Should the United States establish a commission to research effects on African American descendants of slavery and the Jim Crow era?
No! No need.
What the U.S. should do is acknowledge the obvious; keeping millions of people in slavery for over 200 years and in a state of less-than- American status by skin color for another 100 years has been – ipso facto – detrimental to African-origin Americans and United States. Period.
Moreover, intentionally preventing millions of African-origin people from participating in the greatest wealth-creating machine in world history, free American enterprise, has limited productivity and wealth-creation. Example: Mississippi with the most poverty of any U.S. state.
California’s Silicon Valley demonstrates what can happen when Asian, South Asian Indians and myriad other immigrants mix with native-born math geeks to create an entire new world and national, albeit mostly White, wealth. Missing from the Valley is a significant presence of African Americans.
A look at California demonstrates what an “American minority group” can do with free enterprise when not burdened with de facto and de jure skin color discrimination and bias.
Despite whining by a few radical “Chicano-type” Mexicans about discrimination by evil “White” people, Mexican Americans and recent Central American immigrants and their American-born children establish businesses whenever they scrape together 20-extra dollars. Albeit most are one and two person businesses, nonetheless, there are almost a million Hispanic enterprises in California.
California is the number one Hispanic business state with Florida number two, Texas three, Arizona four and New York five. No southern state, except for Florida, rank high because they are labor intensive low wage societies dependent on slaves or minimal wage workers since slaves were introduced in 1619.
Alabama (45th), Mississippi (49th), Arkansas (48th), for example, live with median household incomes of $43,000 to $45,000, while California, where Hispanic businesses sprout like weeds, has a household median income of $71,805.
California enables the Spanish-speaking to earn more than minimum wage, especially when they “want to be their own boss.” The California “pond” has so many more dollars to earn.
At the 23 campus California State University, 40 percent of the system’s 460,000 student body is Hispanic, 90% plus of which is Mexican American. California Community Colleges alone enrolled 1,065,863 Hispanics, 90% plus Mexican Americans in the fall of 2017; more since.
There is no widespread cry baby whines for reparations for treatment of the Mexican American despite many evil things that were promulgated against them by local, state and in some cases the federal government.
To compensate for previous bad behavior by many American Whites against those with slavery/Jim Crow roots, money and education are the key elements, here is a proposal:
By modern means, determine what families, institutions (like Roman Catholic Georgetown University), companies like Citibank benefitted from slavery before 1865 and any that participated, enforced or profited from Jim Crow policies in the Post- Civil War era through the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s.
To be clear, families, institutions, businesses that owned and or managed lands and plantations, traded in slaves, prevented slaves and their descendants from being educated, split families, transported slaves, made judicial decisions that harmed African Americans or passed local and state ordinances that harmed African Americans should be identified and their identities and actions that harmed African Americans should be publicly revealed.
The follow-up step would be to federally fine those identified in punishing amounts of millions of today’s dollars that will be spent on free college tuition for African Americans. Requirement: They must be descended, of course, from slaves. Part of the funds would be dedicated as a capital source for would be business founders.
Emulating California Hispanics/Mexican Americans “to be their own bosses” is the best way to improve one’s future.
How many people would qualify for these benefits? How much money would be required? We don’t know.
What we do know is that under this plan only those descended from people or organizations that benefited from slavery or Jim Crow would pay and people like Barack Obama or General Colin Powell would not benefit because they have no American slave or Jim Crow origins.
Business, education and society, like nature, abhor vacuums. So does America. Compare dynamic California Hispanics to poverty stricken, dirt poor Mississippi African Americans as proof.
Contreras is the author of WHITE ANGLO-SAXON PROTESTANTS (WASPS) & MEXICANS and THE MEXICAN BORDER: IMMIGRATION, WAR AND A TRILLION DOLLARS IN TRADE; he formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times