400 Years Of Racism Can No Longer Be Resolved With 40 Acres And A Mule

40 Acres and a Mule: New Interest for Reparations, an Old Idea ...There are several fundamental problems with proposing traditional monetary reparations to former Black slaves and their ancestors. Reparations have traditionally been used for reasonably ascertainable compensation for events of limited time duration, like the First World War, where Germany was compelled to pay reparations. Reparations have also been used as a form of civil and criminal law compensation for reasonably measurable monetary loss. Here the uncontested damage to African Americans has taken place- and continues to take place- over a 400 years period of time, making any traditional calculation of damages to African Americans arbitrary and capricious. More importantly, it would in no way address the underlying and continuing damage this unprecedented wrong has done in the past and continues to do in the present to African Americans.

40 acres and a mule might have worked in 1865, but in 2020, such a solution or its present day prohibitively expensive fair financial equivalent would only be a very expensive band aid on the terminal disease of racism that continues to infect this country, while continuing to disproportionately debilitate African Americans to the unnecessary detriment of all Americans.

Why unnecessary detriment to all Americans? Because a far more effective and less expensive alternative would be if we finally desegrated public education, which should have been done after 1954, when the Supreme Court decided the case of Brown vs. Board of Education. How would this work? Really quite simply:

Presently, the best public schools are in predominantly White neighborhoods that Whites, during the late 1950s and beyond, escaped to in order to avoid the integration of public education that the Brown case mandated...but created no mechanism to implement. Since, to a large extent, public education financing gets most of its money based on assessed property taxes, schools in predominantly White neighborhoods with higher market value housing and property taxes, get more money to spend on local public schools. In addition, it has become common place for Whites to incur a $20-30 thousand a years annual expense to send their children to private schools, leaving LAUSD and districts like it around the country at around 90% Black and Latino students, who for the most part can't afford to send their students elsewhere to private schools.

So the reparations I propose are to spend enough money on quantifiably inferior and yet segregated public schools to make them better than they were in the 1950s. This would require using the reparations money to:

1. Fund preschool- the earlier students are appropriately academically engaged the better they do later on in school and in life;

2. Individually assess each individual student to find out where they are at academically and give them their appropriate subjective level of instruction, base on their actual level and not their age. The earlier this is done, the better the chances for the student to ultimately succeed and not fall hopelessly behind before they ever leave elementary school;

3. End social promotion that mistakenly has continued to move students into higher and higher subsequent grades, when they haven't mastered their present grade level standards- you can't do 9th grade algebra, when you haven't mastered your 3rd grades multiplication tables standard nor can you do a 12th grade government class with a 3rd grade reading ability;

4. Hire enough teachers and assistants to lessen class size to no more than 15 students per class, so that teaching can actually take place in a meaningful manner.

5. Independently audit LAUSD and other dysfunctional innercity school districts like it around the country to make sure the money being spent on public education actually goes to public education and not artificially inflated and unnecessary administrative expenses that do nothing to improve the quality of education. One big step in accomplishing this change would be to make the top of the education salary scale a tenure teacher's salary and not an administrator's. Upward mobility in public education should not be based on getting out of the classroom. And in reality, teachers' job, if done right, is much more difficult than an administrators.

6. Have the parents and teachers and students elect their principal, based on how many students in the school are at grade-level or alternatively are receiving appropriate remediation to bring them up to their highest possible functioning academic level. If they're not, get a new principal.

It is my belief that human greed is stronger than racism. In the past this greed has lead otherwise good and honorable religious people to deprive their fellow Black human beings- Black and Latinos- to their G-d given right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness- through good and comprehensive education.

If public schools have the same or better student to teacher ratio and the same quality of education as some high end expensive private schools, might the "greed" of parents presently scrounging to come up with $20-30 thousand a year for private school, during the present Covid19 pandemic, finally send their kids back to public school, where they will no longer be able to habor racist fantasies about Black and Latino students that they now deal with on a daily basis. Clearly, a prerequisite for continued racism is continued segregation of schools.

While the reparations I propose through desegregating and properly funding and organizing public education are expensive, they are far cheaper than the cost of incarcerating 2.3 million people, which is only how many people were in our prisons in 2017.

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