Unfortunately, slavery has been a dark part of our history, many countries adopted policies that allowed their citizens to hold slaves. And even if most of them have abolished slavery, in several countries slaves still exists, their number reaching up to 27 million people. In addition, slavery still exists in forms of illegal actions such as human trafficking. However, since slavery was eliminated as a legal institution, the idea of reparations for slavery has appeared. These reparations involve some sort of payment that should be made to people who are descendants of enslaved people.
$777 thousand billion demanded as reparations
One of the most important things that has been done in the direction of reparations for slavery was the demand issued by the African World Reparations and Repatriation Truth Commission in 1999, according to which, countries from the Western Europe and Americas were demanded to pay $777 thousand billion within five years.
A debatable idea in the US
Even after the idea of reparations for slavery has been established, it is still debatable, mostly in the United States. The US has been the country that mostly exploited the free workforce provided by slaves and reparations for slavery remains a highly complicated issue with no reasonable solution so far.
Arguments in favor of reparations
Therefore, the question—should be reparations paid for slavery? — is one with many arguments in favor and against it. One of the main arguments in favor is that due to slavery, many descendants from families of slaves live below the poverty line; because their ancestors could not provide finances or education for themselves or for their kids. Another argument that supports the idea of reparations is that other nations or minorities received payments for being discriminated against in the past.
At the same time, many people do not support the idea of reparations. Their main argument is that there are people who live below the poverty line in “non-slave” families, and the government should invest in reducing this number, without paying attention to their roots. In addition, paying reparations for slavery for descendants of slaves, in a way, will promote racism and differentiation. Since, slavery has been abolished in the US for more than a hundred years, it is time to let it go and focus on the important issues of the modern society.
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Black History Month
Several countries that were exploiting slaves in the past have made some steps to commemorate those who have been discriminated due to slavery. One of the main events of the year is the Black History Month celebrated in February in the US and Canada and in October in the UK.
The Black History Month was set in order to commemorate the important people and events in the history of the African diaspora in different countries. Even though it does not mean that countries that celebrate it acknowledge that slavery was an illegality, it is a start. Although, there are people against this event, and some of them are even representatives of the diaspora. They contend that the existence of the Black History Month creates a differentiation between nations and their cultures, despite the fact that these nations have been sharing the same history for a long time.
An important issue of the 21st century
In conclusion, paying reparations for slavery is an important issue that will not be solved in the short run. Even though some steps have been made in this direction, they all seem to be superficial and the debates are still ongoing. After all, if compensations are still paid for Holocaust, why should not reparations for slavery be paid, taking into consideration that it is a part of history with negative consequences for many nations.
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By Norvan Martin