In Ta-Nehisi Coates’ long and thorough case for reparations (including reflections on Bernie Sanders and the current state of liberal politics) he said to read How to Build an Economic Model in Your Spare Time. And I did, but somehow it didn’t help. Probably because economic models exist to describe existing economic trends and not to theorize about what societies owe to their members and how to ensure that those debts are paid in full. Who knew? Well I did; it’s why I’ve never enjoyed an economics class but thought The Wealth of Nations was a surprisingly dynamic read (given that all its best passages have Wikipedia pages). The strange, narrow space between ethical and political philosophy is one of my favorite places to hang out.
But in lieu of trying to translate my thoughts on social responsibility in light of the violently racist history of the United States and how that should translate to economic redistribution, here are some things from which I’d gladly take a cut of the proceeds:
This is pretty self explanatory, right? In short, I think a cut from all new media about O.J. Simpson in the last year would be a great first drop in the reparations bucket.
Oh wait, I might think these are all self explanatory… To say that one of Beyoncé’s first songs explicitly about black empowerment is boring is ridiculous, but to be expected from a white guy who loves Kendrick Lamar.
I want a check every time a white person says woke or bae, and I want interest every time they have to gall to use the words to describe other white people.
Okay, if the proceeds from this actually funded reparations, I’d write in to tell the magazine not to encourage anyone to eat undercooked collard greens. Seriously.
I’m sure I’ll come back to this, but young white people being forced to learn about voter suppression (and other ‘failings’ of the representative two party government within an imperialist power) through personal experiences is kinda funny. It’s when they start calling people lemmings for using the little agency they have that my empathy weakens and I want to be paid for every book, study, and anecdote about the black experience that they didn’t pay attention to.