The Surprising Beneficiaries of American Slavery
Slavery has never been legal in California. But that didn’t stop the California Reparations Task Force. In its final report, issued on June 29, it suggested that the state government pay $1.3 million to Californians who can demonstrate that they are the descendant of a slave or a freed black person living in the U.S. prior to 1900. This payment is to compensate those whose ancestors suffered from chattel slavery and its downstream effects, such as racism and lower life expectancies.
Here’s the problem. The reparations being proposed will take money from people, the vast majority of whom gained nothing from slavery, and give it to people who benefited immensely from slavery.
Who suffered from slavery? The slaves themselves. They were brought from Africa against their will, and they were forced to work without receiving the full value of their labor.
Who gained nothing from slavery? Except for the rare person who inherited an estate that slavery enriched, every contemporary non-black American gained nothing from slavery.
Who gained from slavery? Americans of African descent.
The late economist Walter E. Williams said that slavery was the worst thing ever to happen to his ancestors, but the best thing ever to happen to him. Why? Because instead of growing up in Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Senegal, Mali, or the Democratic Republic of Congo, he enjoyed the opportunities, wealth, health, security, and freedom of the United States.
This is from David R. Henderson and Charles L. Hooper, “The Surprising Beneficiaries of American Slavery,” American Institute for Economic Research, July 14, 2023.
Read the whole thing. It’s quite short.