Don’t be a Prisoner of Your Past

I’m sure everyone has heard this one! We all have things that happened to us in the course of our lives that were negative, unpleasant, sad, even deeply traumatic for some. However, the saying goes, don’t let your past define you. The legacy you inherited doesn’t have to be your children’s legacy. How the schoolyard bully treated you does not have to define the rest of your life. You don’t automatically have to be a drunk because that’s what mom or dad was. Or never find love because your parents couldn’t with each other. If you’ve been through some tragedy or trauma, you can get help to move on with life and not allow whatever happened to define who you are today.

For some people however, this “past” goes beyond what they’ve been through as individuals, but also includes what was done to your racial or ethnic group or even gender for example. I think we can all admit this country has some moments we aren’t so proud of. Slavery, conquest, racism, sexism, discrimination, exclusion, ostracism, etc. of certain groups historically. However despite the many social strides towards equality this country also has made to atone for and help eradicate the past hatred, prejudice and discrimination, some still argue that members of these historically oppressed groups have literally inherited the past trauma of their ancestors despite they themselves not having the same negative experiences as the previous generations. They call this “trans-generational trauma”, arguing the legacy left behind by historical oppression has somehow traumatized today’s generations.

Now here’s the thing: I understand about epigenetics and wondered if they are arguing that somehow a gene could have been turned off or on altering the next generation’s genetic makeup somehow due to the previous generation’s direct experience of trauma, but apparently that wasn’t necessarily the case that trans-generational trauma is biologically inherited. I also wondered if they thought a factor like the parent’s or grandparent’s experiences would reasonably influence what they told or how they raised the next generation who hadn’t been there as it is plausible. You will be affected to some degree by what a parent or other family member tells you growing up about what they went through or in how they raise you. That isn’t the whole of this “trans-generational trauma” thing either though! Apparently, the main factor cited was the younger generations are “traumatized” by guess what? Society!

Yep. The argument is the history of oppression by society in the past and alleged oppression today “traumatizes” people of historically oppressed groups. To give an example, one supporting the trans-generational trauma theory could argue that members of the black community are “traumatized” by slavery in the US that was abolished over a century ago, or that more recently, a millennial generation black person is somehow personally traumatized by the lynchings their great grandparents witnessed in the Jim Crow era despite never having any personal experience with lynchings other than in 2nd period US History! Now, I can agree that knowing your people were treated so heinously in the past would be very unsettling and disturbing. However to claim you have the same or comparable trauma as your great grandparent who was actually there? Is that reasonable?

Another example would be Native Americans. The US historically had many unfair policies and practices such as assimilation at boarding schools that wiped much of their own languages and cultures out. The reservation system was very corrupt. Sadly, many Native Americans today have many issues such as alcoholism, poverty, child abuse etc… May do claim trans-generational trauma. They say all their issues hearken back to historical policies that now have been overturned, such as boarding schools for them, or forcing them onto reservations although many choose to live on them now. They claim their history of oppression has led to their current poverty, alcoholism, health problems, etc… and left them traumatized. Only thing is, the younger generations have not personally been forced into boarding schools, have not been at historical events like Wounded Knee, have not been forced onto reservations preventing them from hunting the buffalo for example. No. They like most of America’s youth mourn the loss of their phone privileges more than the fact they as a people can no longer live a nomadic lifestyle on the plains! (Yes, before you cry “not all Indians were…” I know I’m talking mostly about the Plains Indians specifically  for the sake of brevity!).

Another point: Why is the past a valid reason to excuse poor behavior in the present? A community wants to improve and break the cycle, yet does nothing themselves because it feels historical oppression cursed them to a life of misery! To me, it’s like saying “I’m a drunk because my parents were drunks” as an excuse not to get treatment for your own addiction! “The white man oppressed me so I’m destined to act this way…” is the logic behind this.

