US Senator Mitch McConnell of South Carolina’s statement suggesting that the election of former president Barack Obama was a reparation for the damage done to Africans living in America, provides insight into the US mindset on the subject. Unfortunately, Black people did not get full when the Obama’s ate!
McConnell said earlier this week, that reparations “for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible,” was not a good idea. He added, “We tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a Civil War, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, elected an African American president.”
“We… elected an African American president?” The US bourgeoisie’s penchant for dishonesty is boundless. McConnell surely did not vote for the first Black president. And he surely did not support any of the Civil Rights legislation to which he is alluding. Civil rights legislation (which is still being fought for) did not level the playing field, or make Black America whole, which is the point of reparations.
The dictionary defines it as “the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.” The root of reparation is repair, the idea is for the damages suffered to be repaired.
It should be made clear that when advocates speak of reparations they are not simply alluding to redress for chattel slavery. The demand for reparations includes the neo slavery that followed: including lynching, the pogroms, land theft, rape, 1919’s Red Summer, redlining, racist discriminatory law and the terror that hounded Black people most of the last century. It also includes modern day discrimination, institutional racism, police terror, inequities and the micro-aggressions, which prevent Black folks from living full and prosperous lives.
And someone should tell poor White folks that, ‘this aint bout you.’ No one is foolish enough to ask for money from broke poor and working class Whites. As they are quick to point out their ancestors were “po” and did not own slaves.
The demand for restitution is placed squarely on the US government and its power structure, which profited directly and indirectly from slavery. This government also owes for implementing a kind of “White Affirmative Action” program, which awarded benefits and instituted policies, regulations and legislation that advanced White America materially at the expense of Black America, since slavery.
But like McConnell most Americans believe reparations have already been paid, simply because Blacks have gained personal liberty, citizenship, the right to vote and the right to date and marry White folks and their very own president (well kind of) . So it comes as no surprise that over 80 percent of Whites in this country are opposed, if the latest polls are to be believed.
And it is not shocking that a poll found nearly a third of Black people opposed to reparations. Of course they are opposed: because he majority of White people are opposed! Those Negroes are afraid that some people (in the most litigious society in the history of humankind) would be offended if they had the nerve to desire payment of damages in any form, for the heinous crimes, inequities and discrimination heaped upon their ancestors, grandparents, parents and this generation.
According to opponents, living in the US should be enough!
Judging from some of the racial mythology created by the majority in this country, asking for reparations is viewed by some as Black folks being ungrateful. Some have boldly and ignorantly claimed that Black peoples reward for their ancestors having endured chattel slavery, was the ability to live free in the US. (well kind of).
John McWhorter, a Black academic who is well paid due to his ability to side with the enemies of Black progress, foolishly advanced the perspective that the debt owed to Africans in the US has been paid as well. In a 2001 essay in which he excoriates Randall Robinson’s “The Debt,” McWhorter claimed that “for almost forty years America has been granting blacks what any outside observer would rightly call reparations.”
Upon closer examination it is likely that many are opposed to reparations partly because they have no idea the scope and nature of “chattel” slavery or the racist history of neo-slavery (Jim Crow, de jure and de facto) that followed. Many of the vestiges of neo slavery still haunt us today, which is why police shoot and kill Black people with near impunity and just as importantly, there is no national governmental effort to stop the extra judicial murders.
Chattel slavery in the Americas amounted to a holocaust.
As the struggle for reparations continue, we should always keep in mind that this power structure and this system didn’t commit unspeakable trespasses, heinous acts and human theft, in order to one day give back the spoils of their criminality.
While making the case for reparations it is important that we work for that which will bring the best of reparation: a society in which we are all treated equally and fairly as human beings; a society which helps folks put decent food in our stomachs, decent clothes on our backs and a decent roof over our heads; one which allows us all to take our talents as far as they can without hindrance or prejudice; a society in which we ALL are allowed to prosper. This society as it stands; this social, political, economic system which uses White Supremacy to confuse and divide us; and which refuses to acknowledge its debts or past crimes, has to become a relic of the past, if we are to survive as a civilization.
This ends Part I of the essay
justice then peace