Reparations as a Remedy International law supports reparations a bona fide remedy. The compensation for internment of Japanese Americans in the U.S. during World War II, the apology and compensation of the Governor of Puerto Rico for the domestic surveillance of its citizens in the late 1940s, the German government’s various compensation programs following World War II, and New Zealand’s reparations paid for theft of Maori land by the British during the late 1800s all support the idea of reparations as a remedy.
Detractors of reparations— both black and white — trivialize their importance and say that it “reinforces the notion of victimhood” despite the fact that the United Nations and other international bodies contradict this false notion. It is interesting to note how the use of the term “victim” can be distorted in a way that implies helplessness, dependency and weakness. In fact the opposite is true. Rosa Parks was a “victim” of racism, but her bravery ignited the modern civil rights movement. Jews were “victims” of the Holocaust, but it did not prevent them from successfully suing for reparations in a variety of courts. The Cherokee, Choctaw and Lakota were “victims” of genocide yet they have been successful in receiving compensation for the genocidal behavior of the United States toward them. In none of these instances were the “victims” helpless and in all of them, there is an eye toward seeking long-denied justice for their people. So it is with the unpaid debt to the stolen people from Africa.
It is recommended that as a preliminary step in reparations, each of the integral states wherein Afrodescendants reside exempt them from payment of taxes. If the states find that tax exemption is not possible, it is recommended that the entire tax revenue from Afrodescendants be invested back into their communities by the current federal, state and local authorities until such time as Afrodescendants are able to collect and handle their own tax revenues.
It is further recommended that the United Nations create a permanent forum for Afrodescendants, similar to the forum created for the Indigenous Peoples. Since Afrodescendants are a stateless people, they have only the UN to look to for protection. Within a forum, Afrodescendant leaders can peacefully meet together for the purpose of collective decision making. Most importantly, under a UN forum, Afrodescendants will be assured of receiving expert guidance, which is vital to their continued rise and development as a human family.
1 Should America Pay?, Slave Taxes
2. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, a Database on CD-ROM, Eltis, Behrendt, Richardson and Klein, Cambridge University Press, 1999
3. Africans in America Pt.1, Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Web Site, Oct.12, 2005
4. The Negro Holocaust: Lynching and Race riots in the United States, 1880-1950, Gibson, Robert, Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 1979
5. Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center Web Site, Oct. 12, 2005