What South Africa Can Teach the U.S. About Reparations

Reparations can work, but only if we start telling the truth about racism and slavery. Americans can learn from South Africa, which over two decades ago undertook a national, public truth-telling initiative — the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) — to address its long history of institutionalized racism. That initiative was a necessary first step in the country’s process of healing and rebuilding relationships, rooted in a shared past. Black South Africans also gained something from these public hearings, broadcast nationally on television. For many of them, this was finally an acknowledgment of the daily horrors that they were subject to during apartheid. With testimony from 21,000 victims, the 2,000 public hearings and 7,112 amnesty applications made it difficult to cling to denialism because a collective narrative of a racist past began to emerge. The hearings forced South Africans to confront the horrors of their past. In the United States today, matters of race, racism and racial inequalities no longer remain tensions under the surface. We must openly air the many shameful truths about America’s racist past, so that future generations will remember us as the generation that took action to craft a new founding story where all Americans are included.SOURCE: THE WASHINGTON POST

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