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View Poll Results: What do you think about the Reparations Issue?
I believe in Reparations 3 42.86%
I don't believe in Reparations 4 57.14%
I am undecided about Reparations 0 0%
I know nothing about this issue 0 0%
Voters: 7. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 03-31-2002, 11:57 PM
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Jose Jose is offline
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Thumbs down Reparations: Valid Issue or Shake Down?

The issue of Reparations for African-Americans resurfaced earlier this week, when attorneys filed law suites in Brooklyn Federal Court against, Fleet Boston Financial Corps, Aetna and CSX Corp, maintaining that these companies "built their empires on the backs of slaves and must now give their heirs past wages and profits gained as a result of the free labor."

Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, a 36-year-old Manhattan lawyer who spent five years researching evidence that the companies assisted in the business of slavery said "They earned money through the exploitation of my ancestors." The suits say that "From 1790 to 1860 alone, the U.S. economy reaped the benefits of as much as $40 million in unpaid labor. Some estimate the current value of this unpaid labor at $1.4 trillion dollars."

Other proponents of Reparations say that the affects of slavery still linger to this day and say that money is not really the issue. That the principal of justice, holding someone responsible for slavery is at stake.

But opponents of Reparations contend that it is too late in the day to sue anyone over slavery. The statute of limitations has run out over a century ago. That those affected by slavery are no longer around to make a claim for reparations, and that they are the only ones so entitled to do so. And that current proponents of reparations are only seeking to execute this new get rich quick scheme. Still other opponents point to the fact that the U.S. government has tried over its history to make up for slavery through its various social programs such as President Johnson's Great Society and the Anti-Poverty Programs which sprang from it.

The Problem With Reparations:

1. Those affected by Slavery have long been dead. They were the only ones directly affected by slavery and hence the only ones who should rightfully seek reparations.

2. Most Americans today are are not decedents of those who implemented slavery. Americans today are ancestors of those who immigrated from Europe, the Caribbean or South America. Are they to pay too?

3. Their is a large African-American middle class in America. While Africa is still a struggling third world economy. This is not to justify slavery. But the standard of living is better in the United States. Is this a basis from which to ask for reparations, a better standard of living than in African?

4. Many whites died during the civil war to free the slaves, are their descendants to pay for reparations too?

5. Reparations continue to make African-Americans play the role of victims.

6. Most Americans will not be willing to pay for Reparations.

7. Reparations can open a can of worms unprecedented in American history. What if the Irish, Italian, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Danish, etc.. start law suites because of the persecution they suffered upon becoming new immigrants in this country? Will everyone have to pay everyone else?

8. Those pushing Reparations are likely to benefit the most because they will also control who gets it. Meaning their institutions (money will be funneled to their institutions) and not the general African-American public will obtain the money.

9. Reparations is not justice. Justice at this point in time can not be obtained as those affected have long been dead. And they are the only who can bring forth this issue.

10. Reparations is more likely to start another "civil war" as most are not willing to have their hard earned money given over this issue.

11. Why isn't an Apology being request? The request for money has a hint of opportunism with it, not to mention the specter of greed.

12. Everyone is likely to pay the reparations, guilty or not, past, present and future included. Meaning that since reparation money will come from tax money (the people, remember, the government doesn't create anything), all will be part of this great pick pocket scheme. So that even African-Americans will be subject to paying into this tax. Is that justice? And if some are not to pay the tax, how is that decided and by whom?

It's time to move forward. Time for the African-American middle class to start the process of educating all in what it took to get there and how to do it. This writer has a few African-American slaves in his ancestry, but has not desire to use an issue to benefit from that fact. Like everyone else on this planet who struggles daily to make a living, I'd rather do it myself. This writer does not trust reparation seekers to have be sincere in their "quest for justice" especially as money is involved.

Lastly, reparations would create another injustice, that of having those not guilty of slavery paying those not affected by it. Will my grand children be allowed to sue those accepting reparations over the injustice of my having to pay for it?
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  #2  
Old 04-11-2002, 11:32 PM
gourlay gourlay is offline
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Exclamation Slightly canted

If your going to hold a poll you might want to have a slightly unbiased preface to it. But hey...to each his own.

I'm curious if you're opposed to reparations because you see them as a money making scheme, or are you opposed to the idea of the US officially acknowledging slavery as an injustice and admitting the negative impact it has had on all generations of African Americans since then. It is of course true that numerous ethnicities have suffered incredible hardship in this country, some more than others, but no minority group has experienced the extent of systematic repression as African Americans have. Or at least I believe so.
Also, in the discussion of reparations, the apology aspect of the issue is incredibly significant. There is alot more to the topic than just the money.

