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Opinion

Monetary reparations may not be the best way to atone for slavery

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Sen. Cory Booker, left, and actor Danny Glover testified on reparations June 19 before a House Judiciary panel.
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

To the editor: This nation’s guilt over its protracted acceptance of slavery cries out for expiation. However, monetary reparations may not be the most appropriate way of compensating the descendants of slaves for the abuses and loss of freedom they suffered. (“Lawmakers weigh slavery reparations: ‘Why not, and why not now?’” June 19)

A better way would be for Congress to pass legislation to subsidize college tuition and other expenses of higher education for young people who are descendants of slaves.

Give them an opportunity to achieve the status in society that education can offer, along with the ability to contribute to our nation in ways they were denied when our forebears, motivated by economic gain, allowed their ancestors to be enslaved.

Judith Searle, Santa Monica

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To the editor: If we as a nation are to begin making reparations, let’s start with addressing the elimination of Native American tribes.

In addition to that and the enslavement of Africans, let’s not forget about the people of Japanese descent imprisoned in the United States during World War II. And what of the descendants of Union soldiers who fought for emancipation? They left orphans and widows behind.

I see no reason why my children are expected to pay those who are upset because of the sins of our fathers. Get present.

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Philip Daughtry, Topanga

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To the editor: America has an unfortunate history of repressive policies, including genocide, enslavement, child labor and more.

How do we atone? Looking at the situation today, what do we owe to, say, the well-off, gifted black woman? Do we own anything to the impaired white man?

Doing nothing because these questions are difficult is a convenient dodge. As a wealthy nation, we should acknowledge that some of our national wealth is the result of exploitation.

One possible approach is the creation of a national atonement commission, financed through a wealth tax. It could issue yearly grants to struggling communities. Ultimately, it could be disbanded, but only when we learn to treat each other right.

Ed Salisbury, Santa Monica

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