It’s 2021 and we’ve gone through waves of social reform in the shape of racial equality and human rights free from discrimination, but there is still room for improvement. The world was created equal, but unfortunately social and economic class continues to separate us from achieving unity. Some of us are victims of consequences that were forced upon us, whether political or sociological and there is no escaping from the unfairness that governs the world.
Robert K Bratt is one of the many individuals who name themselves allies to individuals who haven’t the same opportunities and platform to fight against oppression. A reparations officer, he sought to offer some comfort to Japanese and Japanese-Americans who suffered the fallout from the second World War. He wrote personal letters to the living heirs and survivors of the war who were still alive on the 19th of August, 1989,, when the bill for reformation was formed. Robert K Bratt fought for those who are interned during the war, and for those who were forced to relocate after the war, following racial discrimination and political moves in order to appease American citizens.
This act was both applauded and criticized, for it is argued that African-Americans are much more deserving of receiving reparations from America due to their treatment over centuries. However, as noted by Rhoda E. Howard-Hassman, a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, it isn’t simple to dole out reparations to a whole ethnic group for the treatment of their ancestors. For reparations to take place, it would have to meet a few requirements of which African-Americans did not qualify for, such as official reports, a record of perpetrators, and a relatively small pool of victims.
While it might be easy to identify perpetrators, it isn’t easy to convince them to make reparations because it was well within their rights during that time period, to enslave and cause bodily harm. It isn’t the same as victims of war, in which the government is held liable.
When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the nation had reason to fear the Japanese nationals or those of Japanese descent in America. It was this fear that led America to intern citizens of Japanese descent, but they learnt from their mistakes and have decided that they needed to offer reparations to those lives which they have disrupted. Led by Robert K Bratt, it wasn’t an easy task considering that there were more than eighty two thousand survivors who would be receiving an official apology, paired with $20,000 USD.
His efforts haven’t been in vain, and those Japanese Americans who have received their redress from the U.S government are now fighting for their Black brothers and sisters. Winning redress was just a step forward for those who have been racially discriminated against due to the color of their skin. But it goes to show how one small pebble can cause a ripple effect, rippling through the ages and ever-reaching for social justice, all thanks to the efforts of one called Robert K Bratt, without whom, today’s efforts would not be as insistent or loud.