By Susan Graham, President, Project RACE


Now that Junteenth has been celebrated, it has again raised the question of reparations for Black people. I am not convinced that reparations are a good thing for anyone, but a case can be made for adding Multiracial individuals to the list of people who are supposed to qualify as Black. I say if Black people can get the estimated over a million dollars in reparation money or better housing dollars, for example, Multiracial people have a right to be included.

But I am very confused. The National African-American Reparations Commission (NAARC) has issued a very interesting statement. They say, “Vice-President Kamala Harris and President Barack Obama would not be eligible for any form of reparations!”  They are both Multiracial. Then they write “All Black people who were harmed by America in America, should be repaired by America in America!” Which is it? During the years of slavery in America, most Multiracial people were classified as Black or Mulatto, so they should receive reparations. But politically, the Black community has tried to mostly drive Multiracial people to identify as Black for their numbers. Our government has only recently even acknowledged that Multiracial people exist and are defined as being of two or more races. During slavery it was different and the term Multiracial did not exist. However, the Black community cannot have it both ways! I, for one, am tired of having to fight for our true identities and proving we are Multiracial. It has to stop.

There is plenty of evidence that what was then termed “mulatto” during slavery, which followed the “one-drop” rule was alive and well and used frequently. Many, many slaves were mulatto. There is proof that mulatto slave women were raped by white slaveowners and sent back to the fields. They were very real and deserve to be a part of reparations today.

The times are changing. Race and ethnicity programs are being overwritten by Black programs on one hand and done away with on the other hand. Diversity programs are disappearing. Companies are watering down their diversity recruiting initiatives. Black Barbie has made her public debut. It’s time for America to become more diverse, although in some areas, she doesn’t realize it and is moving backwards. It’s confusing.

Black adults who say descendants of enslaved people should be repaid were asked how helpful the following forms of repayment would be: educational scholarships, financial assistance for starting or improving a business, financial assistance for buying or remodeling a home, and cash payments. Black Americans commonly refer to this measure as “40 acres and mule,” and it has become a long-standing symbol for both the promise of and pessimism about repayment for slavery, or reparations.

Reparations will take some time to roll out. We can wait. We have waited decades to be recognized by our government, and we can also wait for reparations to be fully debated and what will no doubt result in high tension arguments. They have already started in California and other states.

Not all Black Americans are certain whether their ancestors were enslaved, and some indicate their ancestors were not enslaved at all. About one-third (34%) say they are unsure if their ancestors were enslaved, while 8% say their ancestors were not enslaved. This will take a long time to sort out and the total of people who suffered under slavery has started. Count us in.