt today in no small measure by the racial prejudices and practices that are still present.

Although laws have been enacted and rulings have been made, the cancerous underpinning of slavery haunts the minority community. Culture, mentoring and self- esteem have been stolen.

Because of the lingering racism and its tangible manifestations, reparations are clearly justified. But the devil is in the details. Who pays and who receives? And what form should the payments take?

My great-great-grandfather fought for the Union in the battle of Gettysburg. Should I be penalized, or should I be a beneficiary? Sounds Silly? But everyone’s perspective should be considered.

Regarding reparations, I have some “thinking outside the box” ideas. They are designed to start the ball rolling. Since what was taken should be returned, I would focus on self-esteem, culture, education and self- sufficiency.

  • A domestic “foreign exchange program,” where family members are exchanged and live with the exchange partner’s family. The greater the disparity in income and living conditions the better. This is true for both the haves and the have nots of the exchange partners.
  • Enhanced education and job training. The training should be applied across the board, from very early childhood to post high school and treat all levels of training from blue collar to advanced academic and professional skills. This cannot be to the detriment of the privileged classes but should be directed to the minorities who have been damaged by the system. I firmly believe in the old adage: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
  • Mentorship is critical and especially lacking in minority homes that have been more severely impacted by the legacy of slavery and its later racist discrimination. Mentors should be proactive in finding those persons so impacted. This activity must be extensive and well administered.

These are some suggestions by me. To the privileged class, I ask that you put your thinking caps on and let’s return to those who have suffered, what was taken from them.