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Reparations For Descendents Of African Slaves In America

3249 words - 13 pages

Reparations For Descendents of African Slaves in America

Slavery has been entwined with American history ever since Dutch traders brought twenty captive Africans to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. Slavery in America is a subject with minimal truths and stories rarely told. The public school system excludes the fact that eight of the first twelve American presidents were major slaveholders. Emancipation brought freedom, but not approximation. The civil rights movement killed Jim Crow, but shadows remained. Affirmative Action created opportunities, but racism continues.

So why shouldn't the great-great grandchildren of those who worked for free and were deprived of education and were kept in bondage not be compensated? Why should American taxpayers who never owned slaves pay for the sins of ancestors they don't even know? Ask one question and it leads to another. How would the economy be affected? How do you put a price tag on over two centuries of legalized inhumanity? In what form would reparations be paid? How would you establish who is a descendant? Questions start debates.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines reparations as the act of making amends for a wrong. Money paid by a defeated nation in compensation for damages caused during hostilities, is also included in the definition.

It is essential to locate the claim for reparations within a framework of law and justice. The following four propositions are truths that attempt to conceptualize a legal framework for the formulation and prosecution of the claim for reparations.

First, the evil enslavement of Africans was a crime against humanity.

Secondly, domestic and international law recognizes that those who commit crimes against humanity must make reparation. Thirdly, there is no legal barrier to prevent those who still suffer the consequences of crimes against humanity, from claiming reparations even though the crimes were committed against their ancestors. Fourth, the claim would be brought against the United States government which promoted and was enriched by the African slave trade and the institution of slavery.

These four propositions are public policy issues that public law makers and public managers should be aware of. Millions of African Americans are in support of this never ending issue. Draft resolutions are being formulated. Increasingly, city council members are considering resolutions calling for compensation to the contemporary victims of American slavery and the century of discrimination that succeeded it.

The enslavement of Africans was a crime against humanity is the first proposition. The United States government has never acknowledged or taken responsibility for its role in the enslavement of Africans and the promotion of white supremacy. The mass kidnap and enslavement of Africans was the most wicked criminal enterprise in recorded human history. No compensation was ever paid by any of the perpetrators to any of the...

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