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Skye
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(Originally posted on: 04-04-03 11:58:19 PM)
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This topic always gets me because it's so complicated in nature. I'm not too well-versed on the topic, so I'm hoping some people can come and make comments and supply links so that everyone will be enlightened.

Anyway, recently black Americans have been pushing for descendants of slaves to receive reparations for their ancestors being in slavery for many years. There have been reparations programs for other oppressed groups, but somehow this seems completely different and more difficult to award or even debate.

For one thing, one wonders how many black Americans can actually trace their ancestry back to the times of slavery, with documentation. My grandmother can because it was only about four or five generations ago, but not many people can. Where would this money come from, and should the current citizens be forced to pay taxes toward a cause in America's past?

Also, there certainly were atrocities committed during the period of enslavement and the whole institution was truly a horrible institution, but is money truly the most sufficient way to appease the suffering of the slaves? Many ethnocentric leaders may say that it is, but something tells me that as long as there is an emphasis on race in society, no amount of protesting or money or awareness programs will ever be enough.

But comments, links, anything? If anyone responds, I'd greatly appreciate it.
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Reply 1 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-05-03 01:34:20 AM)
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The problems with reparations are manifold:

1) How do you address the culpability issue? Should culpability be transferred to following generations? If so, is it a blanket transfer, or individual transfer?

2) How do you address the liability issue? Should all descendents of black people, regardless of their current situation, be compensated by all descendents of the oppressors (white people or not), regardless of their current situation? Should the descendents of those white people who did not own slaves compensate the current generation too? What happens if you ancestors included both the oppressed and the oppressor?

3) How do you calculate compensation amounts / deals? How many potential descendents lost, property not owned, etc?

These are 3 of the major ones I can think of off the top of my head. If you want a more detailed breakdown, let me know so I can retrieve my posts from another forum.
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Reply 2 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-05-03 08:32:10 AM)
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I'm completely against it. They would be getting money for something they didn't do. If they knew there ancestors personally, then I could see a little money. Otherwise, I'm not for it at all.
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Reply 3 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-05-03 02:03:39 PM)
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In the great word of the movie Barber Shop

"All that giving reparations to the black community would do is make cadilac the most sucessful car company in the world"
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Reply 4 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-06-03 02:58:04 PM)
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Why just reparations for slavery? What about for the Indians? There are people of African American decent who are quite successful today, but most Native Americans live on reservations, their culture ruined. We've practically killed off a unique race of people, and its culture, its incredible way of life.
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Reply 5 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-06-03 03:15:15 PM)
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I'm undecided, Probably against it though. How will money help? Isn't it an emotional issue?
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Reply 6 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-06-03 03:23:21 PM)
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Quoted from Vervet:
Why just reparations for slavery? What about for the Indians? There are people of African American decent who are quite successful today, but most Native Americans live on reservations, their culture ruined. We've practically killed off a unique race of people, and its culture, its incredible way of life.


Some tribes of Native Americans were also enslaved. I'm hoping that if they do offer reparations for anything, they will at least encompass all of the people that were involved and not narrow the field.
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Reply 7 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-06-03 05:04:14 PM)
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I don't know how they would give out reparations. I think people would be in an uproar over who got them and who didn't get them. However, Vervet is right. If we give Blacks reparations then we have to give Native Americans the as well.
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Reply 8 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-07-03 01:55:43 AM)
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I'm totally against giving reperations to African Americans because frankly, no one alive today is a former slave. The last former slave died around the turn of the 20th century, methinks.

To get paid for something that you did not go through is pretty stupid. And, I think if we work in this way, it'll only reimburse the racial barriers between blacks and whites in this nation. It may cause some horrendous race riots like those in 1919 because many non-blacks may very well be in an uproar in the gargantuan amount taxes that they'll have to pay to "reimburse" a certain group for a practice they did not suffer in their lifetime...

I do, however, believe Native Americans might need reimbursement. But, the native tribes around in my area (San Manuel tribe, especially) are pretty rich. They not only have a very successful casino, but they also have established a booming bottled water company, so I believe. But, then again, only a select few could be the rich ones.
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Reply 9 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-27-03 01:25:34 PM)
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Getting to stay in the US should be compensation enough. If they want reparations, it should come in the form of paying for a ticket back to whatever shithole their ancestors were taken from.


