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Old 06-19-2009, 07:50 PM   #1
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Reparations

An interesting study by a white scholar at the Ohio State University.



COLUMBUS, Ohio – How much do white Americans think it “costs” to be black in our society, given the problems associated with racial bias and prejudice?

The answer, it appears, is not much.
When white Americans were asked to imagine how much they would have to be paid to live the rest of their lives as a black person, most requested relatively low amounts, generally less than $10,000.



In contrast, study participants said they would have to be paid about $1 million to give up television for the rest of their lives.

The results suggest most white Americans don't truly comprehend the persisting racial disparities in our country, said co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology“The costs of being black in our society are very well documented,” Mazzocco said. “Blacks have significantly lower income and wealth, higher levels of poverty, and even shorter life spans, among many other disparities, compared to whites.”

For example, white households average about $150,000 more wealth than the typical black family. Overall, total wealth for white families is about five times greater than that of black families, a gap that has persisted for years.

“When whites say they would need $1 million to give up TV, but less than $10,000 to become black, that suggests they don't really understand the extent to which African Americans, as a group, are disadvantaged,” Mazzocco said.

These results also offer insight as to why more than 9 out of 10 white Americans reject proposals to give reparations to the descendants of slaves, said study co-author Mahzarin Banaji the Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at

“Our data suggest that such resistance is not because white Americans are mean and uncaring, morally bankrupt, or ethically flawed,” Banaji said.
“White Americans suffer from a glaring ignorance about what it means to live as a black American.”

The study appears in the current issue of Harvard's Du Bois Review

The researchers did a series of studies in which a total of 958 whites of different ages and from different parts of the country were asked variations of the same question: “How much should you be paid to continue to live the rest of your life as a black person?”

In most cases, the participants were told to imagine they were actually black, but had always passed for white. The imagined race change required no physical transformation, just a change in public status.

They were also asked how much they should be paid for giving up television, and how much they should be given to change their officially listed state residency (without having to move). These questions were asked, Mazzocco said, to compare what people requested for relatively trivial changes, like a new listed state residency, as compared to a more life-changing request, like giving up television.
Results suggest white people considered a race change as relatively trivial, along the lines of a change in official state residency, as opposed to the seemingly big sacrifice of giving up television.

In some of the studies, the researchers changed the scenario in order to learn more about what white Americans thought about the costs of racial disparities.

One issue with the previous scenario is that participants may minimize the disparities they would face as a black person, because they had always passed as white. So in one study, whites were told to imagine that they were about to be born as a random white person in America, but they were being offered a cash gift to be born as a random black person. Once again, white participants requested relatively small sums to make a life-long race-change. In addition, some were given a list of some of the costs of being black in America, such as the racial wealth disparity. The result was that whites in this latter scenario requested significantly higher amounts than those in the previous studies – about $500,000.

Finally, some participants were given a similar scenario except all references to blacks, whites and America were taken out. They were asked to imagine they were born into the fictional country of Atria, and were born either into the “majority” or “minority” population. They were given a list of the disadvantages that the minority population faced in Atria (which were identical to the real disadvantages faced by blacks in America). In this case, white participants in the study said they should be paid an average of $1 million to be born as a minority member in Atria.
“When you take it out of the black-white context, white Americans seem to fully appreciate the costs associated with the kinds of disparities that African Americans actually face in the United States,” Mazzocco said. “In this case, they asked for a million dollars, similar to what they want for giving up television.”


Mazzocco said blatant prejudice was not the reason for the findings. Results showed that whites who scored higher on a measure of racial prejudice did not answer significantly differently than others in the study.
The researchers are conducting new studies to examine more closely why whites do underestimate the costs of being black. Mazzocco believes many white Americans have a perception that race bias in the United States has been virtually eliminated, and that blacks are no longer disadvantaged.

“While there has been progress in making racial conditions in American more equal, there's clearly a lot more work to be done,” he said. “Blacks and whites are not experiencing the same America.”
When whites do understand the extent of racial disparities in the United States, they are more likely to support reparations. The findings showed that whites who wanted more money to be publicly recognized as black – suggesting they understood the true costs of racial disparity – were more likely than others to say they would support reparations.

