(Published as Op-Ed in Florida Today,  July 8, 2019.)

Several Democratic candidates for president are supporting studies to award reparation dollars to descendants of slaves. Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are among them. Various news reports have suggested the taxpayers’ tab might run anywhere from $10 billion to $100 billion. In the journal Social Science Quarterly, University of Connecticut researcher Thomas Craemer estimated that it would cost between $5.9 trillion and $14.2 trillion.

No one would argue that the era of slavery in America that ended 154 years ago was a horrific travesty. The very thought of what human beings endured at the hands of other human beings is beyond sickening. That was then, this is now. Doling out free taxpayer money to millions of people in 2019 because they happen to be distantly related to ancestors prior to 1865 sets the stage for renewed breakdowns in race relations across America.

This is like Harris or Booker saying, “You owe me millions in tax dollars because I was born black.”

The thought of how that would be divvied up, if passed, is mind-boggling. There are many blacks who had no distant slave relatives. A lot of whites, Hispanics and Asians in America have no connection to American slavery. They are products of family immigration from the late 19th century. My grandparents on both sides emigrated from Europe in the 1890s, long after slavery ended. Why should I, and millions like me, be held accountable?

And how do we arrive at arbitrary payments to blacks who claim entitlement? There are blacks whose ancestry comes from other countries, not the United States. Are they eligible? There are multi-millions of bi-racial people, many of whom predominantly Caucasian. Are they entitled to reparations? The 2010 Census declared some 9 million Americans are of mixed race. Should today’s taxpayers be penalized for the sins of southern whites of 154 years ago? What about descendants of blacks who were slave owners as well?

We better watch out for that slippery slope.

Perhaps I, and others, should seek reparations from Germans for what some of them did to Jewish relatives during the Holocaust. Better yet, we should go after those relatives of slave-mongering Egyptians from 3,000 years ago. Should Muslims and other African and Asian cultures be penalized for engaging in mass slavery over the centuries?

At age 80, I’ve lived through huge transitions in the racial dilemma, from segregated South Florida in the post-war era, then a cop on the beat, through the civil rights struggles, to a point whereby blacks hold many powerful positions including president. Corporate America has awakened. So has political America. The wealthiest of entertainment and sports figures are black. They are the new role models. Meanwhile, black unemployment numbers are at an all-time low.

Race relations today are at positive levels compared to days of yore, edging closer to that color blind society. Why embark on a hurtful and likely futile exercise that will do more to set race relations back than any time in the last 50 years?

If reparation advocates believe that pandering to a racial constituency will inflate the voter drive, they under-estimate the intelligence and integrity of the black population. My experience shows me that more and more minorities are interested in education and opportunities as opposed to receiving handouts.    

Other demographic segments could cash in on past atrocities, including women, whose role throughout past centuries was tantamount to slave status. There’s another 100 million-plus potential recipients.

The very thought of “reparations” meets the definition of the race card. In America, we don’t award or punish people for what others did more than a century past.

Let’s be honest. The political motive for supporting reparations is the same as sanctuary cities: Votes and power.


  1. Richard Plager July 8, 2019 at 9:19 am #

    I agree

  2. Christopher July 8, 2019 at 9:32 am #

    Those politicians are pandering to the ignorant.

  3. Andrea July 8, 2019 at 10:01 am #

    I enjoyed reading your column about reparations – I don’t always agree with you – but I certainly do about this – my grandparents came to the US in the 1890’s – most Americans do not have fAMILY THAT WAS HERE BEFORE 1865

  4. Don G. July 8, 2019 at 10:19 am #

    Bravo!  Another great article.  I suspect you might get some reactions to this one.  But, you are absolutely correct!

  5. Charlie July 8, 2019 at 10:26 am #

    Totally ridiculous that today’s blacks would even think about getting reparations for something none of them ever took part in.
    Just another Democratic ploy to get some votes

  6. Katie July 8, 2019 at 10:44 am #

    Let’s instead do things that raise people out of poverty (regardless of race), like fund public schools, college financial aid, job training, etc.

    • Bob in GA July 9, 2019 at 8:59 pm #

      Although I agree we should try to eliminate poverty, so much of the experiments to do that have failed. Do we not already “fund public schools?” If you live in a city, your taxes are through the roof paying for a bloated bureaucracy. If you live in a small community, your local population is likely already poor and unable to spend more on the schools. “College financial aid” was a liberal idea to provide low cost loans to pretty much anyone who wanted the money without many strings. So people graduate with degrees in photography, women’s studies, literature – where job market is basically non-existent. Or they go into law school or med school and make decent money but owe more in student loans than a new house would cost. Our public schools need to 1) raise their standards and no pass people who don’t earn the grade, and 2) provide a true education in subjects like economics and history AS WELL AS offer classes in the trades like mechanics, plumbing as well as IT and health care.

