Skip to comments.Debatable: Should blacks receive reparations for past slavery?
Posted on 02/15/2004 6:33:00 AM PST by schaketo
Should blacks in America receive reparations for slavery? That's the issue Professor Manning Marable will address Wednesday at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Marable is a history professor at Columbia University of New York and director of its Institute for Research in African-American Studies.
Marable believes that every black family in the United States should receive reparations, which he calls "compensatory justice," for losses their ancestors sustained as the result of slavery.
He says fair compensation for African Americans would involve a "civic restitution fund" and reparations would not come in the form of direct cash payments, but rather the use of tax money to fund social services for black Americans and scholarships for African-American students and historically black colleges.
Marable concedes that white Americans today are not guilty of enslaving anyone. However, they are the beneficiaries of racism, and as such they have a moral and political responsibility to bear its burden. The historical justifications for providing compensation to the American descendants of black slaves can be traced to the period immediately following the Civil War. The compensation that was promised to ex-slaves was never delivered. They never received their 40 acres and a mule.
African-American historian John Hope Franklin wrote, "Most living Americans do have a connection with slavery. They have inherited the preferential advantage, if they are white, or the loathsome disadvantage, if they are Black; and those positions are virtually as alive today as they were in the 19th century."
Marable points to the Holocaust lawsuits and the restitution Japanese-Americans received as a result of their internment in World War II as models for reparations.
However, people opposed to reparations say America
wasn't solely responsible for slavery nor did it invent slavery. They also say slavery didn't create the socioeconomic gap between blacks and whites.
Attempts have been made to bridge the gap, says Lindsey Scherer, founder of the conservative Web site, "The Right View: Nothing but right." Scherer says the United States has attempted to close the gap "by creating welfare programs, `cultural approaches to education,' and affirmative-action programs, just to name a few, and the end result has only been a decrease in the incentive to work, stigmatized learning, and a decrease in the incentive to excel in the truly bright and talented."
Anti-reparationists also say correlations can't be drawn between Japanese-American and African-American demands for reparations.
Scherer says Japanese Americans suffered direct financial losses because they were interned in concentration camps and couldn't work. Japanese-American internment was different from slavery in the sense that the descendants of the slaves didn't lose money directly because of their ancestors' enslavement, according to Scherer.
What would JFK do?
Wounded in Action.....275,175
Total casualties, 1861 to 1865.....664,928
Reparations have been paid.
First & foremost, reparation must include repatriation. Any African who doesn't want to be repatriated is admitting that they're better off in the US than they would have been had they been left in Africa. If having their ancestors brought here in slavery has made them better off than they would have been otherwise, then what claim do they have to reparation? Of course any repatriation would have to be permanent. Those being repatriated would have to give up their US citizenship.
Second, reparation dollar amounts must be based on the African enonomy not the US economy. If we have damaged some Africans by removing them from Africa, then obviously the amount of reparation we owe them would have to based on what they could be expected to earn in Africa not the US. If there income expectancy is higher in the US, then where is the economic damage? I have developed the following formula and taken wild guesses at the variables.
A 30 year old African decides he wants his reparation and he would like to be repatriated to Kenya. Ok, we find out the life expectancy in Kenya is 50 years. We also find out the average annual income in Kenya is $2,000. So we subtract his age from 50 and find out he has 20 years to live in Kenya. We multiple 20 times $2,000 and his reparation amount is $40,000. Plus we would give him free transportation to Kenya.
Since we have given him Kenya's average annual income for the rest of his life, he should be able to move to Kenya and live the rest of his life without ever having to work again. What more could a reasonable man ask?
It seems totally reasonable to me to base all of this on African life expectancies and African income levels because had we not enslaved their ancestors, then that is what they would have been born into. That is what they would have to look forward to. With the above two rules, I totally support reparation for Africans in America.
An additional benefit to repatriation is that the repatriated could work to end slavery in the place where it still exists---Africa.
Why should I have to pay? I haven't benefitted from racism, I've suffered. I can't get hired to certain positions because I don't help to fulfill a quota.
Aren't we doing this now?
Pretty ignorant statement, since there are many black families in the United States who voluntarily immigrated to this country after slavery. Does Colin Powell, who's parents immigrated from Jamaica, deserve reparations? How about the many Nigerians and other Africans who have immigrated here?
Yes, they should!
Every living former adult slave from the Civil War time frame should receive their 40 acres and a mule or the equal in non adjusted Civil War era Union dollars.
