There can be little doubt that people of African descent have historically been shortchanged in receiving their full birthright as Americans. When the patriots avowed independence from England they declared all men have been created equal and are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (the term "pursuit of happiness" should not have replaced the previously recognized primary right detailed by John Locke, "ownership of property", but I digress). No rational person can believe Americans of African descent have been treated equally with Americans of European decent until very recently. It was not long ago at all that Blacks where discriminated against not only in the private sector, but by law. And there can be no doubt whatsoever that this systemic inequality has created deep, impactful and long-lasting hardships within Black communities and that's not even debatable. There are, sadly, countless examples it seems, but take the unfair lending practices as an example, where Blacks did not have near the access to lines of credit as Whites which made it much harder for Blacks to start business, buy homes or go to college. Fundamental inequalities like these created a cascading, snowballing effect where generation after generation of families where unable to get a solid financial footing under them, making wealth creation and then the passing down of wealth by way of inheritance almost impossible. Think about what President Trump did as a young man. He was able to stand on the shoulders of his father and build upon the momentum created by his father's wealth and, to his credit, was able to multiply it many times over. His children will, of course, be able to inherit the wealth he was able to generate and then either squander it or increase it themselves depending on the decision they make with the opportunity afforded them. The Trump's are an extreme example but think about the opportunities most of you reading this were afforded because you were able to stand on the shoulders of your parents or grandparents. This is the way it is supposed to be. It's not White privilege, it is the Biblical concept of inheritance of and expansion of wealth. Each generation is supposed to pass on their wealth and resources to the next, allowing that next generation to take off faster, fly higher and further than the previous generation did. Folks, this is how civilization was created and modern society was built. The systemic bigotry and social inequality, generation after generation, drastically stunted this natural and normal wealth creation and passing down cycle from functioning properly in the Black community. That is simply undeniable. Legalized discrimination messed the natural cycle up and "held the Black Man down". The deck was unquestionably stacked against an entire people group from the moment they were school aged, up through the time where they were of age to conduct business, to the uphill battle they had to endure in order to get the credit needed to take out home or business loans (the cornerstone of the American Dream). It wasn't long before we ended up with chronically poor (and unequally educated) second class of people trying to climb out of a hole by very unstable means, in a system rigged against them, struggling to keep their heads above water and were almost totally prevented from building any nest egg at all to pass down. This then left generation after generation of young Black kids starting at square one just like their parents started at square one. Generation after generation were all but totally stuck in the same, race-based, rut.
With all of that said, while the game was obviously rigged, it wasn't totally impossible for Black people to climb up the ladder of career and financial success. There have been highly fruitful Black Americans who were able to emerge out of that systemic trap such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and current HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, but it wasn't easy and it wasn't a fair fight. If you don't believe me, ask any of them. Ask them about the conditions they had to overcome to reach the heights of success personally and professionally they were able to reach, it's remarkable. So, no, the system never made it utterly impossible for Black Americans to get their feet under them after slavery, but it was disgracefully unequal and purposely rigged against them. The damage to that entire people group cannot be denied and any suggestion to the contrary is either woefully ignorant or perhaps rooted in lingering bigotry. For decades and decades and decades it took far more work, effort and talent for Blacks to "make it" than it did for Whites. The sort of unfair social dynamic can't go on without causing sweeping, long lasting damage...and it did. How could it not? You take an entire people group and put them in terrible schools, make it almost impossible for them to get lending to start businesses or buy homes, incentivize them to make babies out of wedlock and then put most the abortion clinics within walking distance from them and what do you think will happen?
The question we must all deal with in our day is, "what now"? Socialists in America contend Americans of African descent should be given, in one form or another, reparations by the US government to even things out. They argue that since our laws stunted the ability of generations of Black people to get their feet under themselves, the vacuum created can only be rectified by reparations. This certainly could have been a more compelling argument in the 1960's when those unjust laws first began to change and the people who benefited from discrimination where still players in the rigged game. The problem of course is that it's been a good 40 and 50 years since those discriminatory laws were in effect and an entire generation has grown into adulthood without experiencing systemic discrimination (at least nothing like previous generations did). There are countless Black doctors, lawyers, police officers, judges, politicians, teachers, business executives and even one former President of the United States who personally know NOTHING about the struggle against systemic injustices that a Justice Clarence Thomas had to deal with. To suggest any Black person 40 years old and younger deserve some sort of reparations is almost laughable, which is a good thing! It means America has made a radical shift in race relations and legal justice.
Not only do Blacks 40 years old and younger have no personal experience with the discrimination their forebearers faced, Whites 40 years old and younger have no personal experience with supporting a system of racial discrimination. The thought of holding an entire group of people down based upon their race or ethnicity is so bizarre to Gen X Whites (and younger) that they can't even comprehend the view that supported it. And don't forget that many White baby boomers marched and protested such practices while smoking pot and holding up the two fingered peace signs in their youth. You'd be very hard pressed to find any White American in mainstream society longing for the days of Jim Crow or anything resembling it.
There is simply no way to appropriate reparations without punishing people who not only had nothing to do with systemic racial inequity, but who abhor the thought of it. It's not ethical, it is not moral and it is certainly not Biblical to require children pay the debts of their parents or to be punished in any way for the sins of their forefathers.
Deuteronomy 24:16 ESV
"Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.
Ezekiel 18:19-20 ESV
"Yet you say, 'Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?' When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
The only right way to deal with the effects of systemic discrimination is to outlaw it. The ironic thing is at this point, reparations is just another form of targeted racial discrimination.
We must emphasize the powerful and equalizing social dynamic of free markets and the Rule of Law! Any people group who are unhindered to engage within a free market economic system and are shielded from repression by the Rule of Law (and the equal application of the Law) will flourish and they will flourish quickly. In fact, the gap created even by generations of complete subjugation will evaporate almost instantly once all people are truly free, and that is just one of the reasons why racists have worked so hard to make discrimination lawful! They very well knew (and still know) that if Black people were truly free to engage in free market capitalism and if the Rule of Law applied to Whites and Blacks equally, perceived White superiority would dissolve rather abruptly.
The only thing modern day White Americans owe modern day Black Americans, Native Americans, Japanese Americans and every other ethnic group in this country is equal treatment...that's it. The only thing modern day White Americans can do to correct the sins of their forgoers is to not commit those sins today and not allow them to be committed in the future. As that is achieved and maintained the inequalities and resulting socioeconomic gaps will vanish in quick fashion. These disparities and gaps will become a thing of the past, a dynamic our kids and grandkids will read about in history books.
If we decide to take wealth from Whites and distribute it to Blacks, or any other group, what our kids and grandkids will be reading about in history books will be a far different thing. They will read about how people in our day exasperated racial tensions instead of releasing them and drove people groups further away from each other just as they were on the verge of eradicating racial discrimination from society.