Why can’t the past be in the past? Of course the past shapes our future, but it doesn’t define it! We can’t change what happened to us, but we can shape our future to be different learning from our past. We can choose to break the cycle. Choose to leave another legacy than oppression, poverty and victimhood to pass on to the next generation of our community. Your parent’s divorce doesn’t mean your marriage will end in divorce. You have no excuse to abuse another because you were abused. Most an agree with those statements. So why is it hard to make the leap to say your ancestors’ oppression is no excuse to not move forward as a community and make a clean slate for your children free from the baggage you may have carried in your past?

Honestly, I find it incredibly insulting and dishonoring to the struggles your ancestors had to claim that you too are traumatized by those events! Why? You were not there! My great-grandfather fled Armenia due to genocide by the Ottoman Empire. My Dad was his grandson, however he does not and has no right whatsoever to claim he was also a victim of the genocide his grandfather endured! My grandmother was relentlessly ostracized for being Armenian in her all Irish neighborhood yet I am not the one who has been traumatized and forever changed because of it because it was HER experience, NOT mine! Step back for a moment and think, isn’t it utterly belittling and disrespectful to those who have actually endured the worst history had to offer and claim it as your trauma? Your burden? To have the audacity to say it changed you? 

You are not the one who was a slave.

You are not the one in an internment camp.

You are not the one who was segregated all your life.

You are not the one killed at Wounded Knee or forced in a boarding school.

You are not the one who was forced to see your family killed in a genocide.

You are not the one who was denied their humanity in the worst ways.

Overall I find it incredibly insulting and disrespectful anyone dares to capitalize off their ancestors’ suffering to claim oppression for themselves. Frankly it’s sad anyone also would see themselves as a victim with only a legacy of oppression and victimhood to pass on to their children. No, contemporary society is not a utopia and prejudice still exists, but being focused in the present is a whole other story than being stuck in the past. Why not make the legacy you pass on to the next generation after you one of resilience, perseverance, independence and determination instead of perpetual victimhood and trauma from past wrongs done generations before their time? What child wants to sit on your lap and listen to how society hated them and always will and be taught certain people hate them? Leave a legacy of “victor-hood”, not victimhood!

Lastly, what sort of trauma might a generation of white people have over being the historical “oppressor” and “bad guy” when countless white people want to genuinely make change and leave their own legacy of love and acceptance rather than their ancestors’ alleged legacy of oppression and subjugation? Must they be defined by the sins of their forefathers? What about the historical oppression against other groups? Why don’t Italians, Germans, Irish etc… have this so called “Trans-generational trauma” from their history? After all, this isn’t about current trauma, but your ancestor’s trauma.

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41 thoughts on “Don’t be a Prisoner of Your Past

  1. I think claiming ancestral “restitution” is one of the most ludicrous victimization ideas yet. I’ve noticed a common theme among people these days and it’s how they do NOT want control over a situation. Control would mean responsibility over something and being able to choose a path. Lack of control would mean your outcome is completely left up to chance and destiny and you had no fault or responsibility over it. The “body positivity” crowd does not want control over their caloric intake because that would mean accepting responsibility for obesity because they actually had a choice over that matter. Now ultra-progressive babies want to cry that people are at complete mercy of their environment and past. Meaning, if they are a failure in life, they had no control over it and it was someone else’s fault they are the way they are. I’m a minority woman from an immigrant single mother who grew up in a bad neighborhood. I could have ended up pregnant at 15 and a drop out on government assistance. But instead, I took control over my choices, and made them wisely. I use my 2 degrees and salary to give an academic middle finger to anyone that thinks minorities cannot obtain the success. It’s a middle finger to people that say immigrants are criminals. It’s a middle finger to people that say women belong in the kitchen. And last but not least, it’s a middle finger to anyone that tells me I’m a victim of my past. The sooner people realize they live in a country where they can take control of their futures and give a big fat middle finger to anyone telling them otherwise, the sooner they’ll climb out and go forward from the victimization hole they dig themselves into. At the very least, if not for yourself, progress in life to spite those who they believe “continue” to “oppress” them.