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Reply 10 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-27-03 01:44:30 PM)
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I love this point simply because it's inherently stupid. Freed slaves didn't have many places to go, for one thing. Most slaves either migrated to the North or remained as workers on the plantations because that work was all they knew. Two, they were born in the U.S. so whether anyone likes it or not, this is our country. Whatever traces of heritage that were from Africa got stomped out in about two hundred years.

I'm sorry about that--hearing things like that just set me off. It's not a stupid argument.

But back on the subject...I don't think descendants should get reparations either because we shouldn't put a price tag on our ancestors' suffering. Even though it was an atrocious experience for them to endure, paying us for it would devalue the whole experience because it does nothing to atone for it, really. Cash handouts never kill the memories.

But that's just me. I'm going to try to find some sites and info on the situation. If anyone has any to offer, please--by all means, post them.
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Reply 11 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-27-03 05:27:58 PM)
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I think it's a stupid idea.

Why should I be held responsible for what my ancestors did (please note that I don't know whether or not my ancestors were slavers, but, being Irish, I don't think that they were.) hundreds of years ago?

If reparations were ever going to be made, they would have to have been made promptly after emancipation for it to work at all.
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Reply 12 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-27-03 11:08:28 PM)
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Blanket, wholesale reparations are placing the resources where they least belong. Instead, specific incidents, like Rosewood, should be handsomely rewarded in full view of the cameras. Slowly, when five or six actual decendants of people of color who lost real property, (for instance, reparations given to someone whose parents/grandparents were Japanese business or land owners who lost their belongings when they were placed in internment camps during the world war; Leonard Peltier and the Pine Ridge reservation people whose husbands were shot or whose animals were slaughtered in another specific government grab for treaty land as late as the 1970's; and some of the Korean business owners whose stores were destroyed in the LA riots---when a few cases illustrate the principle, maybe some hurt feelings can heal. The power of a simple acknowledgement of wrongdoing and an apology, hell, a handshake from the mayor, can have vast healing capabilities). When it becomes evident that the precedent, the expectation, in American is that people shouldn't have what they've earned taken away from them because of their race, then we will see a real change in racial attitudes in this country.

African-Americans aren't the only ones who got 'jumped in' to America. Ask the Irish, the Chinese, the Sicilians. We're all here now; when everybody quits bitching about how hard it was to get applause upon arrival and starts looking ahead to the business of getting ahead and the pursuit of happiness, a hell of a lot of social problems will work themselves out.

Skye, I hate to tell you, but here in Houston, home of Quannel X, the two biggest churches in the black community battle with m'f'king injunctions for the right to hold the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade every year. They brawl bitterly in the media about which one gets to hold the parade to honor the great pacifist. The fact is, each one needs that parade to qualify for some sort of funding that they would not otherwise have, so the stakes are understandably high, but the yearly brawl just leaves a bad odor behind in white and black Houstonians' and Baptists' memories alike, and nobody of either color checks the box for their yearly taxable donation, which makes the churches and activists evermore desperate and defensive. How are y'all going to get your shit together enough to convince anyone to give you more money for slaves? It becomes, Here we go again. Okay, Black People, you're tapping on my wallet again; what is it this time, y'all?

Anybody who truly believes that actual dollars are going to end up in their pocket is either a beautiful idealist or trying to get your vote. It's up to you, as a black young woman, to look at the hard data and suggest where the reparation dollars would best be spent.

Read up on the Rosewood case.
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This reply was last edited on 04-28-03 10:55:36 AM by Mojo.
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Reply 13 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-28-03 12:42:35 PM)
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The freakiest thing about the Rosewood story and the resulting case is that no one really knows the full circumstances behind the massacre and destruction. No one knows if the woman who accused a black man of assaulting her was really assaulted by a black man or her lover. No one knows if the band of men who came and massacred the town included the police or not. Everyone knows what resulted, but the circumstances behind it are still unclear.

