Originally Posted by kdt26417
Alas, I can't imagine any way any white peoples could make up for the sins of their ancestors. Slavery and all it entails is such a vast and mind-boggling sin, it's just impossible to imagine any restitution that could fix it in the present . . . the onus seems to fall on black folks to forgive white folks even though white folks don't deserve it . . .
ALL white folks? That is one helluva a blanket statement - because someone's skin is white, they don't deserve to be forgiven for their ancestor's crimes? People who live in the present are not responsible for what the past generations did, as long as they don't keep continuing to do harm to others or take actions based on a person's race.
I have participated in discussions about reparation in school and online at a genealogy forum. It's pretty much impossible to make up for the past in a way that would satisfy everyone. For example, the only real way to make reparation to Native Americans is to give them all their land back and let them govern themselves - but how could that be possible? In Australia, I was told they had a ceremony to acknowledge the injustices that had taken place against the indigenous people there, but I'm not sure how much else they did, or could do.
Regarding American blacks, speaking as someone who appears and identifies as white but has mixed-race ancestry, I have researched my Caribbean lineage back to the 17th century, and most genealogists will tell you that many, many, MANY self-identifying white people in America would be very surprised to learn how much African blood runs in their families, and many self-identifying blacks would be surprised at how much Caucasian blood is in theirs. Most of the prominent East Coast merchant families in the early years of the United States had ties to the islands and many interracial liaisons, some secret, some not (it wasn't always the stereotypical Master impregnating his black housemaid - in the Virgin Islands, which was under Denmark's rule for 200 years before the US bought the islands in 1917, there was a large population of Free Blacks who owned property and businesses. An authority of Caribbean genealogy corresponded with me some years back and told me that it was property and money that counted more than race in some instances. For example, a white estate owner in St. Croix or St. Thomas might consider a Free Black who owned a small house and had his own business as a tailor, shoemaker, or blacksmith a better prospect for his daughter to marry than a white field hand who worked for a landowner and owned nothing himself. The Danes, Germans, English, and Scottish who owned property there pretty much freely intermingled with Free Blacks, and the subsequent generations of "mulattos," for those two centuries. My family was there for generations, African and mulatto, marrying and mixing with German, Danish, and English white families.
So through each generation, the skin tone became lighter and lighter until you have someone like me, who is very very fair. My mixed race Caribbean ancestors and their cousins came to NYC in the mid- and late-19th century. My great-grandfather was born here in NYC and had five siblings - allof their birth certiofcates say something different for "Race." Two were "White," another "Black, another "Caribbean Black," another "Mulatto." It is ironic that my German grandfather was quite a racist, but married my nappy-headed supposedly white grandmother. Anyway, my point is this: How do you really determine who is black and who is white, or how much Native American blood someone has (one can only identify as a member of a Native American tribe and receive special benefits from the government if they are within a certain percentile) without DNA testing everyone
And then what is to be done about interracial people? Should they hate the white parts of themselves? As the genealogists would say, how can you make reparation to someone who is descended from both slaves and slave owners?
Originally Posted by kdt26417
Black people already live in America, against their ancestors' (and perhaps their own will), and guess what, American culture has infiltrated them. They could all return to Africa tomorrow, and they wouldn't quite fit in because they've truly become "African American," instead of just "African."
Yeah, they tried that with Liberia in the 1800s, but eventually that was a disaster - terrible civil wars, an overthrow of the government, and now most Liberians live in poverty.
I think the best thing we can do is get to know people who are different from what we are, challenge the stereotypes, recognize our own prejudices, and relate to each other as human beings.