Reparations

Africans were stolen from African shores to arrive in America in 1619. For hundred years later we still fight for citizenship rights.

In the 400-year time frame, enslaved Africans were denied citizenship, humanity and dignity. For over 400 years, our very humanness has been denied and questioned. We were denied families as families were intentionally separated and destroyed.

White masters raped women and a new people were born, to be labeled as mulattos, colored, Negroes, African Americans, and a host of other names. Children were denied education; adults were allowed to pay taxes but not have the right to vote.

We have marched, been lynched, had Black Code laws and Jim Crow laws, been legally framed and penalized in a major way for minor crimes, unjustly murdered by the powers that be, and on and on and on.

Black America has fought for every inch of rights and citizenship that we have today. The story of the slave in America is tragic, for a country that proclaims freedom. The enslaved African worked and built this country as free labor.

Slavery is called America’s sin, and it is, but it is also America’s cancer that has had band-aids. Black America has progressed through education as its pathway and into professions.

But some whites, like Mitch McConnell, think that with the election of President Barack Obama as the leader of the free world, that freedom in its absolute sense has been obtained by Black Americans. That’s not true because the economic gaps, social gaps and education gaps still exist.

Mitch McConnell
Reparations are in order. America will never pay Black America for its mistreatment, no matter the generation. We live in relative freedom today, but white wealth is about eight times that of the average African American’s.

Think of education denied. Think of lost opportunities. Think of employment denied. Think of those who have been unjustly sentenced or wrongfully so.

Think of the young Black males who are still terrorized by city policemen. Think of the drugs that have been planted in urban America to guarantee jail. Think of the health treatment that so many Blacks have died from not having.

Think of the hands that picked cotton and were abused and shortchanged for free labor. Think of the hoax of some churches to keep Blacks in a passive place. Think of free labor for hundreds of years no matter how stringent it was.

Think of the denial. Think of the political games still played. We still vote on slave laws to maintain a low Black count, to be out-ruled by state laws. Think of the suffrage at every level. Think of the soldiers who fought wars to come back home to racist America.

Tuskegee Airmen are a great case in point. Black military men denied the right to fly planes, yet when trained and allowed to fly, proved to be the very best and bravest of the lot in World War II. Yet they faced the same racist discrimination when the returned home, heroes or not.

All of this to say that the question of reparations is pertinent. Every presidential candidate should be asked what he or she would do to right the wrong of Black America. How do you pay it back? Can you?

This should be a debate question for a people who have been denied at every turn. In asking the question of reparation, you are really asking America to deal with its ugly past and present of racism. It is an open question that demands answering in 2019, after 400 years.

Hermene Hartman

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