The survivors came forward after six decades--that's a long time to keep quiet about something of that magnitude...MAGUSMAGUSMAGUSMAGUS

But that's the thing: can you really place a price tag on something like that? I don't think anyone can, no matter how much society convinces us that everything can be bought or sold if people are morally reprehensible enough .

I'm torn between the issue of reparations--partly because my family (who is very Afrocentric, by the way--recently my mother yelled at me for saying that the movie "The Ten Commandments" was about Hebrew slavery and failing to parallel it with American slavery) thinks that it's long overdue; I myself have learned enough about slavery to form the opinion that our ancestors deserve a lot more recognition than is granted them and that Black History Month is basically a joke now; and that no matter how much money anyone forks over, nothing will be resolved. It's not like the cash will rewrite history.

Monuments don't even seem adequate sometimes to memorialize atrocities. I personally don't think monuments for atrocities serve any real purpose but to scare and depress the hell out of people, and one shouldn't have to use scare tactics to educate people. Plus they simply alienate or empower the people who may still wholeheartedly agree with the perspectives of the time--you know, by showing them the kind of grief one could cause if such treatment were to be reinstituted. Some sick people get off on that.

I don't think it would resolve anything. But at the same time, I couldn't sit around and do what some people insist and "let it go" because that's how the hell I was born in this country. And while I'm glad the same conditions do not exist, I still have a lingering fear history could repeat itself, no matter how progressive our society seems. Believe it or not, when slavery and other atrocities were committed, they were in the midst of "progressive" periods.

I don't know...I'm ranting now.
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Reply 14 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-28-03 12:50:48 PM)
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There should be a moral reparation, but not economical, because as Ice said noone can be held responsible for what their ancestors did.
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Reply 15 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-28-03 01:16:29 PM)
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Quoted from Sukkit:
There should be a moral reparation, but not economical, because as Ice said noone can be held responsible for what their ancestors did.


The caveat is that I personally feel descendents can be held liable (but not responsible) for the deeds of their ancestors if they profitted from it. However, the problem is that slavery happened more than 100 years ago. It's quite impossible to calculate liabilities for the current generations.

IMO, the best form of "reparation", to call it that, is to build on affirming the equality between the races, and that means spending money to bring up education levels (AFAIK, blacks perform poorer than whites on standard tests), so as to break the cyclic chain of poverty and underperformance. However, I do think that, regardless of whether you're white or black, you need to take hold of the opportunities you're given and rise above your circumstances. Blaming them hardly solves anything, and breeds resentment.
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Reply 16 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-28-03 01:21:55 PM)
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Well, exactly, Skye. Will $265 be enough to heal the wrongs? Bring closure? If I thought cutting someone a check was the only way to say, "I'm sorry," I'd be all for it.

The problem is that we've become a tort society, and we've discovered that when criminal courts fail, you still might have a case to sue the shit out of somebody. A lot of white people look at reparations as punishment for being born white in states where their ancestors may or may not have supported or traded in slaves. It's the same dillema---do you take money away from one race to satisfy the demands, however illogical and/or emotional, of another one in this country?

Again, consider the property owners who were portrayed as little more than ape-like beasts during the time the nation was at war with Japan. The homeland propaganda was the most viciously racist of any war up to that era in American history, with the sole exception of the American expansion into Native Indian territory a hundred years prior.

Modern-time Americans feel they've worked, earned, and established themselves on their own merit, not on the backs of either slaves or the general wealth that their slave-owning ancestors provided. Most of the slave-earned wealth was broken during the Restoration of the South, anyway. It's not like any of us are staying fat and happy because my grandfather stepped on your grandfather's back.

I hate to play the devil's advocate, but instead of seizing upon every complaint and issue that sweeps through the black community every few years, black, college-educated young people need to learn to focus their demands on issues that will actually promote more equal treatment and perception in a twenty-years' frame of time.

Frankly, asking for more money while the welfare system is groaning under its own collassal weight is out of the question. Or, as a less PC friend of mine declared, "They've already got reparations. Hell, it's called the Gun Buy-back program."