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  2. This is something I have myself having a really hard time with. Here in Canada, there’s a bit deal about the “Truth and Reconciliation” thing, the mess of our offensively patriarchal Indian Act, and the added mess of all sorts of treaties that got signed, but not followed through on at the time, but impossible to follow through on today.

    On the one hand, I am quite willing to recognize some really awful things were done, and this needs to be acknowledged, and things need to change. On the other, I’m first generation born in Canada. I have zero historical responsibility for any of this. So why should I have to pay for something people did ages ago? My husband, on the other hand, is Metis. Which is pretty meaningless. His family is East coast, and there, mixed blood people tended to blend in with the town folks, while on the prairies, they tended to blend in with the tribal villages. They weren’t really accepted by either side, so they formed their own Nation, with their own culture and language, eventually rising in rebellion and creating the province of Manitoba.

    But for me, there’s another part of it that has me getting my back up when I hear people start demanding restitution for all these terrible things done to their ancestors. My background is Polish. Other nations have been trying to wipe us out for over a thousand years. Poland was wiped off the maps for a while. In the last 100 years, we had the Nazis try to wipe us out, along with their Ukrainian allies. My father spent the last years of the war as a slave (aka “forced labourer”). Among the things they did was take Polish children and place them with German families, to be raised as good little Aryans, their language, culture and heritage denied them. Sound familiar? The atrocities my parents witnessed and survived haunted them all their lives; my father has passed on, and my mother’s memory has, blessedly in her case, gotten pretty selective. The horrors people witnessed drove some insane, and I have no doubt my mother’s undiagnosed mental illness is related to what she experienced (and her mother suffered was much the same, I’m told; she survived 2 world wars). They managed to come to Canada after the war, but the horrors didn’t end for family still in Poland, with the communists taking over where the Nazis left off. I recently met a cousin not all that long ago, for the first time, who suffered physical violence that permanently damaged him, fighting off the communists. Is what was done to him somehow less of an atrocity because he was a white man, and the people who beat him were also white men? Or because he is a European, who was beaten by other Europeans? What makes him less of a victim than people with more melanin in their skin?

    It leaves me having a much harder time feeling empathy when people go on about all the horrible things done to their ancestors here in North and South America. Especially coming from groups that historically were really quite violent to each other, before any European ever set foot in the Americas. My reaction is more of a “join the club” thing. As the years go by, and the victimhood mentality just seems to increase, with more demands for “restitution”, I start to lose my empathy. Why is their ancestral suffering somehow a bigger deal than, say, my own? Or, as mentioned here, any Armenian’s? I have no connection to what was done to them. My husband’s family, in their 300 years on this continent, had no connection to what was done to them. So why are we supposed to feel guilty and pay restitution for any of this?

    Throughout history, every group has done horrible things to other groups, and had horrible things done to them. Sadly, humans are just plain awful to each other, and they will use any excuse to justify being awful to each other.

    I’m all for recognizing that and working to change things, but there’s only so far “restitution” makes sense. Especially when it’s demanded of people who could just as easily play the victim game.

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    • The “I didn’t do it, so I should not have to help pay for it” argument is a common one, but that isn’t how anything else in government works. We all pay for things that we didn’t do, aren’t using or didn’t approve of. I see no reason that compensation for harm caused by racist policies should be an exception to the rule.

