(TargetLiberty.org) – The latest YouGov survey reveals a decline in American endorsement for slavery reparations over a four-year period.
In 2019, nearly 4 in 10 Americans voiced support for reparations to descendants of slaves. This year, that number has fallen to 31 percent, slightly higher than the 30 percent in 2021. Over half of the respondents (53 percent) expressed opposition to direct cash reparations, while 16 percent remained undecided.
Interestingly, the sentiment shifts when considering private entities; 36 percent of Americans believe that businesses that benefited from slavery should offer monetary compensations.
The hesitation towards reparations stems from various reasons. The financial burden on taxpayers is a notable concern, but there’s also the challenge of quantifying the repercussions of slavery. Some argue that the present-day treatment of Black Americans is fairer, suggesting they shouldn’t benefit financially from their ancestors’ struggles. This mindset is influenced by misconceptions about the existing wealth disparity, as highlighted by Michael Kraus from Yale, who pointed out the significant wealth gap between Black and white American households.
Recent data reveals that a white American in their late 50s, on average, possesses $251,000 more wealth than a Black American of the same age. Black Americans also face challenges in achieving social and economic advancement compared to their white peers.
While the U.S. has offered reparations in the past – to Japanese Americans post-WWII and certain Native American groups – the idea of reparations linked to slavery hasn’t gained substantial national momentum.
The perceptions of slavery’s legacy differ significantly between Black and white Americans, affecting their stance on reparations. Only a third of white respondents associate U.S. prosperity with slave labor, in contrast to 65 percent of Black respondents.
Around half of the survey participants acknowledge the lasting societal effects of slavery and believe that Black Americans confront ongoing prejudice. However, responses vary considerably based on racial background. A strong majority of Black respondents (77 percent) think the government owes an apology, while only 35 percent of white participants share this view.
Regarding potential government-issued cash payments to all Black Americans, only a quarter of the total respondents agree. Still, among Black Americans, 69 percent support this, regardless of direct ancestral ties to slavery.
Danielle Taana Smith from Syracuse University notes that these disparities in perception underscore the persistent segregation and differing experiences between Black and white Americans. She emphasizes the unique challenges faced by people of color that often remain invisible to the white majority.
A report from the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California-Berkeley confirms this divide, showing that over 80 percent of major cities were more segregated in 2019 than in 1990.
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