News & Views » Columns

Braying up the wrong tree

by

comment

News Hits feels compelled to interject a clarifying note on the hubbub surrounding Jennifer Granholm and reparations. Specifically, we take issue with the inference that she’s inevitably shucking and jiving when she talks about supporting reparations without advocating that cash be doled out to the descendants of the folks who built the country while chattel. Detroit News columnist Thomas Bray, for instance, slams Granholm for telling the NAACP a while back that she advocates reparations without interjecting her subsequent elaboration that “I’m not in favor of writing checks to people.”

That’s a flip-flop, Bray decrees, since it can be “reasonably inferred” from Granholm’s earlier statements that “she thinks cash payments might be acceptable as a way of discharging the debt supposedly owed to blacks by whites.”

Bray then goes on, with his well-honed condescension, to lampoon the implications of reparations as a latter-day Great Society program.

While News Hits could opine on Great Society programs (and preferences for that matter), we’ll limit ourselves to pointing out a fundamental flaw in Bray’s so-called reasoning.

Contrary to the columnist’s blanket assertion, the movement’s mainstream arguably favors collective, not individual, compensation. That’s the bottom line in the most widely touted pro-reparations book, Randall Robinson’s The Debt, which advocates a private trust for educational and economic empowerment of African-Americans. Similarly, historian Robin D.G. Kelley, in his recent Freedom Dreams, surveys the movement and concludes that “most plans emphasize investments in institutions rather than individual payments.”

News Hits assumes Kelley is on the money.

Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.