Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reparations: The time has come to right a wrong

The government has once again come to the aid of big business. A.I.G. just received an additional 55 million dollars from the 700 billion rescue plan. This brings the total outlay to the insurance giant to 150 billion.

I don’t know about you but this rubs me the wrong way on two fronts. One, the American people are being screwed. Two, it reminds me of a wrong that’s yet to remedied.

Historically government and big business has gone hand in hand commencing with the rise of American slavery. Slavery is a topic most shun but I think it’s a perfect opportunity to provide insight into the past so we can better understand what’s happening today with the economy from an African American standpoint.

First, we must acknowledge slavery did happen. This country still suffers from the effects of slavery but, like racism, no constructive collective dialogue has taken place to put the scars of slavery in its proper historical context.

The first slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 as indentured servants but by the 1640’s the institution intensified to full-blown bondage. Slaves weren’t considered human beings with rights-they were considered sub-human and were treated as such.

The preeminent factor regarding slavery wasn’t race as, but economics. Oppressors saw an opportunity to take advantage of forcing servitude on African slaves. The latter allowed the institution to thrive economically at expense of innocent people.

Slaves weren’t paid a dime for centuries of service. Mind you, there were no 401K's, mutual funds, or IRA's. Slaves worked from sun up to sun down to fill the pockets of their self-anointed masters.

Can you imagine working for an entire year and have your earnings revert back to your employer instead of your pocket? The latter would ensure your family would suffer. Now, imagine the latter setup being in place for four centuries.

This country’s economic base was built on free African labor that was sanctioned by the government. When the economics of slavery was threatened the government instituted legislation to ensure slavery would pervade. The same thing is happening right before our eyes but many just don’t see it.

The monies amassed by plantation owners were kept in the family and handed down to future generations with government support. I think African Americans have a human, moral and legal right to collect monies owed to our forefathers who were forced to work for free.

How do African Americans get paid?

I think suing the government would be practical. Taking the United States government to the world court of the United Nations is the way to go. Taking the case to the Supreme Court would be merely taking your case to the government’s predecessors.

In short, you don’t take your case to the criminal-you take your criminal to court.

How would the funds be allocated?

President Bush provided some Americans a few crumbs via stimulus checks. In essence, the money and the means to distribute the funds are already in place. We just have to arrive at a number that’s fair and have the government begin paying what’s owed.

The notion of reparations may seem outlandish but it makes sense to me. Slavery was the most notorious crime ever committed. Murder, rape, kidnapping, assault, battery, are among the many laws broken yet no one has served a day in jail or paid a fine for their collective wrong-doings.
In March of 1953 the West Germans signed a treaty with Isreal that acknowleged the persecution and enslavement of Jews during the Holocaust. Jews were compensates for the latter and for the property stolen from them by the Nazis.
Under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 President Ronald Reagan apologized to Japanese Americans internment during World War II. He also provided reparations of $20,000 to each survivor to compensate for loss of property and liberty during the war.
Native American tribes over time have received compensation for lands ceded to the United States by them in various treaties.
As you can see others have gotten paid reparations, why shouldn’t African Americans?

Today everyone in America except big business and government are being pimped with systematic precision-but African Americans have been pimped from the jump beginning with the rise of American slavery.

The precedent was set by the Founding Fathers allowed institutionalized slavery to thrive-obviously they can’t pay up but their predecessors can.

The time has come to begin to correct a wrong that certainly wasn’t right.

What do you think?

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