Friday, February 26, 2010

Reparations

Earlier this week on Facebook a friend of mine, Von Jackson, posted an article titled "Malcolm X's legacy ignored 45 years after his murder" spurred some interesting conversation. The conversation started about the role that Malcolm X played during the struggle for Civil Rights but it quickly morphed into generation wealth and reparations due the black community for the slave trade. I had asserted that Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam used violence, at times, to make their point. To which I was told, "Chris, please LEARN and STUDY Malcolm X before you comment. Its obvious from you statement you know little to nothing about him except what you've seen on tv or read in white slanted literature." Now I respect the person that wrote this comment a lot and he and I have had several intense conversations on race. I asked him to "enlighten me" to what I should read as I admit I do not know Malcolm X like I do other historical figures.

To which my very good friend pointed out a biography and the Spike Lee movie. Well I have already seen the movie and have added The Autobiography of Malcolm X authored by Malcolm X and Alex Haley. We then went on to discuss the last time the Nation of Islam used violence. To which I pointed out that D.C. Sniper John Muhammad was a member when the rampage took place. While no direct line has ever been established between Muhammad and the Nation of Islam (NOI), neither has the leaders of the NOI distance themselves from the actions taken my Muhammad. But I did agree with my friend that we were digressing from the original intent of his article.

At this point in our conversation another friend of Von's chimed in with "Wow Chris, slavery is what made this country so rich, and is what keeps this country strong, by enslaving people all over the world, and stealing their natural resources…" and ended with "I would like you to explain to me how capitalism ended slavery..this should be interesting…(Please note I call bullshyt an awful lot, I debate on Fox News all the time, and shut them up, never losing an argument…so please make sure you have your facts straight when talk to me..)" As many of you already know I love a good challenge. Before I could retort, it was pointed out by my friend that "it was because of CAPITALISM that slavery was introduced to and flourished in this country for over 400 years…" I pointed out, "In short capitalism allows anyone to change their status in life. Capitalism is a two way street as the rich can become poor and the poor can become rich. That is how capitalism is not enslavement. Now mercantilism is what built this country at the start. The freedoms of our Constitution launched us into class movement that greases the wheels of capitalism. Thus no longer enslaving us. Now government intrusion to limit free market forces has lead to enslavement and add in entitlements."

I was told my assessment was wrong and "we are living under a system that is more akin to a Plutocracy, you are allowed to get rich in this country, as long as the already rich see that your wealth in no way henders their cause…" After which further conversation took place on conspiracy theories of 13 families controlling the world. After which the slavery angle reappeared and that it was on the backs of evil slave owners that worked their slaves to build this country. After discussing Aetna(http://www.aetna.com/news/2002/slavery_reparations_issue.html) and Wachovia Banks (http://money.cnn.com/2005/06/02/news/fortune500/wachovia_slavery/ ) role in building their business through slavery to which we found out that Aetna wrote policies on slaves and Wachovia's ties to slavery is through two acquisitions made after slave ownership took place and did not exist at time of acquisition. From that point we moved on to reparations.

I asked Corey, one of the other men participating, "Why is your anger focused on those just in America and not toward those that sold your ancestors into slavery?" I never did get a direct answer to this question; rather I got more deflection. Finally I asked, "We can either live in the past or look to a brighter future. Which one do you want to live in Corey?" Finally Corey gave a laundry list for reparations. Corey's list was:

  1. 1 trillion dollars in gold, and precious metals
  2. Whites relinquish all powers they have on Africa
  3. At least half of the nuclear weapons in the USA
  4. The release of all nonviolent blacks from jail
  5. 100 billion dollars for machinery to fix the lands of Africa
  6. Free transportation, back to Africa, for those that want to go
  7. An apology for slavery, and to change the history books to reflect the truth
  8. No sanctions on any nations of color
  9. Just basically stay out of our way, once we get what is owed to us

Is Corey asking for anything outrageous? Should America agree to the terms above for the sins of slavery? Does the list of reparations above move us to a post-racial America?