Perspectives

Payments, pain and suffering: Do Blacks qualify for reparations?

By Ayinde Muhammad | Last updated: May 22, 2014 - 6:00:21 PM

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In history, different peoples all over the world have successfully pushed and advocated for reparations for the mistreatment of their people.

In the book, “Journal of Asian American Studies, Volume 4, Number 3” written by John M. Lui and Gary Y. Okihiro, it states, “After having been defeated in war, few Germans were concerned with the Jewish survivors of their concentration camps. Fewer considered claims for Jewish reparations seriously. Nevertheless, in 1945, Jewish people began raising demands for reparations. In 1952, they obtained reparations via an international treaty entitled the Luxembourg Agreement, which obligated the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) to pay 3.45 billion Deutsche Marks (DM) ($845 million) in reparations to Israel and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (the Claims Conference) for Jewish beneficiaries over a twelve-year period. Politics rather than benevolence forced the Germans to make this decision.”

This excerpt shows that for a twelve-year period, the State of Israel received $845 million in reparations from Germany, after the Jewish people had been forced into concentration camps from 1939-1945 (World War II), or $10.14 billion in the total sum of reparations collected by the State of Israel.

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The Japanese-Americans faced a similar fate during World War II, being placed into concentration camps and poorly treated as citizens in the United States. Marnie Mueller, a guest writer on an online, independent, global newspaper had this to say on February 18, 1999: “The Justice Department closed the books this week on a $1.6 billion reparations program for ethnic Japanese interned in American camps during World War II, and will settle with 181 ethnic Japanese from Latin America who suffered similar treatment.  ‘The redress program made $20,000 payments to 82,210 Japanese Americans or their heirs’, department officials said yesterday.  Under a federal court settlement approved last month, the balance of the fund was left over to make $5,000 payments to Latin American Japanese.”  WOW!

You cannot argue the clear evidence. These two groups both received reparations for being forcibly rounded up into concentration camps. Black people, however, were not placed in camps. Rather, we were ENSLAVED; STRIPPED of our name, language, culture, God, and religion. We as a people have suffered over 400 years of the worst oppression ever experienced by a people, yet we are still fighting for reparations well after slavery and Jim Crow laws. We BUILT this country, so how much does the American Government owe us and for how many years should they reimburse us for our 400 plus years of suffering and being oppressed? Furthermore, what we went through was not just a physical burden, but a system built to affect us mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically and we should receive compensation for such cruelty. Willie Lynch in 1712 spoke to a group of plantation owners discussing this system.  “… I have a fool proof method for controlling your black slaves.

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I guarantee every one of you that, if installed correctly, it will control the slaves for at least 300 years.”

I do not want people to misinterpret what I am saying.  I am not saying that what happened to Jews or Japanese was right, nor am I saying that they never should have received compensation for what their people went through. Any form of oppression towards a people is wrong. However, let’s just be real, you cannot downplay what has happened to Black people! The simple fact is this: if people, who were mistreated for only a couple years, received reparations, what is stopping the Black man and woman from receiving reparations for the four-plus centuries of enslavement and injustice?

(Ayinde Muhammad, 16, lives in Rochester, N.Y. He is also an entrepreneur. Follow him on Twitter: @AYFamilyTies.)

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