Thursday, July 13, 2006

Should Africans pay reparations to African-Americans

Anonymous caller on local paper wonders why Africans not being sued for reparations by African Americans: "Most of the slaves (brought to the U.S.) were bought from opposing tribes in Africa. Why don’t I see any lawsuits against the descendants of those tribes in Africa instead of just trying to blackmail American companies?” Should the African slave traders by sued for havng enslaved their African bretheren?

3 Comments:

Blogger Jay said...

I have always said that talk of reparations for slavery is a waste of time. It will serve no meaningful purpose as it is virtually impossible to monetise the reparations and have them distributed to those they are intended for.

3:45 AM  
Blogger Githush said...

@jay,
I also find the whole debate about reparations useless. African Americans happen to be very lucky, luckier than folks in Africa, having been born in the land of plenty. This - and the issues you raised - make me dubious about calls for reperations.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Zion said...

Posts such as the canard spewed by jay and githush speak to the mental derangement of the majority of white people when faced with the issue of slavery and reparations. Absolute ignorance and BLATANT racism. Why is Africa in the state it is in now? Where did the "land of plenty" get those riches? Your ignorance is appalling githush.

It is a tenant of international law that when a government commits major human rights violations against a SPECIFIC section of its own population (i.e. Black Codes, Jim Crow, Segregation, Lynching and Disenfranchisement of Black People) that government is responsible for repair or another definition of repair is REPARATIONS.

Slavery was an institution sanctioned by the highest laws of the land with a degree of support from the Constitution itself.

The institution of slavery established the idea and the practice that American democracy was "for whites only." The government is an entity that survives generations, its debts and obligation survive the lifespan of any particular individuals...There are many white Americans whose actions (or lack thereof) reveal such sentiments today--witness the response of the media and the general populace to the blatant disregard of African Americans in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Would such complacency exist if African Americans were considered "real citizens"?

What about the disenfranchisement of Black citizens in the 2000 election? And despite the dramatic successes of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, the majority of black Americans do not enjoy the same rights as white Americans in the economic sphere.

The injury in question--that of slavery--was inflicted upon a people designated as a race. The descendants of that people--still socially constructed as a race today--continue to suffer the institutional
legacies of slavery some one hundred thirty-five years after its demise.

Race cannot be separated from said injury because wrongs were inflicted on sole basis of one's skin color.

For example, the criminal (in)justice system today largely continues to operate as it did under slavery--for the
protection of white citizens against black "outsiders." Although no longer written law, this very attitude is implicit to processes of law enforcement,
prosecution, and incarceration, guiding the behavior of police, prosecutors, judges, juries, wardens, and parole boards. Hence, African Americans continue to experience higher rates of incarceration than do whites charged with similar crimes, endure longer sentences for the same classes of crimes perpetrated by whites, and, compared to white inmates, receive far less
consideration by parole boards when being considered for release.

The fact that immigrants arrived after slavery has no bearing on the call for restitution as anyone who seeks to benefit from the priviliges set forth in this nation must also accept her battles as is expected of any other American citizen.

Thus, anyone who immigrates to the United States American citizenship inherits America fight for freedom.
We don't ask new immigrants to re-fight the War of 1812, nor do we require them re-write to the Bill of Rights.
Yet they are beneficiaries of that history. New immigrants also inherit the bad with the good. They inherit all the responsibilities of every American citizen no matter how long they have been here, no matter where they came from or why, without regard to their race, creed, color, religion, gender, sexual preference or other distinction.

The arguments for reparations are not made on the basis of whether every white person directly gained from slavery. It's addressing crimes by government against a people.

For two hundred years, the federal government embraced
made laws and embraced policies that supported racism after the Civil War and the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. Because of racist laws and policies after slavery, blacks were denied the chance to compete or the opportunities and resources that were available to native whites and
white immigrants. The promise of forty acres and a mule to former slaves were effectively nullified by the actions of Pres. Andrew Johnson.

For example, immediately after the war Congress restructured laws to constrain newly freed black men and women called Black Codes. Blacks were barred from towns after certain hours and were prevented from renting or leasing farms. Under Jim Crow, many "Black males were expected to tip their
hats in the presence of whites, even if they were walking on the
opposite side of the street." The Codes were implemented in the late nineteenth century and, unfortunately, lasted until the 1960s.

From Black Codes, Jim Crow, KKK to lynchings the United States government sanctioned and upheld these oppressive and exploitative systems to the detriment of its newly freed African slaves. The United States had officially committed itself to civil and political rights for blacks.

However, it failed to enforce those rights intended in the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. African Americans were betrayed, and a brutal white supremacist regime was allowed to replace chattel slavery.

Thus the federal government is reasonably held accountable for the persisting legacy of those wrongs.

Once the wrongs committed against African Americans are recognized as constituting a claim that creates a property right cognizable under our legal system what remedy is appropriate? Many argue that current generations have no responsibility, because none of us ever held slaves.

Again, the arguments are made on the basis that slavery was
institutionalized and protected by the law in the United States.

Yes, its true that many Americans have immigrated recently to the United States and many others are descendants of immigrants who arrived after the Civil War.

Human Rights Watch recently issued a report stating that the US should pay reparations not only for slavery, but for segregation, too. No mention is made in the Human Rights Report of the one hundred years of lynchings to which Black people in America were subjected.

Today the vestiges of racial discrimination, which began during the days of black race hatred and slavery, are still visible.

8:19 PM  

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