The Quiet Storm

by Jade

When there was no other form of torture left to bestow upon my ancestors they were freed. As a result of the gluttony of, and in the name of profit for Europeans and Colonists, my ancestors were bought, owned, chained, enslaved, packed like sardines, worked, disrespected, natally alienated, tortured, killed, lynched, burnt, looked upon with disgust, treated inhumanely, hated and not educated. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade was the seed of early capitalism. The main organizers of the whole operation were well off already-they were aristocrats, kings, heads of state and heads of church- they were in good shape. They were after better shape. They wanted more wealth. It is my opinion that initially slavery was about money; however, eventually the motivation for the torture behind the bondage was hatred. Even with all the hatred and ignorance, the slave trade still would not have been possible without the support of the governments and major religious organizations of the nations involved. The African American community should be awarded reparations primarily because of the involuntary enslavement, dispersal and inhumane treatment they were victims of for over 200 years, and also because America still owes a debt to the descendants of slaves.

However, as with most all things, there is opposition to the above argument. Controversial author and English professor, Shelby Steele believes, “the demand for reparations is yet another demand for white responsibility when today's problem is a failure of black responsibility”(23). Steele also senses African Americans main reason for wanting reparations is that they, “don't know how to go forward”(23). The notorious author of Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery Is a Bad Idea and Racist Too, David Horowitz argues, “there is no single group clearly responsible for the crime of slavery.” Myron Magnet of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research states, “reparations are based on the premise of victimization, the same hopeless and self-defeating notion that keeps blacks impoverished.” While the ideas being raised in this paragraph are common ones, I disagree with them.

Shelby Steele says today’s problem is a black one; however the root of today is in the past. We didn’t evolve from nothing. My problem is not with blacks of today. My problem is with the slaves and slave masters of the past. The problem I am discussing is the white man’s responsibility, because there were no blacks in the colonial government that allowed and encouraged slavery. As far as African Americans not going forward-that’s a lie! African Americans as a whole are no longer the victims of government inflicted slavery; we don’t have masters, and we are legally allowed to be educated- just to name a few progressions. My comments to David Horowitz are the same as Black Scholar writers, Ernest Allen Jr. and Robert Chrisman. It is obvious no one group is responsible for slavery yet, “the principal responsibility for internationalization of that trade and the institutionalization of slavery in the so-called New World rests with European and American individuals and institutions”(49). Myron Magnet obviously has no idea that a victim is synonymous with sufferer. Slaves did suffer. The ride over was not a comfortable one and neither was the time spent in the fields. According to Harvard scholar, Orlando Patterson’s book Slavery and Social Death, during slavery “the slave is natally alienated and culturally dead”(211). Need I say more?

The slaves of the Trans Atlantic slave trade were bought, enslaved and dispersed. They were profitable property and not people in the eyes of enslavers. However, it should have been recognized slaves were people before they were anything else. No person deserves to be tortured, killed or enslaved because of anything- especially not their dissimilarities. The social death of my ancestors was wrong, but it was profitable. The government allowed it, and the white man stood with his whip while my ancestors continuously bore the pains and sores from the horrible institution of slavery. The horrid treatment of my people while they were the subjects of servitude can not be priced because it was a priceless experience. No amount of money in the world could amount to or surpass the amount of damage that resulted from the slave trade, yet it is time to acknowledge and begin making amends to the African American community.

Thus, America owes the black community. Our ancestors built this country. The slaves laid the economic foundation when they picked the cotton and cut the cane. They didn’t pay the slaves for their work in 1865 when the government freed them. The promised mule and acres never became an actuality. Reparation is long over due. It is often said, better late than never. I agree with this saying because in this case, never is definitely not an option. The time is now.

According to Nigerian Professor Chinweizu, “Reparation is mostly about making repairs; self-made repairs, on ourselves--mental repairs, psychological repairs, cultural repairs, organizational repairs, social repairs, institutional repairs, technological repairs, economic repairs, political repairs, educational repairs, repairs of every type”. I also believe this. It is not a one shot deal. It is going to be a process. The process should include education based programs, scholarship funding, housing opportunities as well as donations to black organizations and organizations that are for the advancement of blacks. Reparations should be made to every aspect of the African American community in need. Every thing done to the African American community should be aimed towards the advancement of it. Where is the resource going to come from? The government is responsible. Every single dollar the government obtains it obtains from Americans in some way. Well guess what? I would rather have my tax dollars support something that is deserved. Reparation of the African American community is more than worth it. Some say it won’t ever happen. Malcolm X once said, we have learned to suffer peacefully(401). Considering the 200 plus years our ancestors suffered rape, death, inhumane treatment, death, bondage, alienation, subordination, disrespect, death, enslavement, bondage, being the property of another, social death and mental handicap, I think we the descendants have been more than patient. The time is now, not never. There has been a quiet storm brewing inside of my community since the 1400’s, and we are about to start pumping up the volume-it’s time!

The Quiet Storm by Jade

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