Not sure what a 150 year old person will do with 40 acres and a mule, but we should pay never the less
Citing the official US Census of 1830, there were 3,775 free blacks who owned 12,740 black slaves. Furthermore, the story outlines the history of slavery here, and the first slave owner, the Father of American slavery, was Mr Anthony Johnson, of Northampton, Virginia. His slave was John Casor, the first slave for life. Both were black Africans. The story is very readable, and outlines cases of free black women owning their husbands, free black parents selling their children into slavery to white owners, and absentee free black slave owners, who leased their slaves to plantation owners.
-"Selling Poor Steven", American Heritage Magazine, Feb/Mar 1993 (Vol. 441) p 90
Of course, a full telling of Black History would not be complete without a telling of the origin of slavery in the Virginia colony:
Virginia, Guide to The Old Dominion, WPA Writers' Program, Oxford University Press, NY, 1940, p. 378
"In 1650 there were only 300 negroes in Virginia, about one percent of the population. They weren't slaves any more than the approximately 4,000 white indentured servants working out their loans for passage money to Virginia, and who were granted 50 acres each when freed from their indentures, so they could raise their own tobacco.
Slavery was established in 1654 when Anthony Johnson, Northampton County, convinced the court that he was entitled to the lifetime services of John Casor, a negro. This was the first judicial approval of life servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
But who was Anthony Johnson, winner of this epoch-making decision? Anthony Johnson was a negro himself, one of the original 20 brought to Jamestown (1619) and 'sold' to the colonists. By 1623 he had earned his freedom and by 1651, was prosperous enough to import five 'servants' of his own, for which he received a grant of 250 acres as 'headrights.'
Anthony Johnson ought to be in a 'Book of Firsts.' As the most ambitious of the first 20, he could have been the first negro to set foot on Virginia soil. He was Virginia's first free negro and first to establish a negro community, first negro landowner, first negro slave owner and as the first, white or black, to secure slave status for a servant, he was actually the founder of slavery in Virginia. A remarkable man." http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/johnson.html
I found the reference, out of Michael A. Hoffman II's "They Were White and They Were Slaves: The Untold History of the Enslavement of Whites in Early America" : Joseph Cinque was himself a slave trader, selling his fellow blacks into this horror after he himself was set free by a US court.
Amistad producer Debbie Allen calls this destabilizing fact a "rumor." She'd better. If the thinking public, black and white, discover that "noble" Cinque later sold his own people in the very manner he condemned, then there will be a second mutiny, this time against Spielberg and his shameless hoaxing.
Here is Samuel Eliot Morrison, one of the most distinguished of American historians, writing in his "Oxford History of the American People,"
(New York: Oxford Univeristy Press, 1965), p. 520:
"The most famous case involving slavery, until eclipsed by Dred Scott's, was that of the Amistad in 1839. She was a Spanish slave ship carrying 53 newly imported Negroes who were being moved from Havana to another Cuban port. Under the leadership of an upstanding Negro named Cinqué, they mutinied and killed captain and crew. Then, ignorant of navigation, they had to rely on a white man whom they had spared to sail the ship.
"He stealthily steered north, the Amistad was picked up off Long Island by a United States warship, taken into New Haven, and with her cargo placed in charge of the federal marshal. Then what a legal hassle! Spain demanded that the slaves be given up to be tried for piracy, and President Van Buren attempted to do so but did not quite dare.
"Lewis Tappan and Roger Sherman Baldwin, a Connecticut abolitionist, undertook to free them by legal process, and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court. John Quincy Adams, persuaded to act as their attorney, argued that the Negroes be freed, on the ground that the slave trade was illegal both by American and Spanish law, and that mankind had a natural right to freedom.
"The court with a majority of Southerners, was so impressed by the old statesman's eloquence that it ordered Cinqué and the other Negroes set free, and they were returned to Africa. The ironic epilogue is that Cinqué, once home, set himself up as a slave trader."
(End quotation from historian Samuel Eliot Morrison)
Child slavery today in West Africa?
Slavery throughout historyhttp://www.freetheslaves.net/slavery_today/slavery.html
"To pursue the concept of racial entitlement--even for the most admirable and benign of purposes--is to reinforce and preserve for future mischief the way of thinking that produced race slavery, race privilege and race hatred. In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American."
--Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take it away from those who are willing to work and give it to those who would not."
There are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The modern commerce in humans rivals illegal drug trafficking in its global reach and in the destruction of lives.
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