Allie Beth Stuckey is an American conservative commentator and author who hosts a podcast titled, “Relatable with Allie Beth Stuckey.” Stuckey claims that her podcast analyzes culture, news and politics from a biblical perspective.
On March 14, 2022, Stuckey interviewed Jason D. Hill, a philosophy Professor at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. Professor Hill recently published a book titled, “What do White Americans Owe Black People: Racial Justice in the Age of Post-Oppression.”
A number of issues relating to Black Americans and race relations were discussed in Stuckey’s interview with Professor Hill. In this blog series, I share my thoughts on some of the statements that were made specifically in reference to reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery.
It is clear from the interview that both Stuckey and Professor Hill are opposed to reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery. My concern is that Stuckey and Hill (along with other conservative commentators, authors, speakers, and pundits) are misleading and misinforming their conservative audiences by misrepresenting the definition, purpose, and legal arguments for reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery.
To date, I have not heard one conservative influencer (Black or White) give an accurate presentation of reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery. Instead, I have only heard straw man fallacies, deflections, gaslighting, Scripture-twisting, and off-topic conservative talking points, all of which amount to political propaganda.
As I share my thoughts on this interview, I hope to provide a few examples of how conservative influencers prop up false arguments against reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery, promulgate their misrepresentation of reparations throughout the conservative movement, and rally their conservative audiences against a righteous cause, thereby hindering biblical justice.
Before I dig into the interview, I would like to make it clear that I’m an independent conservative and a traditional Christian (“What I Believe” can be found here). I’m not a Democrat, a liberal, a socialist, a Marxist, a Communist, a progressive leftist, or anywhere on the left-wing political spectrum.
Am I a proponent of Critical Theory? No. Although many proponents of Critical Theory support reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery, not everyone who supports reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery is a proponent of Critical Theory (my position on Critical Theory is practically the same as Kelly Hamren’s. You can read Hamren’s position here).
Americans all across the political spectrum may support or be opposed to a certain idea, value, policy, agenda, piece of legislation, or cause–but for different reasons, for different motivations, and based upon different worldviews. For example, both secular feminists and Christian conservatives are staunchly opposed to transgender ideology and transgender activism, but for different reasons and based upon very different worldviews.
The same can be said for those who support reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery. Some support it based on a secular philosophical framework such as Critical Theory or Marxism. Others support it based on a spiritual or theological framework such as the Old and New Testament Scriptures. I fall into the latter category.
I believe that if more believers, especially conservative Christians, had a clearer understanding of reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery, more of them would support it. But unfortunately, the conservative influencers that they look to for news commentary, entertainment, serious scholarship, and academic and political analysis, are feeding them misinformation.
To begin clearing away some of the misinformation, we must start by defining the term “reparation.”
The term “reparation” is defined as: “a repairing, keeping in repair, the act of making amends, offering expiation, giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury, the payment of damages, indemnification.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). A reparation is a payment or compensation for harm, loss, or damage that has been caused to a person or organization.
It’s important for us to know the definition of the term “reparation” because many conservatives commit the error of referring to things that aren’t reparations, as reparations. Once you know the definition of the term “reparation,” it becomes easier to identify when conservatives are committing this error.
Let’s take a look at one example of this common error.
Welfare isn’t Reparations
Some conservatives incorrectly refer to welfare programs (such as Section 8, medicaid, SNAP/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, WIC/Women Infants and Children, and TANF/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) as reparations, in order to make the false argument that Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery are not owed reparations because they have already received billions of dollars in government assistance.
In order for this argument to make even a modicum of sense, one must suspend logic and critical thought, ignore that welfare and reparations have two different definitions and two different purposes, ignore the history of racial discrimination in welfare programs, and ignore that not every Black American descendant of U.S. chattel slavery has received government assistance.
By definition, welfare and reparations are two completely different things. Welfare is a social effort to provide aid (in the form of money or other necessities, through various programs and government agencies) to those who are in need and qualify by meeting certain requirements. Reparations on the other hand, are compensation for harm, loss, damage and injury.
Welfare is a form of charity for anyone of any ethnicity who meets certain requirements, namely income requirements. Reparations are not charity. Reparations are restitution and redress for a specific people (in this case, Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery) who suffered harm due to specific acts of oppression and discrimination at the hands of specific guilty parties (the U.S. government, private entities, and certain wealthy families).
Welfare is not a debt, restitution, redress, or compensation that the U.S. government or tax-payers owe needy Americans. Welfare is a mercy, not an entitlement. Reparations, however, are a debt that the U.S. government owes Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery for economic loss, damages, and injury.
Conservatives who incorrectly refer to welfare as reparations are ignoring the history of racial discrimination in welfare policy and welfare programs. Since the very inception of welfare in the United States, discriminatory rules were written into welfare policies which excluded Black women, Black children, and Black men from receiving much-needed economic relief.
