Friday, August 23, 2019

Reparations Won't Make Blacks Whole

So say blacks themselves. It's about recognition, as if America hasn't recognized its original sin by 2019.

At LAT, "Slavery’s descendants say a reparations check won’t make the pain go away":

CHARLESTON, S.C. —  Five years before the first shots of the Civil War rang out from the harbor here in 1861, alderman Thomas Ryan and a business partner opened Ryan’s Mart at No. 6 Chalmers St.
Their merchandise was slaves: African men, women and children who were prodded, picked over and auctioned off to the highest bidders.

The finest adult males could fetch up to $1,600 apiece —$49,000 in today’s dollars. The most able-bodied women could sell for $1,400.

Today, the former showroom in Charleston’s historic quarter, hidden on a narrow lane of row houses blazing with pink blossoms and palmetto trees, serves as the home of the Old Slave Mart Museum.

The museum and other historic sites in the American South lay bare a shameful chapter in the nation’s past, one that’s getting new attention in the debate over whether the government should pay financial reparations to an estimated 40 million descendants of slaves.

Many African Americans in this part of South Carolina support reparations. But they say what they want just as much is for the country to grasp the painful history they live with every day.

Their ancestors often were separated from their children on the auction block. Women were raped by their white owners. Slaves were beaten for waking up too late, not working hard enough or trying to escape. They were stripped of their African names and given the last names of their masters.

The hardship and humiliation didn’t end when the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865. Black Americans continue to endure racist violence, entrenched poverty and inequities in areas such as education, employment and the criminal justice system.

“What the reparations debate is about is not so much people wanting to get money,” said Daniel Littlefield, a historian from Columbia, S.C. “Black people feel they deserve some acknowledgment of ongoing wrong.”

The reparations debate comes at an especially tense time. Since 2016, there’s been a nationwide rise in racially motivated hate crimes. Videos of police killings of African Americans have become all too common. President Trump’s attacks aimed at black leaders and immigrants have kept people on edge...
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