I don't mean for this to be lengthy but your various points in the poll caught my attention. The question of a statue of limitations is interesting. With Jews and Japanese Americans, reparations or acknowledgement was about the individuals who were survivors. But these were cases of relatively short term hardships (I have no intention of diminishing the significance of the holocaust or interment camps) but with Native Americans, there seemed to be a recognition that the hardships caused to them, were over such a period of time and so brutal, that some type of reparation was appropriate to all living Native Americans. When these cases were decided I don't believe there were any survivors of the repression the cases were argued over.
Finally, and this is really my last point on the matter - many corporations that profitted from slavery are still in existence and quite appropriately could be targetted for reparations, and I believe they currently are. But if reparations are to happen, I think they need to be thought of as a healing process for a society which right now has a large tear in it. This is not about punishing all others. It is about healing together as a society and growing closer. If reparations are not framed in that mentality, then I would have to agree with you in many regards - people would be punished for something they had nothing to do with.


I loved to here your response. I do think the issue is incredibly difficult and not very clear at all. There are numerous questions and a million ways to answer them, but they need to be payed attention to really carefully.

Also, I've only recently moved to East Harlem and I've just come across your site. From what I've seen so far it's great and seems to have the potential to utilize the web in its greatest capacity. Thanks.
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  #3  
Old 04-16-2002, 03:07 PM
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Jose Jose is offline
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Hi Gourlay,

About the poll, I wasn't trying to do a scientific one, I just wanted to know what people thought. About your remarks, I will answer them later this evening, very thought provoking though.

Jose
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  #4  
Old 04-17-2002, 09:13 PM
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A day late, but here goes....

Reparations rightfully went to the Japanese and others because they were the ones who suffered the injustice, not their decendents. The decendents heard about the injustice through history, but were not entitled to any money.

In the case of Amercian Slavery, all that remains are the decendents of those who were enslaved. Those enslaved are no longer around to make a claim due to the injustice. I find it hard to see the legitimization of a claim 4 to 6 generation down the line. In that time, those who cause the injustice have died off as have those who were enslaved. Who is around to make a legitimate claim?

This is not to say that African Americans have not suffered societies' injustices. They have. But not the injustice of slavery itself. Therefore no legitimate claim to the reparations due to those originally enslaved.

About the "healing process" that reparations would bring. I have doubts about that. What is more likely to happen is that the rest of the country not agreeing with having to be held up, with build a strong resentment toward the African Americans. This would cause all sorts of problems with funding of everything dear to the "entitlement" crowd.

It would be unfair to sue companies involved in slavery as they are not the same people running the show now. A company loosing money to to being sued will lay off people of all colors and again, people of color will suffer unemployment. Not exactly the result wanted by the reparations crowd.

Quote:
It is of course true that numerous ethnicities have suffered incredible hardship in this country, some more than others, but no minority group has experienced the extent of systematic repression as African Americans have.


This reminds me of the old arguement of "I am more oppressed than you". I use to hear people posit this silly statement in the late 60s. And I came to the conclusion that we are all oppressed by virtue of being separated from God. No one is more or less oppressed than others. The systematic oppression you speak of can be mostly claimed by American Indians (yeah I know, it's not PC, but one get's tired of all groups constantly changing their identificiation as if mere words could affect thier lot in life).

I am not unsypathetic to the plight of African Amercians, Puerto Ricans (of which I am), or others. It's just that concentrating on the past never lets one move forward. I believe that ideas such as the Empowerment Zone are where we should all be headed. Programs with a good idea and great accountability. I fought hard in the 70s and 80s to have African American leadership on East Harlem's community boards. I help elect Greg McCants to the School board and thrice support David Givens to the chairmanship of community board 11. I work in Harlem itself.

It's just that I believe that Reparations are wrong, would be another injustice on those of us who had nothing to do with slavery and it not the direction in which the African American community should go. Some of my great grandparents were African slaves. And I see myself as a New Yorican. I am puzzled by this new "Afro-Latino" thing which I completely reject. I am Latino and nothing else. The term Afro-Latino is an attempt at cooping Latinos into some one else's agenda.

Hope I answered your concens. Write back. This is interesting.
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  #5  
Old 04-18-2002, 10:44 AM
gourlay gourlay is offline
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Maybe I am naive about reparations regarding it's actual impact. The idea and concept behind reparations though, I do fully support. I realize that the majority of the country does not support reparations but I think this is not due to validity but rather ignorance. Most arguments against reparations I have heard have a similar idea to what you have written: why punnish thoughs who have nothing to do with slavery. It seems to me that the reality of it is that the issue has nothing to do with punishing anybody - this is not about blaming. Reparations is about African Americans and society - as a whole - acknowledging and trying to mend a hole.