For example, in the early 1900’s, state legislatures passed “Mothers’ Pension” bills that supported single mothers. Even though Black women were in deeper poverty than White women, the Mothers’ Pension bills were written in such a way that the aid was was given almost exclusively to White women. Mothers’ Pensions were administered locally, which created leeway for local legislators to write requirements that excluded Black women and showed preference to White women.
One such requirement said that a mother had to maintain a “suitable home” for her children. However, the meaning of the term “suitable” was obscure, subjective, and left open to personal interpretation, which resulted in this term being used in a racist manner and Black women being excluded from Mothers’ Pensions due to negative racist stereotypes (that Black women are unfit mothers, of poor character, and do not provide “suitable” homes for their children).
For another example of racially discriminatory practices in welfare programs, in 1935, Congress approved of financial support for widows of retired workers and their children under the Old-Age Insurance Provisions Act. The purpose of this welfare program was to help eliminate old-age poverty. The problem with it was that the majority of the professions covered in the act were jobs held by White people, while the jobs mostly held by Black Americans (domestic work, seasonal labor, and farm labor) were excluded.
Unlike other welfare programs, the Old-Age Insurance Provisions Act did not subject White women to income-requirements, subjective character/morality tests, “suitable” home policies, intrusive/humiliating/and demeaning home inspections, or compulsory work requirements.
There are more examples of how racial discrimination was craftily embedded into welfare policies and welfare programs, in order to exclude Black people from receiving much-needed economic relief, or administer substantially less funds to Black welfare recipients than White welfare recipients. While welfare policies did not generally include overtly racist language (i.e., “don’t help Black people”), they did include rules and requirements that conveniently, by design, excluded Black people and economically benefited and uplifted White people.
Let’s say for example that the U.S. government creates a welfare program to help single parents buy their own home, but the policy includes a requirement that recipients must live in a certain zip code which just so happens to be a predominantly White area. Meanwhile, the zip codes nearby just so happen to be predominantly Black areas with single parents who are deeper in poverty than the White single parents in the qualifying zip code.
If a welfare program is allegedly designed to uplift poor families out of poverty, then why would it include requirements that disqualify the poorest families. . . many of whom just so happen to be Black, and almost solely benefit and uplift White families?
My example might not be the best, but it serves as an illustration of how racist policymakers have embedded their own racial biases, supremacist beliefs, prejudices, and bigotry into governmental systems via welfare policies and programs (hence the phrase “systemic racism”). As such, we should find it as no surprise that there is some data which shows that U.S. welfare policies uplifted the White middle-class, not Black Americans.
Considering that welfare reform was influenced by White supremacy and racism, and resulted in unequal treatment and a racially discriminatory distribution of welfare benefits…this makes it all the more preposterous for conservatives to claim that welfare received by Black Americans should be considered reparations.
It should go without saying that reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery, by definition and purpose, would not result in the unequal treatment or racial discrimination of that very same group. Reparations do not involve unequal treatment, racial discrimination, oppression, or withholding economic relief from the injured party. Yet, objective historical facts demonstrate that welfare policies and programs in the United States have indeed involved racial discrimination towards Black Americans.
The bottom line here is that welfare isn’t reparations, and no Bible-quoting Jesus-professing conservative in their right mind should be running around the internet, the conservative movement, sitting on panel discussions, or sitting on Fox News, Prager University, The Blaze, or any other conservative platform making this absurd argument that welfare received by Black Americans should be considered reparations, therefore the U.S. government doesn’t owe Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery reparations.
Furthermore, even if some conservatives want to make the ridiculous claim that welfare is reparations, millions of Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery have never received government assistance. So, even if we take that fallacy to its logical conclusion, the U.S. government would still owe millions of Black Americans who never received government assistance reparations.
In the next article, I will provide a brief summary of the legal case for reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery. Many conservatives are acutely unaware of the history of systemic racism in the United States and the devastating economic impact of racial discrimination on Black American descendants of U.S. chattel slavery.
This lack of historical knowledge has created a massive blind spot in conservatism and the conservative evangelical church. As a result, the average conservative doesn’t understand why reparations are necessary, and that reparations are consistent with conservative values and Biblical teaching.
But for now, just know that welfare (government assistance) isn’t reparations, and anyone who says that “Black people aren’t owed reparations because they’ve already received welfare” is making a horribly false argument.
Food stamps aren’t reparations.
WIC isn’t reparations.
Section 8 isn’t reparations.
TANF isn’t reparations.
Medicaid isn’t reparations.
Obamacare isn’t reparations.
Subsidized childcare isn’t reparations.
Stay tuned for part 2.