01-30-04 - 10:59 p.m.
I'm sorry, but this regularly scheduled program has been interrupted by AMY-POLITICA... political mind awaking from six months of dormancy.
Liberals may regard the idea of making reparations to slave descendants an utterly radical one -- even if those reparations were in the forms of grants and social improvements. Conservatives may disapprove, and even feel that reparations are currently being made. I personally feel the accusation that welfare is "slave reparations" is founded on stereotypes of welfare mothers rather than the reality of sick and elderly dependents of the state. I have come to understand that slave reparations has applications as a legal issue and not simply a moral one -- similar to a lawsuit or a criminal case. African-American individuals lost property and money and life. African-American individuals were abused physically and emotionally, their culture stolen. They were intimidated into moving, their land "whitecapped". They were lynched and their land was sold. Well, whoops... Except those things are illegal and thus many could be considered appropriate for civil recourse. Obviously, the slave owners who beat their slaves and built plantations on their back are as dead as the slaves who received beatings, and we cannot apologize for them. Governments and corporations built themselves on slave money, however, and they still are alive and well. They built houses, machines, and wars out of African sweat.
Human rights procedures dictate that a people have a right to seek justice in the case of violated human rights. Slavery was officially declared a crime against humanity, not only by United Nations Comissions but in several forums, although the United States never officially apologized. Reparations is not an idea created for and by African-Americans, although they have been championing it on and off since Reconstruction itself. A portion of Japanese-Americans were held in prison camps for three years. These Japanese-Americans petitioned the government and eventually received a measley $20,000 each along with formal letters of apology.
I learned the academic term Maafa as one that has been recently been applied to the mass injustices, including slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow times, that have been applied to African-Americans based on their race alone since 1619. This term was chosen because it was determined that the terms "holocaust" and "diaspora" referred to entirely different phenomenon and that the African-American experience was relatively unmatched. Of the 45 million Africans freed in the United States, most had been imprisoned the majority if not the whole of their lives.
It can be argued that tracking down the descendants of these slaves would be arduous if not impossible and extremely costly. Still America cannot simply offer an apology to the descendants of African slaves and admit formally that slavery was a crime of human rights. Senator John Conyers asks for a commision to fully investigate the effects of crimes against Africans in America pre-Civil War and we won't give a commission a chance when we have done the same for several Native-American tribes. In Germany and other European countries, millions and billions of dollars of funds from governments, corporations, and citizens is returning the money they stole from Jews, paying those in work camps small compensations, and is on the whole very apologetic. There has been no shortage of desire to study the holocaust. We think hatefully of the men and women who sat idly by while millions of Jews were slaughtered. We forget that in the time of our own ancestors smilar evils were going on and justify it by saying that "back then" it was the accepted thing to do. It is as if murder was evil in 1940, but slavery was alright before the 1800s.
No one seems to really think about the issue. I think the fact that it was "so long ago" does not matter in many senses. To say that it was "So long ago" is to say that if a governmnet ignores a problem long enough it will disappear, as African-Americans have had no shortage of desire to have reparations. To say that it was "So long ago" ignores Civil War re-enactments, and "pickup trucks with teh Conferderate flag" (thanks Dean), and hell, English classes where I need recognize Shakespeare. There are probably hundreds of scholars right now trying to discover the true identity of Shakespeare's dark lady, who killed JFK, and our country cannot give money to investigate the millions of men ....well, I need not to restate the horrors of slavery, because if you don't know you can certainly learn (and I don't know, I mean really know, so we're two of a kind.) Before we establish reparations we need someone to officially sit down and investigate the claim, and the United States will not even dignifiy that claim with an attempt to answer it.
Wow, I'm fired up, and I think I could regurgitate facts and spew opinions for five more entries. I think that's a large chunk of it, though I'm sore I don't have the patience to write it better.