By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
“Reparations is defined as paying some type of monetary compensation for people who have been wronged.”
A United Nations panel of human rights activist asked the United States government to give reparations to the African-American community, who are the descendants of Black Slaves in America.
The reparation-payments would be intended to repair some of the damage done to the African-American community, through various forms of oppression, which includes:
2. Black Codes.
3. Jim Crow.
4. Sundown Towns.
7. The millions of dollars stolen from former Black slaves, by White bankers, and federal officials at the Freedman Bank, during the reconstruction era.
8. Race riots and the destruction of Black towns like Rosewood, and Greenwood, (popularly known as Black Wallstreet), which was a freedom colony in Tulsa.
9. Domestic White supremacy terrorism via the KKK and other White hate groups.
10. Police brutality and mass-incarceration, which disproportionately affect the African-American community, at a much higher rate the rest of the nation’s population. Even though most Black people are in jail and prison for non-violent drug offenses, White and Black people consume drugs at about the same rates, which means White drug addicts are more likely to get rehab and no jail time, while Blacks are more likely to go to prison.
11. The 13th amendment, which permitted prison inmates (who were and are disproportionately Black), to be used legally as slave labor.
12. Historical and present miseducation by a poorly built and broken school system.
13. Housing and mortgage discrimination.
14. The FBI’s (Counter-Intelligence Program) Cointelpro, using illegal tactics to sabotage the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. Even going as far as assisting local police departments in assassinating their leaders, like Fred Hampton, who was the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party.
Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, the chairwoman of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent Committee, compared the many incidents of police killings of unarmed Black men to racially motivated lynchings that occurred in the southern region of the United States, during the height of (racial segregation) Jim Crow.
Mendes-France, the daughter of (Martinican writer, revolutionary and philosopher) Frantz Fanon, did not believe individual checks should be given to the descendants of the victims of American slavery and Jim Crow. Rather, she recommended money be spent on programs that could improve the lives of Black Americans educationally, environmentally, and socioeconomically, something akin to a Marshall Plan for the Black community, which could be used economically rebuild the Black community, the same way the United States’ Marshall Plan rebuilt Western Europe after World War 2.
And for the naysayers who believe this could never happen, there is precedence for the United States giving reparations to American citizens:
1. In 1971 ,Alaskan Natives were given one billion dollars and over 40 million acres of land as reparations.
2. In 1980, the Klamath people of Oregon, received over $80 million dollars in reparations.
3. In 1985, the Sioux tribe of South Dakota, received over $100 million dollars in reparations.
4. In 1985, the Seminole people of Florida, received over $12 million dollars in reparations.
5. n 1985, the Chippewas of Wisconsin received over $30 million dollars in reparations.
6. 1986, the Ottawa people in Michigan, received over $30 million dollars in reparations.
Note: the 1866 Indian Treaty between the United states and the five Civilized Tribes-the Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, Cherokee and the Chickasaw: The Five Civilized Tribes, owned Black slaves and fought for the confederacy against the Union Army to maintain Black slavery in America. After the war, the Five civilized Tribes, continued to maintain Black slavery on their land, even after the South lost the Civil War. Eventually forcing the North to come into their Indian territory to free the Black slaves. The 1866 Indian Treaty, the United States signed with the tribes, required them to free their slaves, and stated the legal obligations the tribes had to their Black Freemen and Black Indians. Not surprisingly, when the tribes started to receive federal benefits, like money and casinos, they kicked many of the Black Indians and Freedmen out of their tribes.
7. In 1990, Japanese Americans, who were placed in internment camps during World War 2, received over one and a half billion dollars in reparations.
8. In 2015, President Barack Obama’s administration earmarked $12 million dollars in reparations to be distributed to elderly holocaust survivors.
9. The JUST ACT : Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (just) Act, which was passed Congress, requires money, property, land and other valuables stolen from Jewish people during the holocaust to be returned the people, their heirs, or Jewish organizations.
To this day, African-Americans still have not received one-single cent for the economic, political and social terrorism that has been inflicted on the African-American people through centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, etc. this is a absolute shame, when you think about the fact that many slave owners who stayed loyal to the Union received reparations for the slaves they freed.