Now, your point about all are oppressed. I may not share your religious views but the idea I do understand. Your point may be true philosophically or in the grand scheme of things, but on a practical level I think it would be a bit ridiculous to think that all ethnic groups share the same amount of repression. I've never agreed with the idea that we should just forget the past and all start fresh, it is misleading and dangerous. Simply, if you forget the past you forget all the mistakes we've made. More importatly, the past is a real thing and those mistakes have real consequences today. I would not suggest getting hung up on the past or letting it keep one from moving forward but I would suggest recognizing the role it plays.

Also in this society, your ancestry plays a big part in determining your status. Inheritance is deeply ingrained in the U.S. African Americans, as a group, have been here for four hundred years - and the majority of the time have been denied the right of accumulating and inheriting. This may be the most direct connection to present day African Americans.

I am curious what you think about "reparations" regarding Native Americans. It is interesting because it is the closest situation to reparations for African Americans. The Native Americans who benefitted were not the ones who were directly impacted by the policies of the colonists and the early American governments.

One other little thing. I'm not a big fan of PC but the Native American thing is interesting. As I understand it, Native Indian isn't just no longer PC it has never been accurate. When Columbus hit America he thought he had found India. When he saw the Native Americans, he called them Indians. So I would imagine the term could be fairly insulting since it was created out of ignorance by one of the worst men our history has to offer.

Let me know what you think.
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  #6  
Old 04-20-2002, 12:11 AM
Antonio Rivera Antonio Rivera is offline
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Dear Gourlay:
I read with great interest your remarks and interactions with Jose on this reparation quesiton. I will not reply to the reparation question here. To see my point of view see my reply to Kirston I beleive was his name. Or follow the tread to Jose's original question and see Kirsston (I probably have this name wrong but If I go back I loose this one so, so be it).
I just wanted to commment on your last remark regarding Columbus as one of the "worst men history has to offer." I think that the things that resulted from Columbus and his men were bad and not benificial to the natives in the lands he visited. I wish that it were different and that he and his men would have had our present day understanding of humanity and respect for other cultures. I truly regret the outcomes of his missions to a point. But to be honest, if he didn't visit the lands he did and if things haddened happened the way they did, I would probably not be here. This is selfish of me, I know, but I enjoy being here. It is OK to not like something about your ancestors but I feel odd wanting different outcomes that would jepardize my existance.
Secondly, I do not feel it is correct, right, honest, appropriate, or brave to impose our thinking and understanding on persons of another era and time. It is as it you are saying "Columbus should have thought this or that." He like us could not because he is a man of his time and a product of his time just like we are of ours. Imagine if our great-great-great grandchildren acccuse us of eating animals or walk on flowers as if it were a self evident truth we should have known about and accepted that these things were wrong! When we impose our norms on others of the past, we are saying," We are not like that, we know better and would never do such a thing." But we are them and will also be products of our times knowing less than (in a relative way) than our prodigy will. We we say we know better, we set ourselves up to be judged by future generations. The standard we use is the benchmark that will be used to judge us, so be careful how you judge. Of course I am not saying not to be curious and not to questions and remark on things observed or known. Just that judging our past too critically can have (please forgive me for this) a smugness to it that appears to say I would never have fallen for this or that, and the truth is if you were with Columbus you would have been thinking like him and his times.
So that is why I have a problem with people judging historical figures too critically because it seems to imply that the figures in questions should have known better, but they couldn't. Much of what we now know was learned and accumulated from lessons learned in history from the mistakes and successes of men. There was a process of learning and time involved. We can not say to the number two, "you are not good, you are not number 8!" But 8 is built on two and for that it owes something to 2. Conversly, I am a descendent of the mix of people that resulted from the actions of people like Columbus. No Columbus, no me. I have respect for Columbus and his men even if I feel uncomfortable with some of what he did. I can not say to my tongue, "I hate you and reject you for cursing in anger." It is my tongue and part of me and so I have to deal with it.
I am not saying to ignore historical facts or not to question, but to be careful how you judge because it really reflects and mirrors you more than it corrects history.
Que viva Columbus!
Antonio ;----)
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  #7  
Old 04-21-2002, 04:21 PM
gourlay gourlay is offline
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Antonio
The comment was really only to explain where the term "Native Indian" came from and why it could be considered offensive. I understand your point but as far as I am aware Columbus began the destruction of the Native American, which in itself is a horrendous act.
I agree that when looking at history one has to take into consideration the times and ways of people. But I don't think that in itself is enough to accept all historical figures and their actions. Ever read "A People's History of the United States of America" by Howard Zinn? It's a good read. I believe he suggests that Columbus was a little more than just a man acting according to the norms of his time. In all times, including presently, there exists ruthless, self-centered, dispicable people. They act in horrible ways. Their is almost always a context to put their actions in but they are still horrid actions. And look at how we remember Columbus. We don't say: here was this man who acting according to the norms of his time began the destruction of a people. Instead we celebrate his birthday and honor him as the "founder" of this land.
I've rambled a bit but I hope my point is clear.
thanks for the response.
I am hoping that we'll get back to the reparations issue.
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  #8  
Old 04-21-2002, 09:40 PM
Antonio Rivera Antonio Rivera is offline
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Smile

