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Old 02-22-2011, 02:04 PM
 
Location: Southeast Missouri
5,812 posts, read 16,226,894 times
Reputation: 3321

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I don't want to start a racial debate, but this is a genealogy forum, so this ties in.

Obviously our country has had terrible human rights abuses in the past. Up until 100 years ago women and minorities could not vote. Before that blacks were enslaved. Native Americans were killed and abused and forced off their land. Even whiter people, such as Irish immigrants or the Japanese during World War II, were mistreated at some point. Some races have been treated poorly probably longer than others, but most groups of people have been persecuted at some point.

Affirmative action is a controversial subject. Some say that is helps minorities and woman to get ahead in an unbalanced world. Others say that it causes an unbalance by giving minorities and women an unfair advantage. I can certainly see the arguments for both sides.

Obviously all we can each do is talk about our own experiences. I am not and will never be another race. Nor will I ever be a man. So my experience as a white woman might be different than others. I may not understand racism if I do not experience it. That said, just from what I have observed, it does seem to me that the world is more balanced today than it was when affirmative action began. Others might disagree with me, and my opinion is based on my own experiences.

Going further than that, I have read that some people have suggested that white descendants of slaveholders (for example) should provide some kind of reparations to the descendants of slaves. This has also been suggested for Native Americans. This is a view that does not seem to be a common one.

While I sympathize with what Blacks and Native Americans went through (and probably still do in some places to some extent), I'm not really sure what good reparations would do. It would probably further divide us. For one, probably many descendants of slaves were also descendants of slaveowners. Same often holds true that Whites often have Native American ancestry, and possibly vise versa. A program like this would be divisive and confusing. Probably few of us are not mixed race at all, especially if you include the way that Chinese, Japanese, and Irish people were treated at different times. Would this really help race relations any?

I could understand wanting justice for people who were abused, but I'm not sure that a person should be treated a certain way because of who their ancestors are. Unfortunately sometimes they still are, though I suppose that crosses racial lines. Even if the reparations came from the government (instead of individuals) and were given to one race or the other, will that really solve anything? It seems to me that it would just cause more resentment.

I could certainly have understood demanding reparations from slaveholders while they were alive to slaves while they were alive. However, a century-plus years later, would reparations do any good? Of course, there are still minorities living today who have experienced extreme prejudice. I think part of that depends on where you live. However, is there any way to make the past right? It seems like all you can do is try to improve for the future. Reparations might just cause more resentment than it heals.

Here's an article about it Black Reparations (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

I really want everybody's input on this. I'm throwing my opinion out there and I would like yours, even if you disagree with me. Obviously not everybody has the same experiences. I'm really just wondering what people think about this.

 
Old 02-22-2011, 02:30 PM
 
11,686 posts, read 13,083,410 times
Reputation: 30973
I don't see how this has anything to do with genealogy. Genealogy is one of the few forums that has been mercifully free from toxic interchanges about race and ethnicity.

This topic really belongs in politics, why not move it there and leave genealogy about genealogy.
 
Old 02-22-2011, 02:38 PM
 
9,209 posts, read 18,049,326 times
Reputation: 21953
Or maybe broaden the topic to "should any of us today be held responsible for the actions or crimes of our ancestors?"

Holding you accountable for a great great great grandfather owning slaves is like holding you accountable if he committed murder or robbery.

Fortunately our society does not hold children accountable for the sins of their fathers.

Many of us who have done family history research have found ancestors we are not particularly proud of: maybe they had slaves, maybe the committed crimes, maybe they abandoned their family or had a second family. It's normal to feel a little shame about that person, but we should only be held to account for our own actions.

I'd say the same about a person who is a despicable human being today, but who has a heroic, well-respected ancestor. I'm not giving that person extra respect because their ancestor saved people's lives, cured a disease, or invented something.
 
Old 02-22-2011, 02:46 PM
 
Location: Southeast Missouri
5,812 posts, read 16,226,894 times
Reputation: 3321
Quote:
Originally Posted by TracySam View Post
Or maybe broaden the topic to "should any of us today be held responsible for the actions or crimes of our ancestors?"
That was kind of my point. I'm not trying to cause any kind of controversy or anything. I was asking about reparations but speaking in a broader sense as well.

Again, not trying to cause any controversy here. But the topic was asking whether descendants should be treated a certain way because of their ancestors.
 
Old 02-22-2011, 02:51 PM
 
9,209 posts, read 18,049,326 times
Reputation: 21953
Well, you can all curse my boyfriend, because his great grandfather invented office cubicles! Seriously, he did. The company has changed names and hands several times since, but they were the first to make "movable office partition walls."
 
Old 02-22-2011, 02:52 PM
 
460 posts, read 826,624 times
Reputation: 622
Quote:
Originally Posted by STLCardsBlues1989 View Post
But the topic was asking whether descendants should be treated a certain way because of their ancestors.
No.

As Otis Campbell once said: Shucks, a man can't take credit just for being born ( http://www.hark.com/clips/vmjcmdvrjm-man-cant-take-credit-just-for-being-born - broken link).
 
Old 02-22-2011, 02:54 PM
 
Location: Southeast Missouri
5,812 posts, read 16,226,894 times
Reputation: 3321
Quote:
Originally Posted by TracySam View Post
Well, you can all curse my boyfriend, because his great grandfather invented office cubicles! Seriously, he did. The company has changed names and hands several times since, but they were the first to make "movable office partition walls."
Haha. That's awesome.
 
Old 02-22-2011, 03:06 PM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
26,094 posts, read 22,785,932 times
Reputation: 119716
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevxu View Post
I don't see how this has anything to do with genealogy. Genealogy is one of the few forums that has been mercifully free from toxic interchanges about race and ethnicity.

This topic really belongs in politics, why not move it there and leave genealogy about genealogy.
I am tired of people misusing the genealogy forum to discuss politics.
 
Old 02-22-2011, 03:12 PM
 
9,209 posts, read 18,049,326 times
Reputation: 21953
Or let's just change it to "have you found any ancestors who did something you're ashamed of?"

I agree that the OP, even though he/she says it's not about something political, the whole initial post is about race & reparations. But I do think that discussing ancestors we're embarrassed by is a valid discussion.

I had an ancestor who was a hired farm worker living with a farming family at the age of 20, and he ended up married to their 14 year old daughter. Her first child was born soon after. Today that would be child molestation.
 
Old 02-22-2011, 03:19 PM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
26,094 posts, read 22,785,932 times
Reputation: 119716
Don't try to weasel a title change to avoid the fact that this thread doesn't belong here.
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