But there are many reasons why nearly all whites oppose reparations. Mazzocco said some whites may believe slavery happened so long ago that slave descendants today don't deserve to be compensated. The researchers examined the “too long ago” rationale in another study.
The researchers asked participants to imagine that their great, great grandfather, a wealthy shipping magnate, had been kidnapped about 150 years ago. The kidnappers demanded and received a large ransom that bankrupted the shipping magnate. That ransom was used to start a successful company that still survives today and is worth $100 million. Participants were asked whether they would be willing to be a part of a large suit against the present-day company that could net them each about $5,000.

In this scenario, 61 percent agreed to have their names listed on the lawsuit. The researchers noted that this is about the percentage of blacks today who support reparations for slave descendants.

“When white Americans find it within themselves to say ‘I must be compensated for a past injustice done to me' but the same logic evaporates when the injustice concerns black Americans, they are staring straight at bias,” Banaji said.

Mazzocco said the results of this research have implications for the fledgling reparations movement in America. “Surveys show that 90 to 96 percent of white Americans are against slave descendant reparations. It is nearly impossible to get that many people to agree on anything, so it is an issue that really deserves attention to see why that is. We wanted to take a heated and emotional issue and look at it through a scientific lens,” he said.


The research was facilitated by a postdoctoral fellowship to Mazzocco from Ohio State's Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
Other co-authors of the study included Timothy Brock of Ohio State, Gregory Brock of Georgia Southern University and Kristina Olson of Harvard.
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:10 PM   #2
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This is an enormously interesting article. Thanks for posting it!

Do you have a link to the article itself, so we can bookmark it?
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:27 PM   #3
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This is an enormously interesting article. Thanks for posting it!

Do you have a link to the article itself, so we can bookmark it?

http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/blckcost.htm
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Old 06-20-2009, 12:56 AM   #4
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I wouldn't say that black stimulus checks should be handed out but conservative estimates place the value of lost wages between slavery and the end of Jim Crow at anywhere from 1.9 to 24 TRILLION dollars when adjusted for inflation. That is a lot of money and sweeping past wrongs under the carpet because it's uncomfortable to talk about is the kind of practice that makes our nation weak at the core. Strength comes from confronting problems and not marginalizing them.

The idea that "my ancestors were poor and didn't arrive until after the Civil War" neglects to include the part about why those people came to America in the first place...the U.S. was a powerful nation with a middle and an elite class of northern merchants and southern planters alike who benefitted because of the raw materials produced from eastern Texas to eastern Florida up through Virginia...cotton, rice, indigo, sugarcane and tobacco...the profits of these goods fueled the young republic's ability to fight and win independence from the British Empire and to embark on a sustained period of industrial economic growth that propelled the nation toward remarkable heights...and in turn gave struggling and UNEDUCATED farmers and laborers in Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Poland and other Euro nations the impetus to go where the "grass was greener"...a place where that proverbial lawn was manicured by it's own personal African gardners.
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Old 06-20-2009, 05:13 AM   #5
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I don't know if you saw Chris Matthew's show today where Congress officially apologies for Slavery but of course omitted any mention of Reparations and Chris' comment is a TYPICAL one -

"Who's should be made responsible?"

"What if your family didn't own slaves or aren't original born here"

We are all collectively are Americans we should ALL pay for it. Everybody has benefited from the "Free Labor" put in to say build the White House.... C'mon there are links to current day businesses that were directly involved in Jim Crow practices, maybe THEY should pay?

Slavery is collectively our legacy we should come to TERMS with it....
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:37 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by dj4monie View Post
I don't know if you saw Chris Matthew's show today where Congress officially apologies for Slavery but of course omitted any mention of Reparations and Chris' comment is a TYPICAL one -

"Who's should be made responsible?"

"What if your family didn't own slaves or aren't original born here"

We are all collectively are Americans we should ALL pay for it. Everybody has benefited from the "Free Labor" put in to say build the White House.... C'mon there are links to current day businesses that were directly involved in Jim Crow practices, maybe THEY should pay?

