Jamaica Talks Reparations, So What About Us?

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jamaica reparationsA few Jamaican lawmakers recently announced a quest to explore reparations for the transatlantic slave trade.  This is the second effort to discuss reparations, after the first one failed in 2010 due to financial difficulties.  The effort involves the restoration of a commission that will investigate the issue and possibly ask for compensation from Britain or repatriation of some Jamaicans to Africa.

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Some people might believe that Jamaica is not the only country where its citizens deserve reparations for slavery.

African Americans continue to endure the consequences of the slave trade to this day:  Whites have a wealth level that is several times higher than our own, we don’t have the tax base to afford quality schools, and most of the major institutions in the United States are run by Whites.  In fact, most African Americans work for predominantly White-owned companies, and the majority of them don’t get the opportunities they deserve.

These institutional disparities didn’t create themselves.

And in spite of what White Supremacy 101 teaches us, inequality is not the result of laziness or a lack of discipline on the part of African Americans.  Instead, the disparities are the result of a nation’s 400-year commitment toward creating a society in which one group lives in a way that is superior to another.

The United Nations and other parts of the world have noted the impact of slavery on American racial disparities, but the United States, a country that regularly claims the moral high ground on human rights violations around the world, is unable to see violations of its own: Not only have reparations not been paid to people of color, whose families experienced undeniable abuse at the hands of slavery and Jim Crow, but our nation has even refused to apologize.

Another atrocity for which reparations should be demanded is the CIA’s role in looking the other way as crack cocaine was allowed to flood the Black community during the 1980s.

It is well-documented that the CIA allowed puppet rebel groups in South America to fund their wars by selling crack in Black communities.  The rise in crack distribution, along with the loss of jobs, the presence of high-powered weapons, and a weakened educational system turned many prosperous Black neighborhoods into instant war zones.

The U.S. government’s role in allowing for crack cocaine distribution, in conjunction with mandatory sentencing during the ineffective War on Drugs, has created a mass-incarceration epidemic that has destroyed millions of Black families across America.  As a result, millions of children grew up without their Fathers, and many of them never made it to adulthood. Our communities are not always good places to live, and there are elitist government officials who were never held accountable in the same way they would be if they were young Black men carrying crack through the hood.

Some would even say that it’s as if the powers-that-be sprayed our community with a virus and then burned us alive to kill the infection.   That’s what happens when you plant billions of dollars worth of drugs and weapons into a community and then lock up a large percentage of its citizens for the possession of the very same items you’ve planted.  Yes, we have legitimate reason to be outraged.

All of these issues must be laid on the table if we are to truly discuss racial healing in America.

Any talk about a post-racial America can never occur if our government refuses to even apologize for what it’s done and help to repair the damage.  But America is a country that is largely built on lies, and perhaps it’s high time that we start telling the truth.

Sound off here:

Watch the University of California, Santa Barbara discuss the legacy of slavery and reparations here:

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Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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