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      • If it’s a common one, there’s a reason for it. And lots of things in government works completely differently. There’s a big difference between, say, paying for something through your taxes that the government is doing right now that I don’t approve of – like our government putting up fake refugees pouring into Canada over the US border in hotels and giving them monthly incomes, housing, food, medical and dental care, while at the time time fighting in court to NOT give our veterans what they were promised and entitled to, as part of their service to their country, and the government paying money as “restitution” for claims without actually verifying that they actually happened. Even back in the 80’s, I was reading about more people claiming compensation for residential school abuse than actually went to residential schools. And now we’re supposed to pay their kids and grand kids, too? I’m all for acknowledging a terrible thing was done. I’m all for making changes to ensure things like that never happen again. I’m even okay with things like counseling programs and the like, to help people overcome the long term harm it caused. But throwing money at people because they demand it is not going to help anyone. As one chief said (again, going back to the 80’s) when asked what was the best thing to help survivors of the residential school system was, he flat out said DON’T give his people money. He described how his people were already struggling with alcoholism and addiction. They would just blow the cash on drugs and booze. Counseling programs, drug and alcohol rehab programs, job training – those were things that would actually help.
        A lot of these calls for restitution are by groups that have no interest in helping their own people. We’ve got an inquest going about missing and murdered Native women. It was supposed to be done already, but the committee of activists running it keep dragging it on and on, saying they need more time. No inquest was needed. Almost 60 had already been done. While the percentage of FN women missing and murdered is disproportionately high, the causes are known, and match that of the greater population. Most of these cases are closed and the perpetrators known: almost all of these women were killed by people they knew, and almost all involved domestic abuse, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and gang violence. Which means the violence against FN is almost exclusively perpetrated by FN men. But that’s not the narrative the activists want to push. They want all of us “white people” (because racism is apparently okay, when it’s coming from people in the victim industry) to be made to pay. Sorry, but I’m not about to feel guilty for something just because I lack melanin in my skin.
        A lot of these restitution claims make as much sense as me going to Germany and saying, hey, you Nazis enslaved my dad during the war. Pay me. Or to Ukraine and say, hey, your folks that allied with the Nazis against Russian shot Polish people into mass graves, bragged about it after the war, and laughed over how the ground heaved as still alive victims struggled and slowly suffocated to death. Pay me. Or to Russia and say, some of your soldiers gang raped my grandmother in front of my mother and aunt when they were kids. Pay me. Heck, should I go to the Canadian government and say, hey, you expelled my husband’s family from Acadia back in the 1700’s. Never mind that this happened before Canada was even a country yet. Pay me.
        Nope. I’m not going to hold today’s German’s, Ukrainians and Russians, nor today’s Canadian government, for what they did to my family and my people. And I won’t be held responsible for things other people did, decades or even centuries ago. Nor should today’s governments allow themselves to be blackmailed into paying “restitution” for things they were not a part of, and after the systems that allowed them to happen no longer exists.

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      • Sounds like a strong argument for less taxation and smaller government, because forcing others to pay for things they didn’t do, aren’t using and don’t approve of is profoundly immoral.

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  3. My goodness gracious,judging from the volume and tenor of the comments, the Lady of Reason has chosen a topic that has sparked some strong feelings. The problem that I have with the more emotional comments is that they are just that, emotional temper tantrums rather than reasoned responses, often mistaking what the Lady of Reason is saying. I defer to the Lady if I am in error when I state that she did not say that we shouldn’t acknowledge victims as Nonya claimed in the 12:49 post. My understanding of the Lady’s point is that victim status is not something inherited. That is, your parents, grandparents etc might have suffered an injustice, but that doesn’t qualify you as a victim. In addition, I believe that the Lady of Reason is pointing out that one’s claimed status as a victim, either directly or vicariously through one’s ancestors is not authorization for antinomian behavior. As Frederick Douglass said, freedom means being responsible for your own actions.

    Several of the commenters have posted angry “hit and run” comments such as accusing the Lady of being a white supremacist or gratuitously claiming that conservative Christians are the most whiny and coddled “victims” in the U.S. today. I’m not interested in name calling. If they are not interested in presenting objective facts and linear reasoning, I’m inclined to let them vent without taking them seriously.

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    • My understanding of the Lady’s point is that victim status is not something inherited. That is, your parents, grandparents etc might have suffered an injustice, but that doesn’t qualify you as a victim.

      If parents and grandparents were victimized in a way that harmed them financially then they would have fewer resources to pass on to their children. The children might not be a direct victim of that event, but it cost them.

