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Joe BidenCongratulations to our presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden!

Response to Honeycombe8 (Reply #8)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 09:55 PM

9. It's late - in your opinion


and probably in the opinion of the majority of people in a majority white country. It's late because we lack the political will, interest, and commitment to justice to pursue this, but not for any other reason.

As I mentioned before, you are assuming the form that reparations would take (payments to individuals) and what they would be based on (enslavement). This is an oversimplification of the issue. The crimes against humanity (a term you have avoided) against black people did not end with slavery. These included lynchings, redlining and disinvestment, federal government and local police collusion in assassination attempts against black leaders, ethnic cleansing of whole neighborhoods and cities (i.e. Rosewood and Tulsa), among other things.

As long as you insist on oversimplification of the issue, narrowing the issue artificially to individual payments to formerly enslaved people (who, by the way, in many cases can be identified, as in the Hemmings family branch of the Thomas Jefferson lineage), yes, the issue will appear even more vexing than it is. Have you read about any models for truth and reconciliation and/or reparations? There are certainly strategies that favor community reinvestment over individual payments. Healthy communities benefit everyone, and we should be redoubling our strategies to help stressed communities that have been negatively impacted by redlining, predatory subprime lending, deindustrialization, job discrimination, and the like.

I do agree that reparations probably won't happen, that in this country's climate, silence and denial are preferred over a difficult national conversation, even among folks who describe themselves as political progressives. Former President Clinton got roasted publicly over the essentially cost-free idea of a public apology for slavery. So if you think that federal efforts to account for the financial and ethical costs of slavery are indefensible, you're in good company. And forgive me for being excited that Senator Warren is a rare figure, even on the Democratic side, who is open to this conversation. As much as DU seems to cheer on the Congressional Black Caucus when it suits our argument of the moment, the CBC is not cheered when they re-introduce legislation pertaining to this issue.

I would be very open to a conversation about the treatment of women in this country - and of course, this includes black women, who often endured similar or worse indignities and denial of justice. I'm not down with the whataboutism, though. Rather than comparing oppressions (the proverbial oppression olympics), it makes more sense to me to evaluate one issue at a time, particularly since this issue was brought up in the OP. Sure, there were many horrendous things in our country's history, and as part of a general philosophy of recompense and reconciliation, I fully support the restoration of fishing rights for first nations in ceded territories and payments to Japanese Americans who were interned. I certainly would not dismiss out of hand ideas for compensation or national conversation that came out of feminist or other women-centered activism.

But at the end of the day - as I mentioned several times before - it's not just about the money. It's about honestly accounting for crimes against humanity that continue to produce unfavorable collective results. And I agree that at this point, action on this issue is unlikely to occur, because even on a Democratic site, any implication that black people will directly benefit collectively from a piece of legislation raises hackles. At least it's safe to say, these days, that most posters will not rationalize the frequent killing of unarmed black citizens - only a few insist in those rationalizations in view of the copious visual evidence of how extralegal some of these killings are. But I agree with you in that I have very low expectations of the American public to take an interest in accounting for crimes against humanity against black people. And your posts provide additional support for my assumption.
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