Actor Faizon Love has chimed in on the reparations debate and he’s not a fan of the recent $223,000 economists recommended be paid to each Black Californian descended from the enslaved to compensate for housing discrimination.
“F**k that. F**k that $223,000. You know what it is; that’s another trick bag. You know why? Because that money’s gonna go right back to Cadillac, right back to muthaf**kin’ Benz; f**k that,” Love said.
The $223,000 has been reported by some media as a recommendation from the historic California Reparations Task Force. However, members and reparations activists said there is a lot of misinformation in the news.
Love made his comments during an interview with DJ Vlad after Vlad said a task force member corrected his original reporting around the topic, noting the amount was one of several remedies suggested by economists they hired.
Instead of receiving reparations, Love said the way to atone for slavery would be to exempt Black people from paying taxes.
“You know what it should be? Black people should be tax exempt because when you were a slave, you were a tax write-off,” Love said. “The taxes were created to fund the Civil War.”
Vlad debated Love and said he was incorrect because taxes have always existed. Love doubled down and clarified his statement, telling Vlad to “look it up.”
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“British tax is something different. … The American tax came when they needed to fund the Civil War,” Love reiterated. After Vlad looked it up, he admitted Love was correct and agreed with Love’s suggestion that Black Americans be tax-exempt. He added he would support such a measure.
But what does the science say?
Are Black Americans wasteful? Would they spend their reparations money on frivolous material goods?
Or would reparations give descendants of the enslaved the long-overdue, authentic ‘hand-up’ they’re owed so they can fairly compete in society after hundreds of years of systematic racism and oppression?
According to a study released in 2017, Black Americans actually spend less on frivolous purchases than their white counterparts. They spend more on necessities like electricity, water and gas.
A summation of the study by The Atlantic states that low-income Black Americans spend less on things like cars and household appliances than low-income white families.
It further noted that “rich white families spend more on entertainment and groceries than rich Black families.”
The study’s author attributed the former to things like credit access but noted racism and bias likely play a role in Black households spending more on necessities that require long-term contracts.
The data was collected in 2013 and 2014 from over 9,500 households who completed the Consumer Expenditure Survey conducted by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It showed on average, spending for Black households was $8,387 compared to $13,713 for white families.
An earlier study by Yale professor and economist Kerwin Kofi Charles, Wharton finance professor Nikolai Roussanov and University of Chicago economist Erik Hurst also debunked the stereotypes surrounding conspicuous consumption by Black Americans.
In this study, researchers also used data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. At a surface level, they found Black and Hispanic Americans did spend more money on things like cars, clothes and jewelry than their white counterparts
However, when researchers delved deeper, the picture of why this occurred changed.
“If you’re a middle-class Black, it seems like in order to be perceived by whites and other Blacks as relatively well off, you have to show you have money,” Roussanov said. “You have to spend more on things that are observable.”
When they went further and subdivided demographics by race, income level and state of residence, the researchers found it was less a matter of race and more a case of peer groups as it relates to consumer consumption.
“This is not really about race in the end. It is simply about what we observe about you and what peer group you belong to,” Roussanov added.
Despite these studies, the stereotypes of the “welfare queen” and “project rich hoodlum” persist about Black Americans – even from other Black Americans.
Disgraced actor and comedian Bill Cosby, Pan-Africanist Dr. Umar Johnson and others have expressed sentiments similar to Love’s.
Washington Post finance columnist Michelle Singletary said it’s a dangerous and unfounded stereotype.
“It’s a common misconception: Black people would be wealthier if they just didn’t spend so much on clothes, sneakers and cars,” Singletary wrote in a 2020 article. “Like so many other misrepresentations when it comes to Black people and how they spend and save, stereotypes supplant substantive analysis.”
She interviewed Charles, who echoed that Black people often spent more on clothing to help them attain success.
“It’s intellectually lazy to argue that the spending differences are due to some trait of Black people, Charles said, adding what many see as Black people’s “status signaling” is due to what they have been taught: “You have to be twice as good to get half as much.”
“Your grandma probably told you, Michelle, ‘Dress very neatly and don’t go to work looking crazy,’” Charles told her.
Economist Derrick Hamilton said when you remove certain barriers to success like racist policies and the need to impress hiring managers or other gatekeepers to opportunities, the notion that Black people spend more than white people on unnecessary items because they are careless is a myth.
“I am unaware of any credible economic study published in a reputable economic journal that has demonstrated that once you control for income, White people save more than blacks,” said Hamilton said. “It is obviously the case that if you have more income, you save more, because you have more disposable income from which to save. Once you control for income, counter to popular belief, it is a myth that White people save more than Black people.”
PHOTOS: Actor Faizon Love discussed reparations with DJ Vlad. (Photo: Screenshot: YouTube @DJVlad) / Graphics (Courtesy of Canva)