I know the chances of the US actually having a serious conversation about reparations are slim to none. I know it’s not likely that there will ever be a serious national conversation about the history of white supremacy in the US.
To have that serious conversation means facing the fact that the US is inherently flawed and was built by flawed people. To have that conversation means addressing the fact that Black poverty and white poverty are not the same. To have that conversation means throwing the “I don’t own slaves” and “my family never owned slaves” deflection out the window. To have that conversation means addressing the fact that even if all white people “aren’t like that”, the system is and that’s what matters.
It means addressing the fact that, as much as we want to believe we have, the truth is we haven’t made that much progress. It means addressing that racism isn’t a “south only” problem, it wasn’t solved by the Civil Rights Movement, and it wasn’t solved by a Black president. It means addressing the fact that respectability politics isn’t a help but a hindrance. It means acknowledging that adhering to respectability politics is what made some Black people prime targets for white supremacists.
Having a serious conversation about reparations would mean addressing the fact that liberals and progressives are just as responsible for the white supremacist society that we live in as the poor (and not-so-poor), uneducated (and educated), rural (and city dwelling) conservatives they love to mock. White liberals love placing themselves on the “I’m so much better than that” pedestal. Are they really that much better? I think not.
A serious reparations conversation would hurt. It wouldn’t be pretty and no one’s feelings would be spared. It would also take a lot of time, possibly decades. Ask yourself, do you really think the US is ready for that conversation? In my honest opinion, I don’t think we’re anywhere near ready for it. This country isn’t ready to look at itself in the mirror.
While I don’t believe there will ever be a “perfect” time to discuss it, I also don’t believe this particular discussion will happen in earnest any time soon. The resistance to it, from both the left and the right, from white people and Black people, is just too strong right now. Try as we might, the conversation we need to have won’t happen for a long while.