“By our unpaid labor and suffering, we have earned the right to the soil, many times over, and now we are determined to have it.”
How can Blacks gain economic parity in America? The answer is so simple that no one ever suggests reparations as a remedy for what ails Blacks.
A long-running crime has been perpetrated against the descendants of slaves. Blacks are owed restoration of the rich history that slavery and segregation stole. But nobody stands up for Black descendants of slaves to get their just due in America. American justice for Blacks will require an act of Congress. With a little prodding from their constituents, Black members of Congress can lead the charge and bring about an act of Congress in regard to reparations owed to more than 30 million Black descendants of slaves living in America today.
Well over a century after slavery’s end, Black Americans are still poorer, less educated, and earning far less than their White counterparts. Blacks lag behind Whites in every area of American life. We all know that racism, racial discrimination and inequality continues to be perpetuated against Blacks. It’s on Blacks to initiate national discussions that have race, slavery and reparations as themes. Blacks need to use their resources to put it on America’s agenda to acknowledge its financial obligation for centuries of slavery and continuing subjugation. Instead of cowering and trying to lay low, Blacks need to correct the country’s ignorance of its racist history and illustrate the impact of de facto discrimination and slavery’s legacy in our social and political lives as well as psyche.
Many differences between Blacks and Whites stem from economic inequalities that have accumulated over the course of American history. In the years since the civil rights triumphs of the 1960s, when compared to Whites, African Americans complete less formal schooling, work fewer hours at a lower rate of pay and are more likely to give birth to a child out of wedlock and to rely on welfare.
We should use our resources to work toward a “renaissance” for our race. America was built from the ground up by slave labor. But, officials, Black and White, denial of the benefits gained from centuries of slave labor are, in effect, an attempt to pretend that America’s holocaust never occurred. Isn’t it time we demanded our political representatives submitted reparations legislation to obtain what we are owed? Blacks are slow to discuss “the debt” we are owed, even though we remain “behind” in every category of social measurement due to slavery’s legacy. Blacks’ current plight results from slavery and there should be instruments and policies to assist in Blacks’ current educational and economic deficiencies.
Contemporary Blacks need to focus on the fact that a debt has accrued over centuries of slavery – a debt that has only been deepened by segregation, discrimination, and racist institutional policies that persist to this day. Residual effects of slavery still exist, but too many Blacks seem to be ashamed to demand payment for centuries of slavery, of destruction of our minds and the theft of our culture.
It’s estimated that 30 million descendants of slaves are eligible for $1.5 million each in reparations compensation. American enslavement counts as an obvious rebuttal to claims that this Republic represents “the land of the free and home of the brave.” Sadly, the victims of this calamity feel more guilt than pride and few strive for “reparations” or other restitution to overcome the nation’s uniquely cruel, racist and greedy legacy.
Hopefully, Blacks can bond to get H.R. 40 passed. We all need to get to know and support Congressman John Conyers’ H.R. 40 bill, “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.” The bill establishes a federal commission to review slavery and its resulting racial and economic discrimination. Let’s each initiate local, state and national discussions toward the Congressional Black Caucus’ adaption and eventual Congressional passage of H.R. 40 reparations legislation. A discussion among African Americans about reparations should happen on social networks or whenever blacks get together.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org0