The question of how to make up for hundreds of years of stolen labor from and economic discrimination against Black Americans has been hotly debated for years. When racial disparities can be traced directly to laws, policies and regulations that prevented Black people from earning or accumulating wealth generation after generation, the only just thing to do is to try to repair the damage.

Enter the idea of reparations, which literally means "to repair" through financial or other means.

Asheville, North Carolina has just taken a big step forward with this idea by unanimously approving a resolution designed to repair the racial disparity among its residents. In a 7-0 vote, the city council apologized for the city's role in historic wrongs against Black people, including slavery and discrimination. It also announced that it will make reparations in the form of investments in the lives of Black people living in Asheville, who make up nearly 12 percent of the city's population.


"The resulting budgetary and programmatic priorities may include but not be limited to increasing minority home ownership and access to other affordable housing, increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the gaps in health care, education, employment and pay, neighborhood safety and fairness within criminal justice," the resolution states.



Councilman Keith Young, one of two Black members of the council, said, "Hundreds of years of Black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today," according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. "It is simply not enough to remove statutes," he added. "Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature."

The measure does not specify making direct reparation payments to Black residents, but rather putting more of the city's resources into eliminating racial disparities. Councilman Vijay Kapoor said he voted in favor of the measure for moral reasons, but also referred to the "practical reason," which is that data shows large gaps between Black Asheville residents and other residents of the city.

"We don't want to be held back by these gaps," Kapoor said. "We want everyone to be successful."

Some will undoubtedly ask the question, "Why should people today, who have never owned slaves, pay reparations to people who have never been enslaved themselves?" But that question ignores two things: 1) The deep and ongoing economic impact slavery had on generations of families, and 2) Reparations aren't just about slavery, but also the century-and-a-half of ongoing discriminatory laws and practices designed to keep Black Americans economically oppressed that followed emancipation.

The question of how to manage reparations is a legitimate one, but there should be no doubt that some kind of reparations are in order. If you're still unsure of why, check out Kimberly Latrice Jones' excellent Monopoly metaphor, Trevor Noah's explanation of why poor white people can't h the same argument for reparations, and this video from Ta-Nehisi Coates beautifully testifying to Congress on why reparations are a perfectly reasonable expectation for Black citizens, considering the inheritance of our nation:

WATCH: Ta-Nehisi Coates' full opening statement on reparations at House hearing www.youtube.com

Thank you, Asheville, for taking this step toward economic justice, to help repair the damage done throughout U.S. history. If we truly want to be the country we say we are, where all people have the same access to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," we have to honestly address the past wrongs that prevented certain groups from those inalienable rights and make amends to the citizens who have been negatively impacted by those wrongs for generations.

I'll say this up front so that there's zero confusion: Child sex trafficking is real, it's heinous, and it's been going on for a long time. Everyone who buys or sells a child or partakes in harming a child in any way should be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law. There is no place in civil society for people who sexually abuse children or who profit off of the abuse of children. Full stop. No question.

But we have careened into some twisted waters in our social discourse around child sex trafficking, to the point where the real issue of is being conflated with outrageous conspiracy theories that deflect from the real work being done to save children, put innocent people in harm's way, and interfere with the integrity of our elections.

I wrote about this issue recently and was met with accusations of being paid off by powerful pedophiles (ugh, seriously?), a flood of people saying "No, you're wrong!" while offering zero evidence, and a bunch of YouTube and Facebook videos that people seem to think are credible sources. I got fake screenshots of supposed Wikileaks emails that aren't actually on Wikileaks when you search for them. I got people who only listen to fringe outlets that have no oversight or accountability claiming that my well-cited, real news sources were a part of the whole conspiracy. All of that stuff I could ignore. Whackadoodles are gonna whackadoodle no matter how many facts you throw at them.

But I also got a few people sharing a list of nearly 100 politicians and other powerful people who have been convicted of child sex crimes. That was different, because it was factual.

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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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Forrest Galante will never forget the first time he ever saw a shark in person. "I was 7 or 8 years old and was snorkeling with my grandfather," the outdoor adventure TV personality told Upworthy. "We were in Mozambique where I grew up and I was holding my grandfather's hand underwater as he guided me. It was a small reef shark. What seemed like this huge animal appeared out of nowhere, racing through the darkness and suddenly I was looking into its beautiful eyes. I was in awe but I also think I grabbed my granddad's hand just a little bit tighter."

25 years later, Galante, is a world-renowned conversation activist who hosts the Extinct or Alive program on Animal Planet. He has interacted with some of the planet's most intriguing and intimidating creatures but it's hard to think of a living creature that has more powerfully captured our collective imagination than sharks.

This year, Galante is hosting his schedule special as part of the legendary Shark Week series. In tonight's episode, Galante travels to the northeast coast of South Africa, the "Land of the Lost Sharks," where he looks to find the Pondicherry, a species of shark believed to have gone extinct decades ago.


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