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Last updated August 12, 2013

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ARGUMENT FOR SLAVERY REPARATIONS

 by Dr. Lathardus Goggins II

Over the past few years, I have read and/or heard many discussions regarding African American Reparations. I have also noticed that those who try to articulate opposition to reparation have either shown their ignorance of the issue or how bigotry clouds good judgment. Though the debate about how reparations are to be paid continues, I fail to understand how any clear thinking knowledgeable person can deny the “rightness” of reparations. Reparations are neither about discrimination nor about the individuals who committed dehumanizing acts. African American Reparations is based on a legal precedence, that when a society or group willingly and knowingly commits a crime or “moral wrongs” against another compensation is due from the institutions that represent the offending society or group. There are countless examples of this principle.

The rightness of African American Reparations is based on that from 1619 – 1865, the legal status of people of African descent was property (i.e., Massachusetts Body of Liberties-1641; Belt v. Dalby-1786; Fugitive Slave Act-1850; Dred Scott Decision-1857), a status legitimized by all levels of government. Again, African American Reparations is not about simple dissemination that, yes, all immigrants face. It is about the countless laws passed at all levels of government (local, state, federal) that in effect institutionalized the dehumanization and disfranchisement of black people. No law was passed against the Irish from practicing their own culture. No law was passed to prevent the Irish from learning to read and write English. For 246 years, this was the case for people of African descent in the United States, laws that often carried the death penalty. During a brief period 1865 – 1876, blacks received full protection as citizens under the law. However, in short order, the federal government again institutionalized and thus sanctioned the dehumanizing and disfranchisement of African Americans (i.e. R. B. Hayes deal-1878; jim crow laws; Plessy vs. Ferguson-1896).

One horrific evidence of the federal government complacency towards and collaboration in dehumanizing and the disfranchisement of African Americans, is that while an estimated 3,386 people were lynched from 1882 to 1930, the vast majority of which were African America men (On average that is the equivalent of 1 person every 5 days for 48 years), an anti-lynching act could not be passed in congress. Do not confuse lynching to be an isolated act of violence. Lynchings were generally social events. For example, in Ohio on June 18, 1897 a black man was lynched in front of a crowd of estimated 9,000 people. Lynchings were not social responses to an individual, but individual examples to the entire black community regarding the power of whites over blacks. Furthermore, there are no records of any person associated with a lynching of being convicted from 1880 – 1905, which implicates local, state and federal governments as sanctioning lynching.

Without Sanctuary: Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America

Lynching is but one example of social dehumanization and disfranchisement of African Americans by the American Society. One could have easily discussed the educational, psychological, economical, cultural disfranchisement or countless other examples of the brutal and willing disregard for human potential in African Americans. Recently, another example is congress refusal to vote on a resolution to apologize for the United States role in enslaving people of African descent (where 50-60% of the approximately 20,000,000 people taken from Africa, died just in crossing, Middle Passage).

Given the legal precedence set by the reparation paid to Jews and aid given to Israel; the reparations given to Japanese Americans; and the Marshall plan, when one looks at the facts (I suggest The Debt by Randall Robinson, Reparations by Arnold Schuchter and The Case for Black Reparations by Boris Bittker) the rightness of African American reparations cannot be questioned.

For those who suggest that providing African American Reparation will not be easy, I say true. However, “difficulty” ought not ever be the criterion for determining if something is right or not. There is much debate still needed to determine how much, in what form and how will reparations be distributed. Nevertheless, there cannot be any question of should reparations be paid to African Americans. Any clear thinking informed person must answer, YES!

A post note:

In 1893, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner organized a national convention to discuss the conditions of African-Americans and strategies for remedy. During the convention Bishop Turner, calculated that the African-American community was owed $49,000,000,000.00 (billion). Using an inflation calculator, the current value ranges from 1.1 to 45.9 trillion dollors (see the numbers).

 

 

Reparations Related Links

Reparation Timeline

African Reparations

The African American Reparation Action Network

Statutes of the US Concerning Slavery

All Deliberate Speed

Petition Alleging Violations of the Human Rights of John Melvin Alexander et al.  by the United States of America


Book Recommendations

Lynching Calendar

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