    • michael j wilson July 10, 2019 at 11:23 am #

      more job training — blue collar jobs are where the money is at — liberal arts is not !!!! try finding a plumber = today — those who take the test and pass make good money !!! Welders = we need many of them!!!

  7. Jan Siren July 8, 2019 at 11:10 am #

    In principle, “reparations” should only be paid by those directly responsible, and to those directly, adversely affected. If decades of time have passed, generations even, the issue of fairness arises and cannot be quickly dismissed. If we invest adequately in our childrens; education, so that “never again” becomes a reality, perhaps we have done enough.

  8. Art Martin July 8, 2019 at 11:22 am #

    I don’t own any slaves. My parents didn’t own any slaves. Two sets of grandparents who emigrated from Portugal didn’t own any slaves. African Americans and any other whining offended group should quit whining, get a damn job and contribute something or simply GTFO. I’m still waiting for Samuel Jackson to keep his promise he made if Trump was elected to “Take my black ass back to South Africa.” Time for an executive order revoking citizenship of malcontents!

  9. Blaine Keller July 8, 2019 at 12:03 pm #

    “Doling our FREE tax payer money” continues the misuse of the word free in conjunction with taxes. Otherwise, your comments are spot on. Once in the midst of a similar discussion I asked if they (reparation advocates) would prefer reparations or the end of racial injustice. Suddenly the conversation was over. To me that spoke volumes.

  10. Jose July 8, 2019 at 12:14 pm #

    I totally agree with you. It’s all about votes and power. On that subject, how about writing an article on the problem of Gerrymandering and how it’s used to promote and maintain power.

  11. Rico July 8, 2019 at 12:52 pm #

    What I surmise from the stupidity on the left, is every time they come up with far left ideas they offend most of the electorate! If they keep it up with open borders, sanctuary cities, guaranteed income, free health care to illegals, and reparations they will lose badly in 2020, and the supreme court may become even more conservative!

  12. Gerald A Rudoff July 8, 2019 at 2:29 pm #

    Looks like you hit a positive nerve with some of your readers. I’m wondering what some of our Black friends and colleagues would have to opin on this issue. These would be folks whose professional LE careers were pretty parallel to ours. A couple of other options that you didn’t mention.. What about a REAL African that is now an African American…born in Africa of course. Where would they stand? And one more situation which is most relevant to me. Just recently did one of those DNA tests as to my origins and heritage. Yes, like you and many others my grandparents on both side can to the US from Eastern Europe in the latter 1800’s… but even more startling to me was the fact that my test showed that I have a percentage of African and Asian DNA..So there you have it… Save a place for me on the REPARATION list!

    • Anonymous July 9, 2019 at 11:37 pm #

      Good reply.
      I also did the DNA test but came up 100% Eastern European Jewish….and I always wanted to be American Indian!

  13. Tom July 8, 2019 at 3:17 pm #

    What about the Muslims that went into the jungles of Africa and captured the negroes and sold them to the slave traders to be shipped to the Americas and other countries? That was Big Business for them. Should they be forced to pay reparations also? As a matter of fact, the Arabic word for “black” and “slave” are the SAME WORD.
    And what about the black tribes that captured other black tribe members to be sold to the slave traders? This “black reparations” idea could get a little bit complicated!

  14. Anonymous July 8, 2019 at 4:28 pm #

    I think it is ridiculous. What is happening to America??
    Have a good day
    Linda r. nelms

  15. Joseph Pesce July 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm #

    Harris and Booker should be thrown in jail. They are anti American filthy animals that stir up hatred amongst all peoples.

    They should be investigated for all the corruption they have committed over the years.

    • Jose July 10, 2019 at 1:48 pm #

      I’m confused here. What crimes have Booker and Harris committed?

  16. Eileen July 9, 2019 at 3:41 pm #


  17. Ron July 9, 2019 at 8:05 pm #

    just two more idiots trying to buy votes.They do not really give a rats ass about the black community except to try and buy their votes.hopefully the black community sees through their crap and lies.

  18. Anonymous July 9, 2019 at 11:30 pm #

    Fantastic analysis.

  19. Anthony July 10, 2019 at 8:15 am #

    The Republican’s are far more effective in passing laws surpressing the Black vote than the Democrat’s are in pushing reparations. There is no way to pay for all the attrocities we committed and still are commiting, starting with what we did to Native American’s.
    Reparation should have been paid by the South after they committed treason and lost the war. The North was far to forgiving.

