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'America, everything is not okay.' 'Reparations' website aims to heal racial divide

A screenshot of the homepage for the Reparations website.
A screenshot of the homepage for the Reparations website.

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Sometimes, we all need a hand with what life throws at us. Maybe it's help picking the kids up from school, running some errands, or even buying an engagement ring.

Head to the Reparations website, and you'll find postings for all this and more. But Reparations is not your run-of-the-mill Craigslist site. It's a place for white people to offer help to people of color.

Reparations creator Natasha Marin says the website is not about reparations for slavery, which is something Black Lives Matter recently called for as part of their platform. Instead, Marin's website is a way for people to respond to modern-day racial turmoil in the U.S. 

Marin joined Take Two alongside UCLA history professor Brenda Stevenson, to share more about the website, and the historical view of reparations in America.


How does the site work?

Natasha Marin: "If you have privilege you can leverage, which means maybe you have a car, or a cellphone, maybe you've been to school or professionalized in some way, perhaps you have some Trader Joe's gift cards lying around or can purchase a Groupon for a massage, you can leverage your privilege to help a person of color in need. Many of us are responding to the news, and the brutality that we're being bombarded with is affecting us. Especially people of color, in the country, in the world ,we are usually bearing the bigger brunt of the burden, emotionally and physically. So folks who want to help out, instead of just sitting around bemoaning how horrible things are can absolutely do so."   

What have reparations meant historically?

Brenda Stevenson: "Reparations today, when people hear the word, people think about reparations for slavery, because that's been a big push in the society, really ever since the 19th century and before that. The whole issue of reparations is located in our sense of, that you're paid for labor. This is a national, cultural point in U.S. history that if you work, you're paid, that if you're harmed, you receive some kind of settlement for the harm that's done to you. So the notions of reparations for slavery are based on both of those kinds of things, that African descended people worked in this country, helped to build the country, helped to build the nation's economy, etc., and therefore they should have been paid for that, and since they weren't paid for that, their descendants should be paid for it." 

Is there a worry that reparations can give the impression that people are suddenly absolved?

Natasha Marin: "I think that's sort of the ongoing debate about government reparations, period. As Brenda pointed out, in 1988, people who were interned during World War II simply for being Japanese or a Japanese descendent, were given $20,000 per person by the government. Well, if you went back to those families, and you asked them, and you asked those descendants, 'How did that affect your family?' Did this check for $20,000 somehow eradicate all the pain that you've suffered, the long-lasting effects of that sort of bigotry and institutional racism?' I'm pretty sure they would say, 'No, it didn't fix it.' But if I step on your foot, I'm going to say I'm sorry, whether or not that takes away the pain. So I do think it is a complicated issue, but my project is not about all these complications. Actually it's not complicated at all, it's really simple: If you can do something, you should do something."

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