I Didn’t Earn Slavery Reparations, and I Don’t Want Them
My ancestor Silas Burgess came to America in chains. But even he was able to live the American Dream.
My great-great-grandfather Silas Burgess came to America shackled in the belly of a slave ship. He was sold on an auction block in Charleston, S.C., to the Burgess Plantation. Orphaned by age 8, he was fortunately surrounded by elder slaves who, though physically chained, mentally envisioned themselves as free men. They escaped, taking young Silas with them, making their way to West Texas via the southern route of the Underground Railroad. Silas became a risk-taking entrepreneur and the owner of 102 acres of farmland, which he cultivated and paid off within two years. I proudly carry the name of my first American ancestor—who, like millions of others drawn or brought to our country, struggled past overwhelming obstacles to live the American Dream.
Silas founded the first black church and first black elementary school in his town. He was a proud Republican, a devout Christian, the patriarch of a large family, and a pillar of his community. He was proud and industrious and taught his children to be the same.
Now, because of him, a bunch of Democratic presidential hopefuls want to give me money. Never mind that like Silas, I am an entrepreneur who has lived the American dream—having received a world-class education, built businesses, raised a remarkable family and, unlike most white Americans, earned a Super Bowl ring. Because of work I’ve never done, stripes I’ve never had, under a whip I’ll never know, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren and others want to give me free stuff. Never mind that it will be taken from others, who also dreamed, worked and sacrificed to earn it.
I wonder what great-great-grandpa Silas would think.
At the core of the reparation movement is a divisive and demeaning view of both races. It grants to the white race a wicked superiority, treating them as an oppressive people too powerful for black Americans to overcome. It brands blacks as hapless victims devoid of the ability, which every other culture possesses, to assimilate and progress. Neither label is earned.
Socialist historians have for generations hidden the contributions and success of the black community in America. This has cost us our pride in our past, taken our appreciation for the present, and left us with a lack of vision for our future. The message from our past great black generations is simple: Character cannot be bought and will never allow itself to be diminished by bribery.
Mr. Owens was a Super Bowl champion with the Oakland Raiders. He is the author of “Liberalism or How to Turn Good Men into Whiners, Weenies and Wimps.”https://www.wsj.com/articles/i-didnt-earn-slavery-reparations-and-i-dont-want-them-11558732429