Martin Luther King Jr. Quote on Reparations in 1968:
“At the very same time that America refused to give the Negro any land, through an act of Congress our government was giving away million of acres of land in the West and Midwest, which meant it was willing to undergird its White peasants from Europe with an economic floor.
But, not only did they give them land, they built land grant colleges with government money to teach them how to farm. Not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming. Not only that, they provided low interest rates in order that they could mechanize their farms. Not only that, today, many of these people are receiving federal subsidies not to farm, and they are the very people telling the Black man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.
And this is what we are faced with, and this is the reality. Now, when we come to Washington in this campaign, we are coming to get our check.”
For the people who slavery happened too long ago, Sylvester Magee, who was born around 1841 and died in 1971, was allegedly the last living former slave. Not only that, but the end of the Civil War (1865) and the beginning of the Holocaust (1941) were only about 76 years apart.
For additional information use the link below:
Black History Spotlight:Biddy Mason
Biddy Mason was born into the brutal system of slavery on August 15, 1818.Her exact birthplace is unknown, some scholars believe was born in Hancock County, Georgia, and others believe her birthplace was Hancock County, Mississippi. As a youth she spent most of her time on the plantation of Robert Smithson. In her teenage-years she learned how to perform domestic work and agricultural work,she also learned midwife and herbal medicine making skills from elder slaves, who shared their knowledge that was passed-down to them from their African ancestors. In the 1940s, Mason is believed to of have been given to Rebecca Dorn and Robert Mayes Smith as a wedding gift. While on the Smith’s plantation, Mason had three children, all girls: Ellen in 1838, Ann in 1844 and Harrier in 1847. The father or fathers is unknown, but some historical researchers believe that Robert Smith was the father of a least one of her children.
Biddy’s Road to Freedom
In the late 1940s Mormon missionaries from the Church of Latter-Day Saints passed through Mississippi and proselytized the locals. Some of the locals included Biddy Mason’s slave owner Robert Smith, his wife and their children. There is currently no information on whether Mason or her fellow slaves were baptized in the Mormon faith. In 1947, the Smith household joined with a group of Mormon churchgoers from Mississippi to unite with the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo,Illinois. The group of religious travelers ventured to Pueblo, Colorado, there they would join with a group of very-ill disciples from a Mormon battalion. On the trip further westward, Mason use her healing-skills as a midwife and herbalist to help heal the sick, feed the hungry and to care for the children of the religious pilgrims, she also helped herd the cattle. In 1851, Brigham Young the leader of the Mormon church sent a group of his followers to Southern California, which was a free state at the time. Smith ignored that fact and refused to free hia slaves, once they arrived in the San Bernadino settlement. In 1856, Smith planned to move to the slave state of Texas, where he intended to sell his slaves. Smith would lie to his slaves (he told them he intended to give them their freedom in Texas)to motivate them to make the long and harsh journey to the slave state. Mason of course knew he was lying, and not wanting to be separated from her children, she with the help of some kind-hearted locals, petitioned a Los Angeles court for her freedom and the freedom of her children. On January 21, 1856 Biddy Mason and her children were given their freedom by Judge Benjamin Ignatius Hayes, after Smith failed to show-up to challenge the petition.
The Free Woman, Healer and Entrepreneur
After she gained her freedom, Mason and her daughters moved in with a man named Robert Owens,who was the father of the locally famous Los Angeles businessman Charles Owens. Mason’s daughter Ellen would eventually marry Charles Owens. While in Los Angeles, California, Mason worked as a nurse and midwife and delivered hundreds of babies, she also risked her life to use her traditional-African herbalist healing skills to care for these people with smallpox, during a smallpox epidemic that was ravaging L.A. at the time. Mason saved much of the money she earned as midwife and nurse to become a financially successful real estate Investor, in fact she became one of the first African-American women to own land in Los Angeles. Mason also used the money she earned to become a philanthropist: she gave money to the poor, fed the hungry and was part of a group that founded day care center and school for black children. In 1872, Mason and her son-in-law Charles Owens became founding members of the first African Methodist Episcopal church of Los Angeles, which was also the city’s first black church. The church would be built on land that was donated by Mason herself. Mason died on January 15,1891, a park and plaque is dedicated to her in Los Angeles, California.