$90 Million in Compensation

 

Transatlantic Slave Voyage

I go back and forth with the issue of reparations. Sometimes I feel as though black people are survivors and with their extraordinary resilience to survive they will eventually climb to where they deserve to be. Maybe this comes from a long history of hearing white people tell Black Americans to “get over it.” Then I read stories such as “President Obama will give $90 million to help clear Laos’ unexploded bombs.” When I read this story on CNN Politics I asked myself, “why is it so easy for the United States Government to pay for cleanup in Laos after forty years but refuse to mention the word Reparations and Black Americans in the same sentence? Japanese, Native Americans, Laotians, and countless others received some type of retribution for harm brought upon them. Black Americans are the only group in the United States who involuntarily worked free-of-charge for 246 years, while enduring unimaginable abuse. One can clearly see from the photo that millions of black people did not apply for passports, visas, and arrive in America by cruise ship. They came horizontally, chained in the bowels of slave ships.

In a CNN article, President Obama said, “The US has an ‘obligation’ to help Laos recover from a brutal secret bombing campaign that destroyed parts of the Southeast Asian nation.” My question is, don’t the US have an obligation to help Black Americans recover from centuries of kidnapping, free-labor, terror, and horrendous brutality?

Elise Labott of CNN quoted President Obama as saying, “Villages and entire valleys were obliterated. Ancient plains were devastated. Countless civilians were killed. The conflict in Laos was another reminder whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a terrible toll, especially on innocent men, women and children.” During the slave trade, entire countries were obliterated during US invasions. Innocent men, women, and children where killed. Slavery is a reminder, whatever the reason, took a terrible physical, psychological and economic toll on slaves, their offspring, and future generations of Black Americans here on US soil. All traces of their past has been systematically wiped out.

President Obama talked about how the pledged funds in Vientiane, Laos will be spent. The pledged funds for slavery can be spent exploring the physical, psychological and economic impact of 246 years in bondage, followed by 100 years of Jim Crow. When slavery ended and Jim Crow died, all wealth generated from black labor remained with the United States Government, banks, Wall Street, corporations, various universities, and white families. The remnants of slavery and Jim Crow laws continue to batter the lives of Black Americans today.

Over the years Black Americans, like Laotians were killed by the thousands. The difference is as stated earlier, black bodies generated America’s wealth. President Obama said, “The wounds, a missing leg or arm, last a lifetime and that’s why he dramatically increased funding to remove the unexploded bombs in Laos.” What about the psychological scars of slavery, passed from one generation to the next? Dr. Rachel Yehuda is a professor of psychiatry at Mt Sinai, Icahn School of Medicine. Based on her research, “Trauma is passed through DNA, a process called epigenetic. Trauma not only changes the genes of those directly impacted, but also the genes of future generations.” It is ludicrous to think people could endure hundreds of years of being treated worse than animals and not leave them and their descendants psychologically damaged.

So my question to President Obama and all future presidents how long will you continue to ignore the pain and suffering of Black Americans? How long will you pretend $90 million to Laos and millions to others around the world is affordable because of black labor? When will America give to those who unwillingly sacrificed so much for her?

 

Photo courtesy of Rod Brown at rodbrownsartcollection.com

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/06/asia/laos-obama-aid-package/index.html

http://mynorthwest.com/318684/holocaust-survivors-can-genetically-pass-trauma-down-to-their-children/

 

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Public Note: The opinions expressed in this post are the author’s own, others who comment, and do not reflect the view of Elise Labott of CNN, CNN, Dr. Rachel Yehuda, PhD, professor of psychiatry, Mt Sinai Hospital, Icahn School of Medicine, mynorthwest.com, or any of their affiliates or partners.

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