Keyes proposes reparations

By Nina Gougis

Senate hopeful Alan Keyes introduced his theory to provide reparation to descendants of slaves during his campaign stop in Chicago last week.

In response to a reporter’s question regarding lawsuits by the descendants, he proposed what he thought was a more plausible solution: Exempt descendants of African slaves from federal taxes for one or two generations.

This exemption, Keyes said, would help relieve the damages of slavery and discrimination by removing the tax burden from the black community and encouraging more investments in business and black ownership.

“He put forth what he thought was a better idea in ways to repair the economic injury done to the descendants of slaves through slavery,” said Connie Hair, spokeswoman for the Keyes campaign.

Other people have questioned the need for reparations in any form.

“Over half a million people died during the Civil War to abolish slavery and that is the greatest reparation,” College Republicans Chairman Andrew Nelms said.

Tommy Vietor, deputy press secretary for the Obama, said government programs promoting equality in education and job training are the best way to repair the damage.

“The best strategies for moving forward involve vigorously enforcing our anti-discrimination laws in education and job training, investing in quality schools and training so everyone can have the opportunity they deserve to succeed,” Vietor said.

Derrick Smith, NIU academic counselor for the Center for Black Studies, said a major effect of slavery exists in the poor quality of education in inner-city schools. He said that investing in quality education – not tax exemptions -is essential in relieving the remaining effects of slavery.

“Blacks need to be re-educated in order to know how to invest in businesses,” Smith said.

Smith also said that tax exemptions would be minimal since black Americans comprise much of the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum.