As we look to recalibrate the world in an equitable and historically-informed way, we see the need for structural and large-scale reparations to Black and Indigenous communities and to any individuals who have been put at a significant disadvantage due to their lineage. In addition to the money and resources that corporations and governments owe these groups, individual people who have profited from the stark inequalities in our world also have an obligation to proffer tangible support to help move the needle.
In order to figure out the magnitude and scope of your personal duty to give, you must first do the work of identifying all of the places where you have been given privileges and advantages that you did not earn. If you are a white man like myself, this will take a while. Even though you did not directly ask to be on the benefitting end of the pay gap, the recipient of inherited wealth, or the owner of stolen land, those are the facts of your existence. This is not your fault per se, but it is now your job to fix it.
Once you identify how much of what is “yours” is well, not yours, then it is time to create a plan for redistribution. I do not expect you to donate your house or put your company out of business (although some would reasonably view this as justified), but it is important to make a plan that will continually point you in the right direction. Perhaps you set up a monthly donation, vow to buy black-owned whenever possible, or start a fundraiser to multiply your own contributions.
However, you choose to give, know that these “gifts” are really not optional. Rather than markers of goodwill, the money you pay out as reparations for your privilege is simply returning what is not yours. You deserve a good life, regardless of who you are. But if who you are has stripped others of their own “good life,” then you must do your part to heal the world.
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