      In addition, I believe that the Lady of Reason is pointing out that one’s claimed status as a victim, either directly or vicariously through one’s ancestors is not authorization for antinomian behavior.

      I’m sure that almost everyone would agree with this. (I’m not sure where A Lady of Reason has seen people claim that being the descendant of a slave is just like being enslaved personally and is an excuse for bad behavior. Maybe links to the discussions where people are making these kinds of claims would help. I’d love to read them.)

      Conversely not having directly contributed to a harm but benefiting from that harm doesn’t excuse you from making recompense. If my parents rob someone and give me the money I shouldn’t just tell the children of the victim to get over it because it is mine now. Well I could I suppose, but not while claiming to be a moral person.

      I stand by my comments about the whiny false sense of victimhood that has become part of conservative culture. There is constant complaining about something that someone somewhere said or did that somehow makes the conservative person feel threatened and victimized. Trans people in bathrooms ( there are hardly any trans people around. The chances of one being in your bathroom at the same that you are is slim) gay people getting married, bakers being sued, people saying Happy Holidays, Indigenous People’s Day, someone called a racist because they said some racist thing on Twitter and on and on and on. The whining is constant and there is always something to be outraged about. Most of these outrages disappear when you turn off Fox News, or log off social media.

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  4. I especially liked your reference to epigenetics. That was an elegant way to underline the point that one does not inherit vicarious victim status. After all, we cannot change what our ancestors underwent, so it is a wrong without remedy. If we choose to consider ourselves victims because of something that is unchangeable, we will always be victims.

    Given that much of the debate consists of demands for payment of slavery reparations to those whose ancestors were slaves and for past oppression, I think it might be helpful to hear from
    someone who actually was a slave in the ante-bellum south, Frederick Douglass. He did not call for reparations and felt that such pandering would be harmful. He said the freed slaves should be allowed to succeed or fail on their own:

    https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/what-shall-be-done-with-the-slaves-if-emancipated/

    The economist, Thomas Sowell has written at length of how various ethnic groups deal with the challenges of emigration to foreign lands and he has emphasized the importance of “social capital,” that is, those cultural traits that make for success in a given environment. In books such as his “Ethnic America” he pointed out that those ethnic groups, such as the Irish immigrants to the U.S., who used politics to succeed, did not fare better than groups such as Jews or Chinese who tended to ignore politics and concentrate on their own efforts. The political route will get you a lot of corrupt politicians who will line their own pockets while pandering to your victim status and providing handouts that keep you dependent.

    Dr. Sowell cited three tendencies that were associated with success: hard work, thrift and a high regard for education. Whining about the victimization of one’s ancestors didn’t seem to be a very helpful strategy. As my mother, the daughter of poor sharecroppers, used to say when I was a boy: “Excuses don’t get the job done!”

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    • Oh yeah, like being labeled with hominem attacks, personally demonized etc… for daring to not think exactly as the left does on complex issues that can’t be summarized with black and white idealism and slogans… Or checking a different box in the ballot booth. Just stating for the record, I’m an atheist 😂 Keep in mind too, plenty of conservatives go outside the box of your preconcieved stereotypes (I assume you left out “white”) of who we are such as people like Candace Owens, Thomas Sowell, CJ Pearson, and Michelle Malkin for a few…

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      • I am socially and fiscally conservative and generally believe in more conservative principles. However, I am also pragmatic about politics. The left often gets wrong in principle what makes sense in practice. The right is often right on the principles, but in a way that won’t work in the real world. For example abortion is wrong and IMO conservatives have won the moral argument there. In practice their abortion ban wouldn’t work and is a disaster when they attempt it.

        Conservatives have been corrupt on race for quite some time. A lot of the losses that they’ve experienced (socially and politically) and the losses that are coming could’ve been avoided had they been less racist. They are wrong in principle and in practice on most racial issues.

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    • I am Conservative and Christian, but I can’t help but notice the truth of this.

