Slavery reparations have long been a controversial idea in the United States, particularly among whites who are several generations removed from their slave-owning ancestors.
African Americans, on the other hand, have shown a tendency throughout the 20th century to believe they are necessary.
While whites and blacks are still very much divided along those lines and Hispanics are somewhat neutral, slavery reparations may one day become a reality if millennials have anything to do with it.
This news comes via a new poll from Exclusive Point Taken-Marist, reported here by Yahoo TV, that shows over half of the generation reaching young adulthood around the year 2000 would “at least consider” it.
Americans 69 and older were the most against the idea of paying slavery reparations. The breakdown there was 80 percent against and 12 percent for. Baby boomers (ages 51-69) agreed with 79 percent against compared to 17 percent for.
Generation X (ages 35-50) were also pretty strongly against, at 73 percent to 25 percent.
With Millennials, however, it was a drastically different story. Fifty-one percent were either for slavery reparations or unsure but would consider. And of that 51, 40 percent were in favor so it would just take convincing of the 11 percent to recommend it.
— Benjamin YoungSavage (@benjancewicz) May 12, 2016
Overall, the numbers were against the idea with 68 percent saying no, so it likely isn’t going to happen anytime soon. That said, as those in the millennial generation become the future leaders of America, the balance could one day shift.
Trends are certainly on the side of it anyway.
Even among the groups that vehemently opposed slavery reparations, the total amount in favor dropped with each passing generation.
That means the generation after the millennials — Generation Z as they are currently known — will likely be even more strongly in favor of the idea.
Internationally, slavery reparations in the U.S. is also a popular idea, with the U.N. Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent recently recommending that the U.S. consider payment to African-American slavery descendants.
“The colonial history, the legacy of enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the U.S. remains a serious challenge as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,” the U.N. report said.
Dueling arguments divided along racial lines will make it difficult for the U.N.’s recommendation to ever take hold. For starters, approximately 63.7 percent of the U.S. population is white compared to 12.2 percent black, and the vast majority of whites (81 percent) were against paying slavery reparations.
Furthermore, while the majority of blacks do support them, the majority is not as strong as one might think with just 58 percent saying yes to the proposition. Finally, the booming demographic of Hispanics and Latinos were evenly divided for and against (46 and 47 percent, respectively).
The poll surveyed 1,221 people over the age of 18 and was administered by phone at the end of April and early May. A sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points is in effect.
With so little support even within the African-American community, slavery reparations will have an uphill climb and be a political loser for at least two decades. However, changing demographics and increased millennial/GenZ support would be game changers around 20 to 30 years from now.
But what do you think, readers?
— Samuel J. Redman (@samueljredman) May 9, 2016
Should white people of today be responsible for the socioeconomic conditions their ancestors forced on African Americans from the dawn of this country to the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement and the modern day, or would slavery reparations just create greater racial tensions and make it more difficult for the nation to heal its divides? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Tyler Merbler]