Braying up the wrong tree

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.

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