Q: Can you possibly shed some light on "reparation"? I am hearing so many comments like these:

  • Many in most countries have been marginalized in one way or another—although that doesn’t make it right. You can never fix the past; you can create a better future.
  • Many groups are demanding reparation. The list includes Native Americans to descendant of slaves, those abused by church clerics to underpaid females, individuals who were incarcerated improperly to Hollywood actors who were pressured to “sleep their way” to a role.
  • Where is the money going to come from? Collapsing a country financially leaves no future for the next generation. Some countries abroad sold their own people into slavery in exchange for guns. That doesn’t make it right. Are those countries being asked for reparation? There does need to be everyone acting together to make equality a reality, however, perhaps half or more of the people in America had nothing to do with causing the inequalities many groups are identifying. They came to America to avoid the inequalities in their own countries.

A: I wish I had a brilliant answer for you. From what I know of history, change rarely starts from the top. Like so many changes in the past, a calm deliberate, grass-roots movement has seemed to be the most effective and long-lasting. (Finally allowing women to vote, for example.) What I can do—as an immigrant from generations of abject poverty to “The land of the free”—is to make sure that in any relationships I have or in any dealings where I have a voice, to push for genuine equality. For example, I try never to purchase from companies or organizations that I understand allow inequality In a country like America, voting for candidates who truly believe in and will pass legislation related to equality is likely the only way things will change on a national level.

Make no mistake, this is stressful for everyone: for those who have a history of disenfranchisement and for those who had nothing to do with that nor did their ancestors. This cannot be a one-size fits all because one size never fits all. Plus, in my brain’s opinion, simply handing out money may assuage someone’s conscience, but it does nothing to guarantee that the next generation will grow up and mature in an environment of equality.