HR 40 is a bill before Congress to address the question of reparations for ancestors of slaves. I remember the first time that I heard about this concept, I thought it was a very long shot. Further, it seemed that this was something that happened a long time ago and had nothing to do with present day African-American people. Besides, the expense of such an endeavour, it seemed that it was time to “move on” for everyone’s sake. After thoroughly immersing myself in learning more about the history of enslaved people over the past year, the subject was not so clear cut as I had originally thought. Because POC have been held back from gaining monetary wealth since the moment they were captured in Africa, they find themselves as a race far behind whites. Subsequent to that were the Jim Crow laws, the Great Migration, Red Lining and their being cut out of the GI Bill, which sent countless white GI’s to college and a better chance at more lucrative jobs. And lets not forget the less than average educational experience for a typical Black child, whether its in the rural south or some large city: it puts these children at an even further disadvantage than most white children. I might also add here that a Texas congress person in the early 1800’s just flat out said ,”This country exist souly to benefit white people only.” He was honest, anyway. All of this means that beginning from day one and up until today, African Americans have had to work harder than almost any white person for each and every dollar that they earned-not to mention all the obstacles that white society has put in their way. This is not a popular notion for a lot of white people, particularly for white people who have admirably scratched their own way out of their own poverty, and overcome incredible obstacles. I can’t and won’t argue with them about this experience, but rather remind you that as a race, Black people have been held back from gaining assets and education for over 400 years.
Reparations are not a new concept , nor is it a concept that hasn’t already been put in place by the US government in the past. I’ll mention three examples. Japanese-Americans who were interred during WWll were awarded $20,000 each for compensation. Along with the monetary grant to each of them, came a formal apology from the government. And although the 40 Acres and a Mule plan put forth my General William Tecumseh Sherman never came to pass, there was actually reparations paid in the South-to Southern Plantation owners to help to rebuild their dynasties that had been built on the backs of “their” unpaid slaves. In 1862, before the Emancipation Proclaimation, President Lincoln ‘s”Compensated Emancipation Act” was pushed thru congress. Over a million dollars (value at that time) was paid to slave owners as compensation for the loss of their slaves. Again, in 1862, the Homestead Act gave away to white settlers 80 million acres of land for virtually nothing . To quote the language of the act, it serves to “undergird its White peasants.” All this was happening at the same time that the government refused to doing anything for the Black population. Whenever a race of people are faced with a destruction of life, spirit, their culture and their identity, they are due for reparation-meaning the repair for damages inflicted.
This is not a new issue. Not by a long short. Back in the late 19th century, there were a few cases of former slaves that had been kidnapped back into servitude that later sued and won compensation for their sufferings. In modern days I refer you to the very eloguent and powerful article by Ta-Nahesi Coates that was published in the Atlantic 2014. Here is the link. This is not an easy or short article to read, but it should at the least give you something to think about. This issue will never go away. And it shouldn’t. Here’s the link
This is not by an stretch of the imagination an easy subject for the American people to address. I will admit that I do not see or understand all the factors here. What I do know is that it needs to be looked at with empathy and real compassion for those among us who have been subject to racism. As I said a few lines up, this issue will not be going away.
Before leaving you this week, I’d like to briefly touch on how we’re able to provide you with real food without the use of extra heat or artificial light. The short story is that some plants, like kale and spinach have a special antifreeze system that concentrates the liquid within the plant cells thus changing the freezing point of the moisture. Here’s a link that I use every Winter that can explain it all better than me.
Please stay safe. While it looks like we’re gaining on the virus, now more than ever its imperative to keep wearing mask and maintaining social distance. Many of us are going to refuse the vaccine, which means that the danger will exist for a while (I’m not in a position to say how long, of course).