Broken Promises, Reparations there is a renewed willingness on the part of both governments and corporations to provide compensation for injustices in other contexts. Often it has taken the form of cash payments or other benefits to victims of Nazi and Japanese atrocities during World War II. Some have sought to return land to native peoples, while others have simply offered apologies. Apologies have been offered for a wide range of past injustices done to Jews, Korean women, Native Americans, and South African blacks. The U. S. government apologized for its role in overthrowing the native government in Hawaii and the elected government in Guatemala. ” (Arthur, 2007) In appearing to act in the interest of former slaves government raised reparations as a subject and passed laws directing compensatory payment after the Civil War. Former slaves needed footing to function on an economic and social level in this nation. Laws stipulating compensation be disbursed in the form of livestock, monies, lands etc. were passed. In 1865, the original reparations package, the so-called “40 Acres and a Mule,” was issued.
Each black family was supposed to receive 40 acres and later was offered the loan of Army mules. The same year, Congress established the Freedmen’s Bureau, which was created to oversee the transition of slaves to freedom. The goal of the Freedmen’s Bureau was to distribute 850,000 abandoned and confiscated acres of land to former slaves. But the distribution never happened. Former Confederates were allowed to reclaim the property. ” http://www. alternet. org/story/11000 Broken Promises, Reparations 3 At its root reparations was an idea government pretended to embrace.
This appears to be evident in taking the axiom “Actions speak louder than words” into account. The legal mandates for reparations that were voluntarily passed by government were not empowered to transform the law from writing to realities the former slaves would experience. 136 years having passed without a blade of grass, a single dollar, mule or apology does not reckon favorably in African American’s minds, especially when government is noted to have apologized to other ethnic groups and disbursed funds and resources as a part of those apologies.
“Under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, the U. S. government apologized for Japanese American internment during World War II and provided reparations of $20,000 to each survivor, to compensate for loss of property and liberty during that period. For many years, Native American tribes have received compensation for lands ceded to the United States by them in various treaties. Other countries have also opted to pay reparations for past grievances, (see Holocaust reparations)”,(http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Reparations_for_slavery).
Anti-reparation activists decry the idea that African Americans living today should receive compensation for experiences they did not endure. Descendants of slave owners who had nothing to do with slavery should be exempt from any responsibility for debts incurred by their ancestors is another anti-reparation argument. While there may be merit to the idea that public policy should not function like a curse a legal basis for the call for Broken Promises, Reparations 4 reparations were passed.
The failure to perform to meet the purpose of the law for 136 years does not nullify the nation’s duty to meet the duties it has already legislated. is was objectively The problem is there were laws passed that would have settled the call for reparations a century later if they’d been enforced. The idea of a mass of property and money going to African Americans is exacerbated by the fact that African Americans weren’t the only ethnic
Blacks were the only group enslaved under the authorities of legislation. When bringing the holocaust associated with slave trading to mind African Americans justification for compensation are all the more strengthened by the weight of conscience. The number of slaves lost in transporting, some to mass killings draws spiritual and legal issues into the debate. The killings of slaves to appease economic concerns of slave traders is an embarrassment to arguments seeking to deny reparations. “Heading for Jamaica in 1781, the ship Zong was nearing the end of its voyage.
It had been twelve weeks since it had sailed from the west African coast with its cargo of 417 slaves. Water was running out. Then, compounding the problem, there was an outbreak of disease. The ship’s captain, reasoning that the slaves were going to die anyway, made a decision. In order to reduce the owner’s losses he would throw overboard the slaves thought to be too sick to recover. The voyage was insured, but the insurance would not pay for sick slaves or even those killed by illness. However, it would cover slaves lost Broken Promises, Reparations 5 through drowning.
The captain gave the order; 54 Africans were chained together, then thrown overboard. Another 78 were drowned over the next two days. By the time the ship had reached the Caribbean,132 persons had been murdered. (http://www. alternet. org/story/11000/) The abolition of slavery, laws authorizing reparations that were not enforced, mass murders of large numbers of slaves and the government’s perpetuating injustice against Blacks through legalized segregation and discrimination expand the scope of what was originally “purposed” to address those who were directly affected by slavery.
The government’s failing to enforce reparation laws it instituted over 100 years ago gives African Americans pause to reason the nation must be forced to meet its obligation. The lack of a single conciliatory act, including a lack of an apology has direct bearing on African American’s being reconciled to America. The arguments for and against reparations may impress some as having equal weight along moral, ethical and legal lines. As time has passed benign neglect of what reparation laws has given place to arguments anti-reparation activists use in their efforts to frustrate the campaign.
The claim that the current generation of African Americans should not be compensated for what they did not suffer was made possible by the government’s purposefully ignoring its own legislation for over a century. This is an enhancement of moral grounds to campaign for reparations today. Having made accommodations for Japanese internees, funding billions to ameliorate injustice for others Broken Promises, Reparations 6 in foreign lands, etc. magnifies the call for government to fulfill obligations imposed by laws stipulating reparations.
Randall Robinson has joined the fray with his book, “The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks” (Dutton, 200) Robinson writes: “No race, no ethnic or religious group, has suffered so much over so long a span as blacks have, and do still, at the hands of those who benefitted, with the connivance of the United States government, from slavery and the century of legalized American racial hostility that followed it. It is a miracle that the victims — weary dark souls long shorn of a venerable and ancient identity — have survived at all, stymied as they are by this blocked road to economic equality. ” http://www. alternet. org/story/11000/”.
The blocked road for African American reparation is the ever growing cacophony of reasons why there is no plausible means to reason from whence the compensation should be drawn. There is a web of issues too complex to hope to resolve in this argument. “One additional problem is that the governments in power in the 1600s and 1700s in Europe are not still in power now. ….. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to hold the current French government liable for the enslavement of Africans that previous governments encouraged and benefited from between the 1600s up to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. ” http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Reparations_for_slavery”.
The point counterpoint of the argument is gnarly and complex complicating the call for reparations. “One additional problem is that the governments in power in the 1600s and 1700s in Europe are not still in power now. ….. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to hold the current French government liable for the enslavement of Africans that previous governments encouraged and benefited from between the 1600s up to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. ” http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Reparations_for_slavery”.
The point counterpoint of the argument is gnarly and complex complicating the call for reparations. Broken Promises, Reparations 1 Broken Promises, Reparations For African Americans Customer’s name Course name Professor’s Name Date Broken Promises, Reparations 7
http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Reparations_for_slavery
http://www. alternet. org/story/11000/ Arthur John (2007) Race, Equality, and the Burdens of History, State University of New York, Binghamton