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Why African Americans Deserve Reparation Many white Americans just don't get the concept of paying reparations for racial slavery. Why, they ask, should I be taxed, solicited or be any way inconvenienced for something neither my ancestors nor I had anything to do with? Had they attended the recently concluded National Reparations Conference, pulled together by Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd), they may have heard an answer to their questions. Maybe not. By its very existence, the well-attended, three-day conference revealed that many African-Americans get it. The surging popularity of reparations seems to be inversely proportionate to the falling fortunes of affirmative action, which, with its compensatory logic, was a pale euphemism for reparations. But the pace of its approval has been accelerated by several factors, including the success Holocaust victims have had in winning compensation for slave labor during the Nazi era; growing research revealing slavery's many corporate benefactors; and the stubborn persistence of the wealth gap between black and white Americans. The notion of reparations for slavery is not new. On Jan. 16, 1865, Gen. William T. Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15, which awarded all the Sea Islands, south of Charleston, S.C., and a significant portion of coastal lands to newly freed slaves to homestead. Each freedman was eligible for 40 acres of "tillable ground." The order became known as the "40 Acres and a Mule Proclamation." The order was transformed into Senate Bill No. 60 and although it passed both houses on Feb. 10, 1866, President Andrew Johnson vetoed it. That was the last time, the U.S. government thought seriously about compensating the African-American progeny of enslaved Africans for nearly 300 years of slave labor. Since that time, U.S culture has formed a formidable scab of denial over the angry wound of slavery and Jim Crow apartheid. So impenetrable is this scab, many white Americans either are mystified by blacks' disproportionate miseries or they attribute them to some intrinsic quality (be it genetic or cultural). Blacks often are urged to "get over" race; that is, accept racial inequities as a state of nature and shut up about it. A more honest reckoning of our history would reveal the difficulty of transcending race without some attempt repair the damage done by racial slavery and the structures of racism erected to justify it. After all, African-Americans were created in the crucible of slavery and socialized for centuries by white supremacy. And although most Americans may have had little to do with the cause of that problem, all of us have a stake in its solution. That answers the question posed in the beginning of the column, and it doesn't even address the issue of unjust enrichment that has drawn the attention of a number of attorneys currently working on a reparations class-action suit. J.L. Chestnutt, one of the attorneys involved said, "If we get this together, it would be the mother of all civil-rights lawsuits." Chestnutt was instrumental in helping to win a 1998 class-action suit for black farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for past discrimination. There are many logistical problems involved with this enterprise, for example: who's eligible? How will the resources be distributed? Some of those issues were explored at last weekend's conference but, for the most part, advocates seem concerned mainly with making a compelling argument on the need for reparations.In the last two years those arguments have convinced the city councils of Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, Dallas, Cleveland, Washington D.C. and other smaller cities, to register their support for a languishing congressional bill that, among other things, examines the need for reparations. The bill, introduced annually by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) since 1989, seeks to "establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery ... and economic discrimination against African-Americans ... to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies." Tillman, who earned her stripes in the civil-rights struggle, deserves a few more for helping to push America in the right direction once again .. They lost 2.3 trillion $ the day before 9-11 , pocket the $, That $ could be split to all African Americans In America for raparation ... Thats All , Than We Are done ...

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