Dear Gourlay:
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I definitely get it when you say that in every age there are ruthless people, and this could have been Columbus. So I think that is a fare and probably true statement and fact. I have not read the book you mentioned but will try to get it to read. Sorry I downloaded on you. Take care and lets keep the dialogue going.
Antonio:---)
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  #9  
Old 04-27-2002, 10:01 PM
Antonio Rivera Antonio Rivera is offline
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Talking Happy Birthday

Dear Gourlay;
Here is wishing you a very Happy Birthday. I hope you enjoy your day. Have many many more.
Antonio
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Old 05-16-2003, 12:31 AM
Lourdes Lourdes is offline
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Thumbs up reparations response

First, I think it's really too bad that we as minorities don't back-up reparations for African Americans. Blacks have been the minority mostly disregarded and pushed to the "back of the bus" while the rest of us minorities move on.

Secondly, I think many people forget that Latino's have received "reparations', although it may not be labeled this. A good example of this is seen with ESL (English as a Second Language) and/or bilingual education programs.

People that have a second language receive free English classes, along with 4 hours free babysitting and free food once a month (adults). What has the Black community received for their dislocation/enslavement.

Re. reparations should go to the people that actually suffered the condemnation. The reason why this point isn't valid is because it is illogical. If no laws were in place to protect Africans how could they have received reparations? Also, many people don't capture the impact slavery had. It didn't affect just the people that were captured and brought over as slaves. It has affected generation upon generation of Black familes because upon capturing Africans and enslaving them this destroyed the family unit. Also, Africa is not made up of only one language; therefore, when the slaves came over they could barely communicate with the people of their same color, unlike the Vietnamese, Chinese, etc. Also, slavery was not very long ago. We can still see its effects, just look around poor areas, look at the family devastation within the Black community. Where is the help?

Blacks have been completely overlooked in our society. We are all aware of the fact that each time there is a new wave of immigrants that arrive in the US they have ALWAYS taken front seat to the African American.

I do believe in reparations and I believe we can all be a part of it. One form is to reach Black children. My heart cries out when I see Black children being forced out of classes and schools because they are not bilingual and therefore they don't get special attention---this is ABSURD! I believe there should be a revamping of ESL and bilingual education so that it incorporates African American children and families.

Many people get hung up on the name and argue that "bilingual" means the person must speak a second language, but that is merely a linguistic term and can easily be changed so that Black children could also benefit.

How? Maybe offering Black children tutoring for Math, English, college prep, etc. Also, just like Spanish families receive 4 hours of free baby-sitting daily, offer the same to African American families. I'm sure many African American mothers and fathers could use that help!

I think most of us forget that many cultures have received a form of reparation, linguistically it just goes under a different name: Cubans-political asylum, Latinos-bilingual and ESL education; Asians-many benefits that I am just learning about.

What have African Americans received---What welfare? PLEASE! Yes, a degrading form of help.

I support African Americans and in my field (ESL) I am always putting a voice out there and asking "what are we doing for the African American community." Although I get many a raised eye-browe because people look at me as if asking, what does ESL have to do with African AMerican. And I believe A LOT! Because if one LARGE Group (all non-English speaking minorities) can receive help from the government, there is ABSOLUTLY NO REASON why African Americans cannot be included!


Lourdes

Last edited by Lourdes : 07-12-2003 at 07:03 AM.
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  #11  
Old 07-15-2003, 08:25 AM
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Jose Jose is offline
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Lourdes,
Thank you for your contribution to this topic. It is appreciated. I did not follow your reasoning as to how bilingual teaching could assist the African American population. Bilingual has to do with language and you are mixing it up with other benefits. I just found it hard to follow. You are mixing apples and oranges.

You also mention that African Americans have recieved nothing. But that is not true. The war on poverty spent billions on and in the inner cities of the 60's and 70's. Billions have been spent on the 60's onward to help us all. Even I benefited with a mostly free private school education, paid for by the State of New York.

And if you ask middle class African Americans what is really needed, you may find that they will say "Financial Management Toos and an Education". And when it comes to education, if the system is not good enough, don't wait on it. Teach yourself.

With so much free knowledge out there, there is no excuses not to be educated. We minorities have got to stop waiting on society to move us upward. To para phrase Malcolm X, "we got to do it ourselves".
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