New reporting from NBC’s investigative team contained some unwelcome news for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the wake of his recent disastrous remarks about reparations in which he claimed that the election of Barack Obama solved racism in America once and for all — a seemingly common sentiment among old white Republicans.
During those remarks, McConnell dismissed the idea of paying reparations to African-Americans over slavery — an idea that once was widely rejected, but which is now being considered as a major platform position for even some Democrats running for the 2020 nomination. Reparations are the idea not that we just “pay someone back” in cash for their ancestors being hurt by slavery; that would be ludicrous. Instead, reparations deal with the fact that it wasn’t just labor stolen from slaves.
White slave owners not only developed generational wealth on the backs of slaves — in cotton, tobacco, and other plantation labor — that they would never have had without those slaves, but simultaneously stole generational wealth from the black families they owned some or all of: If those slaves weren’t busy breaking their backs for their owners, surely they would have been working as hard for themselves and earning the money that instead went to lazy white slaveholders.
And “generational” means just that — wealth held by those with a lot of it grows exponentially, so whites didn’t just benefit at the point of selling the cotton that cost them nothing to harvest, that money turned into more land, larger fields, and inheritances for their descendants. The reverse is true for the enslaved: They didn’t just lose out on wages, they lost out on building any income or savings or anything to pass on.
As it turns out, Mitch McConnell’s family was among those slaveholders who built their generational wealth through slavery. McConnell’s personal net worth is more than ten million dollars — that’s without the added numbers from his wife Elaine Chao’s massive inheritance — an amount that is in no way accounted for by “meager” Senate wages or the lackluster sales of his book.
The ancestral reporting on McConnell’s great-great-grandfathers, who owned 14 slaves between them, mostly women, is thorough. If only McConnell’s expiation for their theft of lives and wealth could be as complete.
Featured image is a screen capture.
Like what you see here? Join the discussion on Facebook over at Stop The Crazy!