Slavery is collectively our legacy we should come to TERMS with it....

Co-sign!

LOL...I actually was watching Chris Matthews when he was interviewing James Clyburn and some other guy.

I like a lot of what Matthews says but his response to the white guy from Tennessee he was questioning was typical of many northern whites. They believe they were "the good guys" and that slavery had no impact on them. In fact it did...how else could northern factories filled with Irish workers survive without the raw goods being produced by slaves in the south? Slavery was not the cause of the Civil War (states' rights and a whole host of other issues were involved).

The northerners that were forced to fight under the banner of the Union cared no more about blacks than did the gray coats of the Confederacy....this is evidenced by the ethnic violence in places like New York just after the War. If the Union could have been preserved without ending slavery...there's at least a 50/50 chance it would have continued for some time after 1865.
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Old 06-20-2009, 11:11 AM   #7
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I'm sorry, I must disagree with you there.

My ancestors fought for the Union army. One of them was held in a Confederate prison camp, and returned home mute. He'd been gone so long his own dog didn't recognize him, and attacked him after he finally approached the house after walking miles and miles from the train station a couple towns away.

I know this about him, and know stories of the others, because my family kept their letters and diaries. There is no doubt whatsoever what they thought they were fighting for.

My family's story is not atypical. Yes there were Northern racists, but that does not describe the North as a whole.

There's the lyrics to the song:

As He died to make men holy,
let us die to make men free,


This song was originally sung by Union soldiers marching off to war.

I have been to so many tiny small towns in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin where the memory of the Civil War has been clung to as tightly as in any Southern Confederate town. Their stories are like my family's stories: hardworking farmers who left their families and went off to end slavery.

Yes there were Northerners who were as racist and as uninterested in ending slavery as the Southerners, but the number of these families has been exaggerated by the revisionist history of Southerners looking for an ethical out for their own family histories. "That was how everyone felt at the time." "The North was no better." "Everyone was equally guilty." That kind of talk lets the slaveowners and those that supported them right off the hook. They weren't really horrible, they were just conformist. Right? No. Wrong. In every stage of history, at every point in time where man has done man a horrible injustice, there have always been dissenters. People who knew right from wrong and stood up for right.

A huge chunk of those people fought for the Union Army.

There was an article just a few years back -- they've started to fix the history written at many of the landmarks of the civil war. I say fix because the history written on many of the plaques has been watered down or "spun" to protect the sensibilities of Southern visitors. This is the balderdash we've been taught, and it does not at all match the truth.

Failing to provide reparations to the families of slaves dishonors not only my husband's family, but mine as well. I have no doubt what my great great great grandfathers would want.
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Old 06-20-2009, 11:13 AM   #8
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If the Union could have been preserved without ending slavery
The problem with that phrase is that the threat to the Union was slavery.

The South's whole problem with being in the Union was their fear that slavery would be outlawed if Lincoln was elected. That's why they fired on the US military. That's why they started the Civil War.
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Old 06-20-2009, 11:42 AM   #9
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I doubt there will be any reparations for Blacks. In my opinion the reparations will be sent to the Blacks born between 1865 and 1965, the year the Civil Rights Bill was passed. The Japanese-Americans did not get much in reparations from the time they were interned from 1942 to 1945 and they owned millions of dollars of property that was seized by the government. In this financial climate the talk for reparations is a dumb idea.
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Old 06-20-2009, 12:49 PM   #10
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The problem with that phrase is that the threat to the Union was slavery.

The South's whole problem with being in the Union was their fear that slavery would be outlawed if Lincoln was elected. That's why they fired on the US military. That's why they started the Civil War.
I understand that realistically it could not have been preserved...but if it COULD have been...

Obviously it would have ended eventually as the idea of making 1/2 of all new states "slave" states was cumbersome to people like Lincoln. I think Lincoln made some tough choices but I also believe that keeping the Union intact was his goal and that ending slavery was the means to that end...not the other way around.

Me likes the convo!
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