Reparations – Why Now? Why Us?

As Unitarian Universalists we are called to “go boldly into our future”. But how can we go boldly into our future when we haven’t yet atoned for or paid for the sins of our past? The United States prospered on the backs of its slaves. It’s time to repay that debt and invite the descendants of slaves to fully participate in this country’s vast riches.

Today’s Community Plate will support the National Association For The Advancement of Colored People, Manchester, NH.  NAACP is an organization of community volunteers who are committed to social and economic justice, who work to address unfair discrimination and to promote community building and cooperation.  The collection today will help NAACP Manchester update its website.


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6 Responses to “Reparations – Why Now? Why Us?

  1. What I don’t like about this argument, one of the many things, is that there were whole towns in New England that still haven’t recovered from the destruction that came to them by fighting in the civil war. Some towns in all of these 6 states lost ALL of their boys and men fighting to end slavery, only to see reconstruction end 10 years later and watch their textile and mill jobs flee south. It was economic destruction of a magnitude seldom seen in America, and these towns still haven’t recovered. They’ve sacrificed enough to make other men free, don’t insult them by asking them to pay reparations.

  2. This was a powerful message today, to hear how our country has systematically worked to keep people of color from advancing in any meaningful way. It occurred to me that some (much?) of the opposition to single-payer health care may come down to the fact that it would place everyone on an even footing in the health care area. Even footing sounds like a very good thing to me, but I can imagine that it might not seem like a good thing to some.

  3. Thank you for taking the time and care to present today’s sermon. The end was a nice tone, acknowledge, do what right. I found it a bit preachy (“you are complicit..”). I find messages more powerful when they come from an invitational frame using “I” statements. Speaking witness to the journey of understanding and action the speaker is coming from. Many of us have labored long for justice and equality. I personally have spent 40 years working in inner city hospitals that serve the poor and underserve (disproportionately black) and improving public sector medicine. I applaud your commitment to speak to the seemingly unspeakable horrors of racial injustice. At the same time, it seems selective–one might estimate that the genocide of North American indigenous peoples might calculate to an even larger debt. And the many other oppressed people here and abroad on which out country built its wealth. So, how might we best understand this? Work for peace, justice and equality. The reparations frame doesn’t work for me because it’s so arbitrary. How far back should we go? To 1600? To 1200? What about the pogroms agains Jews in Spain and Portugal? The Crusades? etc. We have made great progress (see Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now) and still have a lot to do. Complicity and reparations don’t seem a helpful frame to me. Justice, solidarity and working together speak louder to me. Thanks again.

    1. Opposition to single payer healthcare comes down to the fact that free markets, along with freedom to vote our conscience, has delivered more men and women out of poverty than all of the wishful thinking and philanthropy the world has ever seen. Single payer healthcare eliminates the free market, and with it, slows the pace of innovation that has delivered us so much progress in healthcare in the first place. It’s hard to see this when we look forward; that is, as we look out to the future, socialist ideals seem comforting because they have a noble goal and that noble goal clouds out judgment. But when we look backwards, at the history of single payer anything, we see economic turmoil and noble goals that were never achieved, and unintended consequences that cost more lives than were ever saved. I’ll take the unequal outcomes that come from free markets because, much like a free election, even one where my candidate doesn’t win, at least free markets give me a chance to have my voice heard.

  4. That latter is exactly the question i am raising on Sunday. I hope you will come. I would be interested in your reaction.

  5. Should descendants of blacks who owned slaves also pay reparations?
    Should families who weren’t even in America before 1865 be forced to pay reparations?

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