Just Don't Call It 'Reparations'
by Clarence Page
"Have you heard of Irish amnesia?," a jolly Irish-American friend once joked. "It's when you forget everything but the grudges."
Indeed, I responded, a lot of us black folks can identify with that: We forget everything but our "40 acres and a mule."
That, in case you haven't heard, is the legendary promise that was made to freed slaves but seldom carried out beyond some truncated efforts by Major General William Tecumseh Sherman and the Freedmen's Bureau.
A century and a half after the Civil War, talk of slavery reparations has faded. Since the original victims and perpetrators of what antebellum southerners politely called "peculiar institution" have long since passed away, even die-hard activists sharply disagree on actual damages or possible remedies.
Yet The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates has revived that conversation with a new angle. In "The Case for Reparations," a provocative 18-page cover story in the magazine's June issue, the senior editor and blogger focuses less on slavery than on its legacy, particularly the trickery and policy choices that systematically denied equal protections and opportunities to descendants of slavery.
After Ku Klux Klan terrorism, political disenfranchisement and
Later came low-interest FHA and
In fact, the practice of "redlining" black neighborhoods out of conventional mortgage and insurance benefits began with federal policy,
How well I know. As a young reporter in the 1970s, I covered the consequences of those racially biased policies in such impoverished
But what is to be done? Here
Having watched Conyers' bill repeatedly fail to make it even to the House floor for debate, I don't expect it to have better chances in the foreseeable future.
As a result, I finished
Such talk helped set the stage for a later revolt by 26 states, largely controlled by Republicans, that refused to participate in the health plan's expansion of
The uninsured include hundreds of thousands of cooks, cashiers and nurses' aides. It is no wonder that talk of slavery reparations has faded. Support for low-income workers of all races needs repair right now.
Available at Amazon.com:
- Tightening Whose Belt?
- Three Felonies a Day
- Reviving the North Korea-Iran Axis?
- The Pentagon Makes War on Alaska's Pristine Wilderness
- There's Still Time to Prosecute the Torturers
- The American Way of War in the 21st Century
- After Baltimore, a Call to Reclaim Mother's Day
- Venture Capitalists Rule the World
- The Weakening Foundations of Western Power
- Cuba's Coming Out Party
- Authoritarian Symps
- Celebrating Wars & Destruction
- Boston Marathon Bombing Trial: Search for Justice and Closure
- Yes, Black America Fears the Police
- New Boston Bombing Video
- Obama's Last National Security Strategy
- What We Lose with a Privatized Postal Service
- Wal-Mart Does Something Right
- Guantanamo Bay's Place in U.S. Strategy
- The Intersection of Three Crises
- Taking on 'Mayor 1 Percent'
- Obama Honors Chicago's Pullman District
- Chicago Police Testing Body Cameras
- Judge Says Chicago Cubs Can Keep Building Wrigley Signs
- Illinois Last, Best Chance?
- Bald Eagles Nesting in New York for First Time in 100 Years
- NYC's 911 System Overhaul $700M Over Budget
- Chicago Police Testing Body Cameras
- Obama Corrects a Historic Mistake on Cuba
- Why Obama and Congress Should Go Further With Cuba
- U.S. Cuban Relations Reimagined
- China and The United States
- Tensions in the Arctic
- Ebola and Moral Panic
- What West Africa Can Teach the U.S. About Ebola
- Everything Wrong with Obama's War on ISIS
- Maya Angelou was Deeper than a Pithy Quote
- Give Killers Coverage, Not A Soapbox
- Our Culture Behind Wisconsin Girls' Stabbing Case
- Are Hispanics in Danger of Becoming White?
- Obama Outlines the Limits of Foreign Intervention
- Just Don't Call It 'Reparations'
- Small Men with Ugly Thoughts, Expressed Aloud
- It's Time to Show Our Veterans Some Love
- Justice for All, Except Those Too Big to Jail
- On the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
- Policing Thought Crime
- Turmoil and Intimations of Gender Bias at The Gray Lady
- Jayson Blair and All The Lies Not Fit to Print
- Mental Illness and Guns have Created a National Epidemic
- Army of One
- Mass Killers Hold Culture and Country Hostage
- Florida Governor Takes Deep Dive into Climate Change
- Charlie Christ Flip-Flop is a Bad Idea
- Botched Execution Should Be Death Knell of Capital Punishment
- Cruel and Unusual Ways of Execution
- Bring Back Firing Squads? We Do Worse
- Clayton Lockett: A Just Execution, Regardless
- Supreme Court Rules 5-4 on Public Prayer
- Supreme Court Rules on Public Prayer -- But Should It?
- John Kerry Warns of Excessive Isolationism
- Obama's Foreign Policy Nonexistent
- On Race: Meet Dumb and Dumberer
- Believers in U.S. Decline Will Be Disappointed
- A Nation Divided with Liberty and Justice for Some
- Can Ethnic Hate Be a Mental Illness?
- Pulitzer Committee Makes Stand for Free Press, Accountable Government
- NRA Members Need To Step Up on Ending Gun Violence
- Military Chief's Plea: Put Returning Soldiers to Work
- Home from War, Our Soldiers Continue to Die
- Better Gun Laws Needed to Protect Mentally Ill and Rest of Us
- Guns: Monsters in Our Midst
Article: Copyright © 2014, Tribune Content Agency
"Just Don't Call It 'Reparations' "