A man I have known since grade school changed his name, years ago, to an Arabic one. He told me he rejected Christianity as “the white man’s religion that justified slavery.” He argued Africans taken out of that continent were owed reparations.
“From whom?” I asked.
Georgetown University leaders have done much in recent times to make amends for the institution’s involvement in slavery, but after a cadre of slave descendants recently said those efforts are not enough — they still want cash — campus leaders have pledged to continue to work “toward reconciliation.”
Bristol taxpayers in 2015 were still paying off debt borrowed by the government to “compensate” slave owners in 1833, the Treasury has revealed.
The revelations show that the £20 million (US$28 million) the government spent to reimburse the owners of slaves – who themselves were some of Britain’s richest businessmen – took the taxpayer 182 years to pay off. The descendants of slaves were never compensated, but it appears some would have been paying to compensation slave owners.
The information was revealed by the Treasury under a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, the Bristol Post reports.
Should you apologise for the crimes of your ancestors? And should the state make financial reparations to atone for such crimes?
These two questions have arisen after Jamaica’s National Reparations Commission called upon the British prime minister, David Cameron, to ‘apologise personally’ because ‘his forefathers were slave owners’. Jamaica’s president, Portia Simpson Miller, has also raised the issue of Britain paying financial reparations to Jamaica, as recompense for Britain’s role in the slave trade.
The two answers here are – obviously – no, and no. First of all, you can’t apologise for something you didn’t do. It’s an effortless and insincere gesture, serving only to make any ersatz penitent appear virtuous – saying sorry for a bad thing you have actually done takes real courage.
Real repentance leading to racial reconciliation demands restitution for victims of oppression and injustice, Wendell Griffen told a Hardin-Simmons University audience March 23.
“The work of healing what has been wounded, righting what has been wronged and restoring what has been stolen or destroyed requires doing justice and the ethics of restitution, reparation, restoration and reconciliation,” said Griffen, pastor of New Millennium Church, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship congregation in Little Rock, Ark.
“Until we do these things, we have not engaged in biblical repentance, no matter what else we may have accomplished”…
And what gives him the right to “forgive” something that was not done to him nor done by any person alive now. It’s tribal talk. Besides, affirmative action is exactly that: restitution.
A photo of an abandoned building in Chicago from Coates’ article , which is somehow related to slavery in the 19th century in the southern US.
There was no more important and prescient piece this year than “The Case for Reparations,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It dropped a couple of months before the world heard of Michael Brown or Eric Garner.
But it in many ways prefigured the explosion of anger that followed these killings.
In it Coates, who is fast becoming our most indispensable public intellectual, makes a cogent and in many ways unassailable argument that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and deeply racist policy in housing, policing, education and beyond make reparations necessary.
“Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole,” he writes.
Source: ‘What We’re Reading’ Newsletter, New York Times, Dec 23, 2014.