  20. Kent Williams July 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm #

    This is another deal like the so-called “affirmative action” fiasco, only worse. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  21. Tom July 11, 2019 at 4:14 pm #

    Everything is an opinon. I have one, you have one, the neighbor has one…we all have one. I think that we need to stop in our tracks, look around and admire the beauty that we have in this country. When I was a kid 80 years ago, everything was beautiful; the trees, the grass, the huge onion fields I used to get paid 10 cents row to weed, the stable down the street…all of the wonderful things God put here for us to enjoy…now the opinion.
    Carl Sandburg said, “The past is a bucket of ashes.” Somewhat in agreement with him I say that it is time to forget the ashes because they are indistinguishable from the ground where they were laid. We can no more identify those families from the slave era than we can identify which rock was first thrown to skim the water. There are too many politicians and not enough leaders.
    My suggestion is “put your money where your mouth is,” and I direct that to those that are advocating spending our tax money on an unreasonable hope for votes for them, and taking advantage of a small group of people who believe money does indeed grow on trees.

  22. Bob James July 11, 2019 at 4:22 pm #

    Marshall’s OP-ED arguing that paying reparations would set race relations back gives several examples of how doing something like this borders on the impossible. He is correct on that account. However, I don’t think it would set race relations back any farther as I do not see how they could be any worse than they are right now.

    The payment of reparations to Negroes for past grievances should not be considered just a one-way street, for it is a street that runs in both directions. The Negroes argue they are owed collectively billions and billions of dollars for slavery that occurred in white America but ended over 150 years ago.

    In the interest of fairness, how about some reparations for white Americans for current expenses caused by Negroes? Like having to rebuild my hometown of Miami for burning, looting and destroying a significant portion of it. Not to mention expenses incurred in the sacking, burning and looting of buildings and businesses in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Watts, Baltimore, Newark, Detroit, St. Louis, Ferguson, Washington, DC, etc. How about paying back some of the trillions spent for decades of cradle-to-grave welfare programs, 100’s of public housing projects, medical care facilities. How about the costs of lowering standards in just about every thing for the benefit of Negroes?

    People who pay the bills are getting real sick and tired of this malignant racial shake-down game. The blinding fear of being called a racist has kept too many people from standing up for their rights and saying we have had enough of this race-baiting crap.

  23. Alan July 12, 2019 at 11:04 am #

    Marshall, as you write:
    This is like Harris or Booker saying, “You owe me millions in tax dollars because I was born black.”

    I would say:
    This is like me saying to the Black community that they owe me millions in the tax dollars paid by Blacks because it was my “white” ancestors who freed the Black American slaves.

  24. Stuart Gollinger July 12, 2019 at 8:58 pm #

    We enjoyed your Commentary in our local St. Lucie Tribune Newspaper (part of USA Today ) on the issue of reparations.
    We agree 100% with your viewpoint, that reparations now would create more problems than it would help. Unfortunately, most of the
    Democratic candidates now running for POTUS who favor reparations see the issue merely as a political expedient to gain the black vote,
    rather than treat the issue properly as a non–partisan, non-political one. In our view, any amount of reparations approved by a future
    Congress should stay away from the hornet’s nest of deciding who qualifies? USA has many more problems to solve than deciding this issue
    now in the 21st Century.

    Instead, we think an appropriate amount should be allotted from the federal budget annually and donated to the Historically Black Colleges
    and Universities Foundation, The HBCU Foundation, to help current and future generations of black men and women who wish to take advantage
    of their opportunities to gain an education for the betterment of their entire race that was previously comprised of so many former slaves.

    Thank you.

    Stuart Gollinger

  25. Helen R. Frigo July 13, 2019 at 10:05 am #

    Marshall’s certainly right. As John Lennon said, “We’d all love to see the plans…” for how Reparations could be paid out. We gave up watching TV because, let’s face it, conflict raises ratings, and so do ads every 10 minutes. But FL Repubs have yet to explain why they haven’t accepted money from the Federal treasury, where everybody’s income taxes go, to expand Medicaid to 164,000 Floridians. When it would make all FL children safer, and cost all of us less money, if those who now use the Emergency room for health care, went to a healthcare provider regularly. If you read the Luckhardt’s history of “Indiantown”, that was “Big Government” paying for 3 armies to remove the Seminoles, and then hand out land, dig canals, build dams, etc. for white immigrants. 33,000 slaves in FL like handed over their wages to their owner, and/or created capital when they, or their children, were rented out, or sold. 2 million slaves in the 1820’s were worth more than $1 Billion to their owners.