The past decade has seen a considerable progress of international law in the pursuit of global justice for collective victims of severe historical injustices perpetrated by governing regimes. This move has been fueled by the increasing prominence of democracy and international human rights and the eclipse of sovereignty engendered by globalization. America’s history is entangled in slavery, whose compensation matters have now resurfaced in the early phase of the next presidential campaigns. However, the issue has proven to be polarizing due to the political climate laced with hyper-partisanship, where point scoring is prioritized over genuine governance. Nonetheless, since slaves contributed significantly toward the American economy as their rights were violated, slavery reparation is a moral obligation.
Slaves provided unpaid labor that boosted individual businesses, contributing immensely towards the national economy. Africans were captured and transported to America where they were sold as slaves to work in cotton, sugarcane, and tobacco fields, which became an economic engine of the country due to the amassed profits (National Geographic). For the better part of the seventeenth century, the American colonies operated as agricultural economies, which, due to dwindling number of European slaves, required additional sources of labor. Since slavery was acceptable, Africans were enslaved to offer manual work in the fields. The combination of ideal climate, availability of land, and sufficient laborers saw massive agricultural productivity in the south, stabilizing the regional and national economy. By 1835, the U.S. cotton exports increased from 100,000 bales to over a million bales, proving that slavery drove impressive profits (Mintz). America being one of the strongest economies in the world today, it is clear that slavery made huge contributions, validating reparations efforts.
Despite the economic benefits enjoyed today, African-Americans, the descents of the ex-slaves, still lack the same opportunities of economies compared to the Whites. The inequality is best expressed in the massive wealth gap between Whites and African-Americans: the median wealth of non-retired African-Americans was $13,460 as of 2016 while their Whites counterparts scored $142,180 (Weller). The racial wealth gap is greatly influenced by the Jim Crow Laws and Segregation, which denied Blacks fair services like education and healthcare while limiting economic opportunities and social mobility. Sufficient wealth enables people to navigate economic issues such as unexpected illness, abrupt fall of income, future investment, housing, secure retirement, and education among others. With limited wealth, the descendants of African Americans continue to suffer due to their inability to afford the above basic opportunities.
Although those opposing slavery reparations would argue that it is a sin of the past committed by people who are no longer alive, the country is still enjoying the fruits of slavery, which is disproportionately shared among the descendants of the ex-slaves. Others argue that compensating the descendants of the ex-slaves would plunge the country into an economic crisis due to the high involved amounts. The international law, although not enforced during slavery, condemns historical injustices, thus, justifying slavery reparations. Compensating the descendants of the past slaves would be America’s opportunity to even the odds and deliver justice.
Slavery reparation is America’s moral obligation to the descendants of the ex-slaves. The ex-slaves were captured and forced to work in fields without pay. Their labor boosted the regional and the national economy, which was pivotal in propelling America to its superior economical position today. Despite the economic benefits contributed by slavery, the descendants of the ex-slaves are still disadvantaged economically and socially. Compensating these individuals for the service and unjust treatment endured by their ancestors would help to deliver justice.
Mintz, Steven. “Historical Context: Was Slavery the Engine of American Economic Growth?”. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. n.d. https://www.gilderlehrman.org/content/historical-context-was-slavery-engine-american-economic-growth. 1 Aug. 2019
National Geographic. “How Slavery Helped Build a World Economy”. National Geographic. 3 Jan. 2019. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/01/how-slavery-helped-build-a-world-economy/. 1 Aug. 2019
Weller, Christian. “African-Americans’ Wealth a Fraction That of Whites Due to Systematic Inequality”. Forbes. 14 Feb. 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/christianweller/2019/02/14/african-americans-wealth-a-fraction-that-of-whites-due-to-systematic-inequality/#5e6d52434554. 1 Aug. 2019.