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jahnai
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« on: June 19, 2006, 04:40:54 PM »

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Derrick Jackson
The Boston Globe
   
  For the most part, people who call for reparations for slavery are written off as the lunatic fringe. Many white Americans say that reparations are impossible because the slaves are dead, that most white Americans did not own slaves, and that the ancestors of many white Americans immigrated here after slavery.  They say that loss of 600,000 lives in the civil war is all the apology African Americans deserve.
  Some African Americans agree. Writer Stanley Crouch, who often accuses African Americans of whining, said: “We don’t need a victims gold card, and we don’t need people feeling guilty about slavery;  the whole idea of guilt just makes people madder.”
  The issue is that white Americans are walking around with a gold card that is not fully theirs. While the slaves are dead, white Americans continue to benefit from the blocking of African Americans from full stakes in the economy 134 years after emancipation.  The benefits for white Americans remain so large that economist David Swinton, a contributor in the book The Wealth of Races, wrote:  “Equality is not likely to be obtained without some form of reparations.”

  The slavery south was the fourth largest economy in the world, bigger than any European nation except England.  White Americans who claim no ties to slavery should consider Robert Fogel.  In his 1989 book, Without Consent or Contract, he wrote that cotton “was the essential raw material for hundreds and thousands of factory hands in the north and Europe.  It provided employment for several million other workers in transportation, in handicrafts, and in…trade.”
  Most of the millions of workers were white.  Not to mention the northern bankers, insurers and shippers who dominated the cotton’s export.  Slaves came to constitute 15% of private assets in the U.S. economy, according to The Wealth of Races.  The total benefits of slavery to the national economy between 1790 and 1850 were three times that of immigrant labor.
  The final value of slave labor is almost incalculable.  The face value of American slaves in 1860, 1983 dollars, was $17 billion.  Assuming that the money that slaves produced for others from 1790 to 1860 grew in the economy, economists, using conservative compound-interest rates, calculate that the value of such income by 1983 was $1.4 trillion to $4.7 trillion.
  After emancipation, the income of black people jumped to about 60% of white Americans from 22%.  But racism kept African Americans from closing the gap in pay.  Government-approved housing segregation, property redlining, and job discrimination that cost African Americans at least $1.6 trillion in lost wages from 1929 to 1969 ensured that African American homeowners enjoyed far less wealth accumulation in the 20th century than white Americans.
  The World War II generation will be passing on $8 trillion to their children.  The average white baby boomer stands to inherit $65,000, according to researchers for the federal Reserve Board.  The average African American baby boomer will inherit only $8,000.
  Many white Americans argue that 600,000 lives lost in the Civil War are reparations enough.  That avoids the fact that at wars end the Confederacy’s white land owners got there land back, while African Americans were given virtually nothing, forcing them into serfdom and sharecropping.
  People who scoff at reparations simply don’t want to face the fact that the gaps created by slavery and maintained since are so wide that the social programs of the 1960’s and 1970s were “puny compared to what is required to correct the historical wrongs,” according to Swinton.
  Swinton estimated a decade ago that even if one considered all social programs from1953 to1983 as “reparations”, the back/white wealth gap was still $500 billion.
  Deciding what constitutes reparations is complicated, but no more than the path that America to become the richest nation on earth. In The Wealth of Races, economist Rob Browne wrote that the goal of reparations should be to restore the black community to the position it would have had if had not been subjected to slavery and discrimination.”  Thus reparations are not a crazed search for a victim’s gold card; they would be America’s recognition that white wealth is based, to a horrendous extent, on black credit.



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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2006, 12:58:44 PM »

Good article. It isn't for whites to figure out the 'how' of reparations, but to forward the principle. Material injustices can only be made right materially, not with empty apologies.
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