      I blame Fox News for encouraging people to feel victimized by little things that haven’t happened to them and likely won’t effect them or anyone that they know. Some baker five states over gets sued for not making gay wedding cake and suddenly I, the daughter of people who lived under Jim Crow and stood their ground against white people who literally tried to burn their church, am supposed to tremble in fear. Some trans person somewhere used the bathroom where they weren’t wanted and I should clutch my pearls and cry about what has become of our society. Please.

      They are being ridiculous and should turn off Fox News and go outside.

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      • I’m curious now… What makes you identify as conservative, as much of what you say here sounds more Left leaning? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can’t have opinions outside either box as I do too on other issues…

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  5. However to claim you have the same or comparable trauma as your great grandparent who was actually there? Is that reasonable?

    Is this really a thing? I’ve not seen anyone making this claim. Most of the “trans generational trauma” discussions have basically been this:

    Now, I can agree that knowing your people were treated so heinously in the past would be very unsettling and disturbing.

    And discussions about what the effects of that have been.

    Personally, I’ve found knowing that I am the descendant of people who overcame great evil and hardship to be quite empowering.

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      • You seriously think you can dictate or assume how someone else should feel based on your privileged upbringing. I would challenge you to stop speaking English, give away everything you have, plop your ass in a reservation 60-100 miles from an economic hub and fight your way out. Then, as soon as you start to gain some traction have it taken from you again and again as resources are discovered on your land. I suppose the folks of Greenwood Oklahoma would understand my comment as well. Then to add to this, I need you to disdain the way it life you are forced to master and be happy about it. Just pull yourself up after hundreds of years of being told what to do by someone that has stripped you of every bit of dignity and pride you ever had in your natural existence.

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      • “Hundreds of years”…

        My point exactly. You can argue all you want about present day inequalities affecting individuals but no individual has personally lived through several centuries worth of oppression! The oppression of your ancestors is NOT your own personal victimhood. It seems a pity to not only have present day inequalities to fight, but also your own mental shackles chaining you to a past you, the individual, were never a part of. For the record, no one is forcing Indians to stay on reservations just as there aren’t any present day slaves or slave owners who justifiably are the ones that owe the reparations. We can’t do anything now to undo the oppression of the past for previous generations. However we can change our future and that requires looking forward and forging new paths, not constantly retracing old ones, or feeling like the past has sealed our present fates and made us helpless to advance ourselves. Furthermore, who is anyone to deem certain people banned from having their own prospective on any issue?

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      • It’s not over, but it is drastically better than even 60 years ago… No one here is claiming we’re in some post racial utopia, and certainly not with the current polarization and racial divisiveness of our country… The left’s black and white (no pun intended) stance on race relations isn’t helping…

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      • Honestly, it would be very challenging to overcome, but not impossible. Hard does not mean impossible, or that there’s no choice but to give up on bettering yourself in spite of the odds. That’s how social progress is made after all. People being victors rather than staying victims. Even if you don’t get as far as you’d like, at least you tried. That counts for a lot in itself.
        As a woman, I could argue you as a man, have not faced the obstacles I have in life and can’t imagine being in my shoes. However, I don’t see myself as oppressed despite centuries of women being “oppressed” in many societies worldwide and if it ever had limited me, I’d work just that much harder to go where I want to.
        Look, I knew from the moment I hit publish on this post we’d disagree 😉 I respect you so I’ve answered your questions and counterarguments in earnest, but I think we both know we’re not going to agree and going in circles won’t further either one of our intellects. Let’s touch base next time for round 2 😉

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      • I’m not sure why acknowledging victims gets such a bad rap.

        Victim – a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.

        Sometimes people are victims. It isn’t something that you get a lot of choice in. Pretending that you weren’t harmed when you were is not empowering.The truth is empowering.

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      • I think the key is you can be vicimized by something out of your control, but not have a defeatist attitude and be proactive in changing your circumstances rather than making what happened deterministic of what is possible in your future. For example, Japanese Americans were once placed in internment camps and treated as the enemy. Now how much do you hear about that group suffering due to that historical oppression in the US now? They were victimized but they weren’t in a mentality of staying victims. Also unlike European groups who were also discriminated against historically, you can’t argue they had it better because they were white and could assimilate into the majority.

