This essay by Eric Scott is part of the May 16, 2017 cover story, "A Place of Sanctuary."
In Charleston, law enforcement fills black citizens’ hearts with fright. Jobs here do not pay enough for the people to live. The schools have basically been segregated, not by law but by wealth; the poor kids go to horrid, low income schools, while the wealthy kids go to great schools and can see their future crystal clear. There aren’t enough shelters for the homeless, only tents under a bridge. Thirty-one percent of black people are impoverished in the county of Charleston but only 12.3 percent of white Charlestonians are impoverished. All of these problems will only manifest if we don’t take care of them now. We need a significant solution.
Here in Charleston, black people’s neighborhoods are being swept from right under their feet due to gentrification, swarms of police are flooding black neighborhoods looking for black males to beat on to show that they are dominant, and the police are protected only because of their badges and their white skin. In addition, in black communities self-hate is rampant. For example, black girls are taught to hate their own natural hair. Self-hate runs so deep in black communities that I believe schools should be teaching things like Malcolm X’s famous speech “Who taught you to hate yourself?”
In order to address all of these problems, Charleston needs reparations. I agree with the Movement for Black Lives Policy Platform which states that black people are overdue for reparations for all of the unjust things the U.S. government has done to the black community, and here’s why:
Today, Charleston is a very unsafe place for the black community, but one thing we do have is a spirit of resistance.
Every single time white supremacists thought they broke down the black community, we’ve just gotten right back up and fought even harder. We don’t get discouraged by the fact that America was designed to hold us down. For example, in 2015, not only the black community, but some of the white community came together to stand against racism in the March for Black Lives.
- Ruta Elvikyte
- North Charleston High student Eric Scott
White supremacy, which is a system of exploitation and oppression of people of color by white people for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege, is the foundation of America. This country was built on the backs of black men and women, brick by brick; we made this country what it is today. Despite all of the work we’ve done, our brilliance has been obscured by white supremacy. Today the names on our streets are the names of slave owners and racists like John C. Calhoun, not the names of the black people who built our city. Another example of white supremacy is how the media showed sympathy to Dylann Roof after he murdered the nine attendants of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, even though they do not show the same sympathy to young black men who are murdered by police. In addition, white people in Charleston are often very colorblind, which is a term white supremacists like to use. Colorblind people claim there isn’t systemic and institutionalized racism forced upon people of color, and that we are already equal. One example of colorblindness in Charleston is people’s tendency to talk about unity and equality without making actual change. White supremacy is seriously affecting the black community in Charleston, and we all need to disassemble it now.
If the black community were to get reparations, it would cripple AmeriKKKa and white supremacy. The majority of black people living in the Charleston area are descendants of the Gullah-Geechee people, who have been pushed off their land. These people deserve their land back.
If we were given the reparations we’re due, we would no longer need to depend on the government’s aid, there would be less homeless people of our community, black businesses would boom and manifest, then our money would circulate to build wealth for all of us. The government should give back the land that the black people once owned. Everyday citizens like you can help by giving money to black schools and investing in black communities. Together we can end white supremacy.
Eric Scott, a 10th-grader at North Charleston High School, is a proud Haitian-American. His dream is to be a stockbroker, like his mother’s longtime partner, who has achieved many things through hard work and dedication. In addition, Eric is inspired by the work of Malcolm X and hopes to make change happen for African Americans in his lifetime. He’s also a feminist, communist, social theorist, and all-around athlete.