*sigh*

No, money's not going to solve anything.
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Reply 17 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-28-03 03:00:40 PM)
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Heh, I think I'm taking this thread in a different direction than what I intended, but if some sort of monetary compensation were provided, the best investment for it would be for the establishment of equal rights organizations, human rights organization--not just the narrow focus on one race of people.

I really don't like how the rights movement has progressed when I see things now...people focusing their attentions on taking down flags and dememorializing water fountains because it suggests that something undesirable happened in the past and is a "mark of present racism". Efforts should be redirected into trying to do things for people in general.

In fact, I think that I have an idea for another thread that goes on a tangent from this: is it possible to even have equality with our present society in this state?

Hmmm...

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Reply 18 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-29-03 06:13:25 AM)
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I personally dont feel that it is possible to make reparations of any tangible sort without in the process inflicting further wrongs upon the modern population of america, which will only lead to problems in the future. To address past injustice from a federal level requires, necessarily, taking money equally from the taxpayers, and in doing so you can guarantee that you are doing so 'unfairly'. Sure, there should be recognition of the stupidity of slavery, but there should not be reparations paid for by the modern state, for something over which it had and could have had no control. You are not responsible for the sins of your fathers, despite what the bible may tell you. (ut was the bible, no?)
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Reply 19 of 107 (Originally posted on: 04-29-03 08:33:33 PM)
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We've done enough by admitting and acknowledging that slavery was wrong, and changing the way things are. Reperations have been made as best as they ever will.
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Reply 20 of 107 (Originally posted on: 05-08-03 09:52:41 PM)
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People receiving compensation for something their ancestors went through is ridiculous and stupid. They didn't suffer, so why should they be compensated. It is sad that so many people push for equality and then proceed to give special priveledges and government gifts to people based on their race. Great way to promote equality.
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Reply 21 of 107 (Originally posted on: 05-09-03 10:00:05 AM)
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Going back to somthing Skye said. I read in a newsweek about how some African Americans (AM) want the US to pay for their way back to Africa. They stated in the artical that they wanted to go home, back to where we Americans took them from. My mom and I were talking about it and she agreed that it should be done. Now I would be all for it except for on major flaw... Africa is not their home. It may have been the home to many of the first slaves but then all the rest were born right here in the US.I am mostly Greman so does that mean Germany is my home? No I was bor here in Wisconsin I would'nt know what to do in germany let alone speak the language. The AMs these days know nothing about the culture in Africa. They shouldn't be reffered to as African Americans they are just Americans, who are black.
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Reply 22 of 107 (Originally posted on: 05-09-03 11:34:01 AM)
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Its a pipe dream, no American government is going to shell out for the crimes the committed hundreds of years ago. This is something that just happened way to long ago..when do you stop paying for it?
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Reply 23 of 107 (Originally posted on: 05-09-03 06:01:23 PM)
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Xanadu, I'm veering slightly off-topic to note that I logged in to moderator's mode to give you a huge THANK YOU for contributing to this thread. It's nice to see you here in Serious Discussions. I found your response to be well thought-out and wonderfully phrased. I see a different side of you here than I do in RS, and it makes the typos much more forgivable---not that there are as many. So again, thank you for your effort. And on a personal note, it's good that you can talk with your mom and agree about some things, isn't it? *whew*

And Skye, great topic. Thanks for posting, too.



Now, back to playing the Devil's Advocate, heh heh. Since there are still a very many wealthy British descendants of slave traders, shouldn't those who want passage back to Africa sue those guys instead?
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This reply was last edited on 05-09-03 06:13:18 PM by Mojo.
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Reply 24 of 107 (Originally posted on: 05-09-03 06:45:01 PM)
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Quoted from Mojo:
Now, back to playing the Devil's Advocate, heh heh. Since there are still a very many wealthy British descendants of slave traders, shouldn't those who want passage back to Africa sue those guys instead?


They can, but they will have a hard time proving that those riches resulted from slavery. Too many years have passed between abolition and now to reasonably, from a legal point of view, calculate the extent to which those riches are a strong indirect result of slavery of the plaintiffs' ancestors.
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