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      • Do you know many Japanese people personally? I ask because the ones that I know are quite aware of their recent American history and of the fact that they received reparations. I’ve also heard plenty of complaints about racism and stereotyping. They don’t have the big mic/highly visible platform that black Americans have built.

        Black Americans have been quite proactive about improving our circumstances, which is why our situation in this country has improved. You can both acknowledge that you’ve been victimized and work to improve your situation. We seem realize that this is case in every situation that doesn’t involve race.

        For example when I was the victim of a car break in years ago I acknowledged what happened, fixed what I could and took what steps I could to make sure that it didn’t happen again. No sane person would assume that my discussing the break in and the problems that resulted were a substitute for action on my part.

        Why then is it assumed that victims of racism and oppression are not working to improve their lives because they acknowledge the racism and oppression? You don’t have be delusional or in denial about the challenges to overcome them. In fact not acknowledging the truth of your circumstances will probably make things worse.

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      • I agree with much of what you say here. I guess an example to clarify my points is one shifting gears from race to gender.

        As a woman, one can argue that my gender makes me a minority of historically oppressed group in terms of gender discrimination. However I don’t see myself as carrying the weight of centuries before my time or a victim in the present day. If there are obstacles due to my gender I’ll work that much harder to get where I want to go in life, and not wait for someone else to fix it for me. Or more importantly, blame the male sex for any setbacks I face and determine I can only get so far because of men from generations past in spite of all the current strides in gender equality.

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      • Smart lady. 🙂 But then again… being a male am I just saying that because I acknowledge and admire your tenacity as a human being or am I saying it because as a male there’s a subliminal attraction I may have toward assertive women with a greater purpose? Either way there’s an enhanced respect. My point is.. we do not live in a sterile world.. in the end we are all just “simply” male and female born with a natural affinity to gauge interaction as a way toward mate selection and subsequent reproduction… which is the entire essence for our existence anyway. That’s one role humans can never change (yet).

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  6. Actually, I have felt this for decades but more so lately given I am now, by extension, one of many white oppressors who ran this country since the the first colonists arrived here. In fact, I am from Viking heritage so I suppose my ancestors stumbling on the shores of Canada started the ball rolling. Sorry.. being white makes me think in broader terms. What she is saying here is a very valid opinion. Having said that and having agreed with this opinion on some level (mostly out of “white” frustration) I am not ignorant of the realities of CONTEMPORARY life. I will most certainly never suffer the indignities of any minority by white folks but comparing those indignities to those of the past does seem out of whack.

    Consider this in human terms. Humans have migrated around the globe since “Adam & Eve” and for the most part that migration has carried with it, of course, all the baggage our human foibles have imposed upon ourselves. How many times in the millennia have the peoples of Asia and Europe conquered and re-conquered each other, oppressing each other in some form in that entire process? Why would the European colonization of the Americas be any different? We are using our (alleged) intellectual social development and “modern” civilization to judge our ancestors when we have NO idea the life and times they experienced to make them think and act the way they did. We are all living in a country that was formed and transformed totally based on the generations of people who had their “contemporary” thinking in the times that defined them. Very simple example… we look back on the unjust horror of our Greatest Generation folks putting Japanese Americans along the West Coast into internment camps. Appalling.. right? Reparations is an attempt to “fix” a wrong. It made sense given most their personal property was confiscated by the government and for nothing else but a human acknowledgment of the “great wrong” to try and compensate. But that generation was scared to death that there was little or no naval or air military to oppose a Japanese invasion force landing on the West Coast. Right or wrong.. one would have to live in that fear, at that time.. to understand the “why” in what they did.
    Slavery was one of the founding institutions of this country. Today it is wrong to enslave. Back then it was part of the culture of the times. Yet there are those that seem to think reparations are in order for the decedents of those who were enslaved… given the slaves were forced to “build’ our early country because they were cheap labor. I contend that this was part of how our country is today… that we had to travel a development role that was not fair to native Americans, Black Americans, the shifting racial immigrants of their day, etc. to reach this point in our current development. We are all “profiting” from the successes and abuses of our past… and the people who suffered those abuses, along with everyone who has died in this country since its founding and through successive generations, has contributed to where we are today. Reparations? No.. what we owe our ancestors who suffered is an accurate portrayal of their contribution in the development of this country within our educational system and social awareness. Just handing out money to a decedent living now for suffering their ancestor experienced is not right at all. The country in which you live now IS your “reparation”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True… Acknowledging and changing injustice is different from giving out meaningless handouts out of context generations removed from the actual incidents. I also love that you brought up the point we must understand WHY our ancestors did what we now disagree with.

