Nikole Hannah-Jones’s strange new case for reparations

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last year to prohibit race-based affirmative action in college admissions, some advocates for race-based social policy are opting for a new standard of eligibility for reparations and other compensation claims: one’s lineage as a descendant of slaves.

The latest example of this shift is New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, best known as the architect of The 1619 Project, which argued that the United States was established in 1619 as a white supremacist ethnostate, the year that the first Africans were brought to the English colonies.

In a sprawling 10,000-word New York Times piece that will appear in this weekend’s Sunday Magazine, Hannah-Jones concludes that “race-based affirmative action has died,” and the fight for “racial justice” must continue under a new rubric: “descendants of slavery”.

Hannah-Jones doesn’t elaborate on her proposal — it appears at the very end of her lengthy historical essay, which argues that conservatives and racists (operating as synonyms) have co-opted the concept of colour blindness to thwart racial justice.

The question of eligibility is a touchy issue, to say the least, as the switch from race to lineage would have the practical effect of excluding a growing US demographic — immigrants from Africa, South America and the Caribbean and their children — from benefitting from race-based programmes in the country. One of the longstanding frustrations of affirmative action advocates is that African Americans who desperately need a leg up are being sidelined by middle-class white women and affluent immigrants in the affirmative action spoils system. As Hannah-Jones states in her article: “At elite universities, research shows, the Black population consists disproportionately of immigrants and children of immigrants rather than students whose ancestors were enslaved here.”

Can lineage save affirmative action? That question was put to the test in 2022, when the nine-member California reparations task force decided by a narrow 5-4 margin to restrict reparations to descendants of slaves. Requiring applicants to prove their ancestry would necessitate professional genealogists, critics said, and would disqualify victims of American racism based on the accident of birth.

“All roads start with chattel slavery. That’s absolutely how we begin,” Assembly member Reginald Jones-Sawyer, who represents South Los Angeles, said in a public hearing. “The fact that we all came in, whether on a slave ship or a cruise ship — Guess what? We’re all in the same boat now.”

California is moving ahead with a variety of reparations proposals, but the state is not likely to include cash payments to the state’s estimated two million-plus African Americans as proposed in the task force’s 1,100-page report last year.

While Hannah-Jones sees wiggle room for defining eligibility, there is nothing complicated or nuanced about her view of affirmative action and reparations. Her thesis is simple: there is no such thing as a legitimate critique of affirmative action. Any critique of affirmative action is just a mask for white supremacy and white power.

Readers of her essay will be disappointed if they’re looking for reasoned responses to the strongest arguments against affirmative action. Hannah-Jones’s piece makes no acknowledgement that critics of affirmative action, DEI and reparations include African Americans, Asians and other people of colour, or that a multiracial coalition twice defeated affirmative action referendums in California.

She remains true to her fatalistic view that African Americans can’t succeed on their own, without Government assistance and special programmes. As she previously stated in The 1619 Project, there is nothing black people can do on their own to offset 400 years of racial plundering.

In her telling: “conservatives” are pulling the levers of white power to subjugate black people. “What we are witnessing, once again, is the alignment of white power against racial justice and redress.”

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

This post was originally published on this site