In addition, the commentary offered during the 1999 Holocaust compensation fight regarding monetary payments is as appropriate to slavery reparations as it was during these negotiations when it was stated, “how to quantify this in financial terms is a difficult question… Money itself cannot bring back the dead, nor can it erase the memory of years of forced labor, but those seeking compensation say it may be the best system there is.” While no amount of money nor steps can redress the sins of slavery, such reparations with a formal national condemnation of and apology for the practice can bring justice and healing, boost the self-esteem of African Americans, reduce current racial net worth and private property ownership gaps, improve standards of life for black Americans, and provide them with new opportunities that might otherwise remain unattainable for generations to come.
Although it may be impossible to give direct compensation to most slave descendants, every effort should be made to locate and compensate those with confirmed direct lineages and to African Americans who had suffered under segregation. In addition, slavery reparations funds should contribute to black foundations, black scholarships, and black community projects aimed at improving infrastructure and standards of life, especially since precedents already exist for the latter. When Germany began Holocaust reparations payments, Bonn “funded about a third of the total investment in Israel’s electrical system… and nearly half the total investment in [Israel’s] railways, [consisting of] diesel engines, cars, tracks, and signaling equipment [along with] equipment for [agriculture, construction, expanding the country’s] water supply, for oil drilling, and for operating the [country’s] copper mines.”
Based on the examples of national corporate and government contributions to Holocaust reparations funds, it is not impractical, nor unfeasible for the governments and corporations of the United States, United Kingdom and other European states that benefited from slavery to make payments to slavery reparations funds. When the United States is considered, many of the named firms that have directly and/or indirectly benefited from slavery have sufficient assets and annual profits while the national government has millions of acres of federal land and holdings to utilize for slavery reparations.
Furthermore, the federal government could add a line underneath the “Presidential Election Campaign” section that reads “Slavery and Civil Rights Reparations – Check here if you, or your spouse if filing jointly, want $3 to go to this fund” on every federal tax return while states, especially those in the south that benefited the most from the slave trade and labor, most of which already have contribution lines for causes ranging from breast cancer research to wildlife, could also add such a line.