By Tai-Rece Basey
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY – As part of Black History Month, LU political science professor Dr. Darius Watson presented “Debating Reparations” in Page Library. The presentation opened with the history behind the idea of “40 acres and a mule,” explaining the events that occurred up to present day.
The professor explained that the “40 acres and a mule” concept was presented by Gen. William T. Sherman after the Civil War. Watson argued that lack of legal representation, more specifically government approval, is one of the reasons why the idea lasted a short 24 months.
Today, the discussion of reparations is still the subject of debate. The lecture dissected the causes, reasons, and challenges of reparations. The effects of slavery, such as racism, colorism, and the inequality of the justice system, have kept reparations relevant. Watson encouraged attendees to debate the potential solutions for the ongoing issue.
Many professors and students voiced strong opinions on the subject and referred to past paid reparations to Japanese-Americans and Native Americans. While Watson agreed with repayment for black suffering, his exhibition explained why it’s not logically possible.
Financially, the total repayment of reparations would be extremely difficult to execute, as he noted it would cost about $15 trillion. He also explained the difficulty in determining “who” gets “what.” Many suggested investing money into predominantly black areas, but then there was the argument of the inclusion of blacks not inhabiting those areas.
Every component of reparations is complex, he said, so attempting the process 155 years later will only complicate things. This is a significant part of black history, he said, and it has carried into present day.