In an interview with Ana Marie Cox in the New York Times Magazine, Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson asserted that each white person should open up an “Individual Reparations Account” in order to make donations to black people and black institutions. Dyson is making this proposal in his yet-to-be-published book, “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America.”
Ana Marie Cox
Here follows the exchange between Cox and Dyson:
Cox: At the end of your sermon, you do a “benediction” section, in which you talk about making reparations on the local and individual level: donating to groups like the United Negro College Fund or a scholarship program, but also, to cite your example from the book, paying “the black person who cuts your grass double what you might ordinarily pay.” That gave me pause!
Dyson: Good! I used to say in church, “If the sermon ain’t making you a little bit uncomfortable, it ain’t effective.” Look, if it doesn’t cost you anything, you’re not really engaging in change; you’re engaging in convenience. You’re engaged in the overflow. I’m asking you to do stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily do. I’m asking you to think more seriously and strategically about why you possess what you possess.
Cox: I agree with reparations, but maybe this is my white privilege speaking: I can’t imagine actually doing that.
Dyson: That is what I meant by an I.R.A.: an individual reparations account. You ain’t got to ask the government, you don’t have to ask your local politician — this is what you, an individual, conscientious, “woke” citizen can do.
Cox: But charity can’t be the end of it, right? The Koch brothers gave the United Negro College Fund $25 million, but I doubt you would consider them “woke.”
Dyson: No. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that charity is a poor substitute for justice. But I ain’t turning $25 million down.
Cox is a senior political correspondent for MTV News and a contributor to the Daily Beast. Dyson teaches sociology at Georgetown University, and has taught religion and African-American culture at other prestigious institutions. He is Baptist minister.
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