Yesterday was Juneteenth, a commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S., and, coincidentally, the House of Representatives held a hearing to discuss reparations.
During the hearing, there were cheers, boos, outrage, and even a little celebrity finger-wagging.
Yet, for all of the hype, the hearing to advance a bill that would create a commission to study the feasibility of reparations was just a show.
Reparations are infeasible, impractical, and inadequate to solve the problems of poverty, crime, lack of quality education and good health. This push for reparations is more about 2020 politics than really expanding opportunities for blacks.
Reparations are not politically feasible.
Black leaders are looking for an apology for slavery in the form of cash or government-sponsored preferential programs for blacks. However, they can not overcome the challenge of convincing American taxpayers to pay for the sins – as horrible as they are – of generations past.
An April Rasmussen poll found that two thirds (66 percent) of Americans oppose reparations. Just 22 percent surveyed support them.
Reparations are impractical.
There are big questions about who would receive them and how they would be given. As I wrote in the Washington Examiner recently:
Do you just have to identify as black? Then I should qualify, as would Rachel Dolezal, who has no known African ancestry.
If a black person must trace their ancestry to U.S. slavery, are there authentic and reliable records to verify lineage? How do you treat mixed black Americans? How many generations into the future would the United States need to compensate?
Even if the government could determine how many people would receive reparations, it would have to grapple with the price tag and find a funding source.
The price tag could be astronomical at possibly $14 trillion.
Reparations are inadequate
Most concerning, reparations won’t solve the problem. As writer Coleman Hughes noted in his testimony during the hearing:
“Black people don't need another apology, we need safer neighborhoods and better schools, we need a less punitive criminal justice system, we need affordable health care and none of these things can be achieved with reparations for slavery.”
According to 2017 Pew polling, almost half of Americans (49 percent) Americans say blacks are responsible for their situation, not racial discrimination.
Opportunity, not a one-time payout, is the key to economic empowerment for this community that is finally getting on its feet.
Right now, we have the lowest black unemployment rate in recorded history, black women are starting businesses at one of the fastest rates, and criminal justice reforms are giving those with a criminal record a second chance at work and life.
Promoting greater access to skills, education, and training for work opportunities, improving K-12 education, and even financial literacy to help blacks and all Americans better steward their resources should be on the table.
Reparations perpetuate a victim mentality.
Former NFL player Burgess Owens hit it home in his testimony when he said:
"Look at this panel. Doesn’t matter how we think. Doesn’t matter our color. We have become successful in this country like no other because of this great opportunity to live the American dream.
"Let’s not steal that from our kids by telling them they can’t do it."