      Another historical example in my mind are the assimilation policies towards Indians. I disagree with what they did to wipe out their cultures as I feel they could have become bi-cultural and learned Western ways while keeping their own heritage. However, one must remember white settlers had a very real fear of Indian raids where entire families could be destroyed. Perhaps they thought assimilation was the drastic measure needed to keep their families safe, as well as it being the attitude of the time for anyone who wasn’t in American culture such as immigrants. As multiculturalism is today’s Zeitgeist, assimilation was the prevailing attitude of that era.

      We don’t have to agree with what our ancestors did, but understanding the why helps put us in their shoes. Surely we will do things our descendants will condemn just as judgmentally.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The main reason America, Canada, and Australia and maybe a couple others have set aside reservations to preserve native cultures and peoples is that those struggles manifested themselves primarily in the mid to late 19th century.. when our own civilized values were being realized that saw the unfair treatment.. as we moved into the 20th century. In other words… it’s a bit recent in our national developmental timeline. If this had been Europe and Asia the various conquests would have been going on since Greek and Roman days and the native populations and cultures would just have been assimilated and/or allowed to wither away. Putting aboriginal humans on reservations was simply to patronize the white man’s guilt at the time. Those reservations (at least in America) have been allowed to fester in immense poverty and most really didn’t have this “deep seated” cultural/religious lifestyle; it’s a bastardization of Christian influence for the most part. In retrospect we would have done the Native Americans greater personal good by allowing them to assimilate as do any other immigrants. But white man guilt “gave” them an odd “sovereign nation” status to govern themselves and in typical human fashion they have been unsuccessful. The recent introduction of gaming casinos has given the various tribes an influx of cash… but it by no means solves many of their problems. Politics abounds in reservation governments and the young are leaving the reservation in droves. Are there some “successful” reservations? Of course… but very rare. In the meantime reservations are not a collection of happy, culturally bound to the earth, peoples sitting around making moccasins and reed baskets. Diabetes is rampant, severe emotional issues, depression is huge, crime is the same as off the reservation. The people are generally suffering.

        Liked by 1 person

    • You don’t have to go back to slavery to justify reparations for African Americans. Racist policies like Jim Crow, red lining, ect caused measurable financial harm to people who are alive now. Returning stolen wealth to the people it was stolen from is simply the right thing to do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s fine if it is indeed “stolen wealth” and can be secured through the courts. Generally that kind of thing is more prevalent and feasible in more recent times by those still alive or their immediate families who can make a specific claim. But just to say because a long dead ancestor was wronged and now you are looking for blanket restitution for that wrong 100 years or more later is not doing anything toward their memory and suffering.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Now… on the broader scale, if there is a legitimate social need to improve awareness of a minority’s contributive struggle to our nation’s growth, I see little reason to object to funding, like through academic education, to make awareness of such historic sacrifices more mainstream. But such funding should not be called “retribution”.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a shamefully ignorant piece. Bootstrapping requires one to have boots. After reparations maybe dignity can be restored with more than empty words from another wealthy white person.

    Like

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