Reparations, what Black America got coming…


By: Charles Blatcher, III

Chairman, National Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations

What is owed to Black America as a result of slavery is a reoccurring topic of discussion. The United Nations broached the subject recently. The cruelty of slavery is well documented in this nation’s history. The history has not disappeared in spite that some wish it would. Many would like to forget when public whippings, lynchings, rapes and the dividing of families were common. Those memories will never go away and they should not. The period of slavery was the Black Holocaust in America. Like our Jewish Brothers and Sisters say about their experiences, “We shall never forget.”

Drawing on my Native American instinct, spirits will wander until they find the peace of justice. I remember standing in a three story brownstone house built in the early 1800’s that contained a cell in the basement. The late Dr. Jerry Gore, a friend and local historian was maintaining the house as a museum of African American History in the City of Maysville, Kentucky. As we entered the cell he explained it was used to incarcerate slaves. While pointing out what appeared to be blood stains on the walls, you could feel the presents of the spirits. From there, we visited a property that had been in a white family for generations. The family’s ancestors owned slaves. Pointing to an area on the property where a structure once stood as the breeding house where female slaves were brought to be impregnated, he began to cry. He apologized saying whenever he speaks of the inhumanities of slavery he becomes emotional. He invited us to join him and his family in a prayer circle as he asked God’s forgiveness for the sins of his family. Only the most uninformed would argue that true justice has been served.

A precedent was set by the US Government in 1988 regarding the payment of reparation. The government authorized payments of $20,000 each for Japanese Americans who were placed in internment camps during World War II. Let me provide some background for the point of clarity in the comparison I am about to make.

Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japan on December 7th, 1941. In May of 1942 the United States Government ordered all persons in the country of Japanese ancestry be detained. They were transported to one of the ten internment camps constructed and ran by the United States Army. One hundred and twenty thousand people were held until January 1945. In 1988 the government authorized the payment for sixty thousand people were eligible to apply. The Bill allocated 1.3 billion dollars to be paid out over five years.

Slavery in America was practiced for two hundred and fifty years. There has been talk that each Black person should receive a check paid as reparation for the inhumanity of the practice. There are approximately forty million Black Americans. At the rate of compensation given to our Japanese Brothers and Sisters it would cost an estimated trillion dollars. Well, it would be a stimulant to the economy. On the day the checks are delivered, the merchants would have a “Reparation Day Sale.” Big screen televisions, gold chains, big tires and rims, designer tennis shoes, jeans, pocket books and electronic gadgets presented as deals at inflated prices. Ninety-five percent of that money would be out of the Black Community before nightfall.

The biggest losers would be the future generations of our children. When the money is gone, we would still have inferior public schools, violence in our neighborhoods, higher unemployment, a larger number of men incarcerated and poison drinking water in Flint, Michigan etc. We would realize after the fact that we sold out our future claims for equal entitlement.

There is an outstanding debt to the Black Community. The nation’s wealth was accumulated on the backs of our ancestors. However, the payment should not be calculated in dollars and cents. The mistreatment is inexcusable and no amount of money is enough as compensation. Historically our people’s hopes and dreams were for freedom of choice, equal opportunity, liberty and Justice. We should expect and accept nothing less today in the form of reparation.

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