Day by Day

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Passing Thought on Slavery Reparations

With the latest hubbub on states apologizing for slavery, the inevitable topic of slave reparations came up.

So, a question. Since it's apparently fashionable to debate whether or not people who never owned slaves (or rather the government of the same) shall be required to pay money to people who were never slaves (and having the same government, will thus be paying themselves?)...

Just how far back are we going to take this?

Will Egypt be sending a check to Israel for the enslavement of the Jews during Pharoh's time?

Will Italy be issuing checks to the bulk of the Western European world for what the Roman Empire did?

The ancient Chinese empire held slaves...

The Greeks.

Various African empires.

Where shall everone file their paperwork and what forms will be required? Do we just take it to the appropriate embassy?

Will we be paid in the ancient currency, or current coin... adjusted for inflation, of course?

Just how far do we extend responsibility for past actions to those currently alive? If we're going to discuss extending responsibility for events over a century ago... why not two centuries? Three? Twenty?

Or, perhaps... we can focus on taking responsibility for our actions now... and to each our own responsibilities.


Mary*Ann said...

While gold coin might be tempting...the paperwork!!! Think I'll just get on with it and go to work.

MissBirdlegs in AL said...

This is one of the more asinine things I've ever heard of - thought that back a few years when I first heard of people asking for such a thing. Hope VA hasn't set a precedent that others will feel compelled to follow. An awful lot of people today totally disgust me!

blair said...

In the United States, free blacks and Native Americans as well as whites owned slaves. About 6 percent of whites owned slaves and about 1.6 percent of free blacks owned slaves. (Some of the South's biggest slave owners and land owners were free blacks.) American Indian tribes owned slaves before and after the European discover of the Americas. Since slaves tended to be tribal property, it fair to day nearly 100 percent of Native Americans were slave owners. (The Cherokees were the last to give up their slaves. Following the Civil War, slavery was still legal on tribal lands. The United States ended slavery within its borders by purchasing slaves from Indian tribes. The Cherokee, who wer the last to give up their slaves, recently voted to deny tribal membership to the descendants of Cherokee slaves.

Whites particpated, along with every other race, in slavery when it was a global institution, but whites were the first to abolish slavery. European nations used their military power to virtually abolish slavery around the world. Now that the Europeans have abandoned their colonies, slavery is making a strong comeback in Asia and Africa. Between 200,000 and 800,000 people, many of them children, are trafficked each year just in Central Africa. This far exceeds the number of slaves transported annually to the Americas at the height of the Atlantic slave traded. (About 10 million were transported to the Americas over a 300 year period. Most went to Latin America; only about 500,000 came to the United States.Thousands of white slaves--not to be confused with indentured servants--were also transported to the Americas.

The Atlantic slave traders did not raid African villages to kidnap or captured slaves; they purchased slaves from the African tribes. The ancestors of African Americans were slaves in Africa as well as the United States.

African Americans enjoy a much higher standard of living than Africans whose ancestors were not transported to the United States; this makes them beneficiaries rather than victims of the slave trade.

Mary*Ann said...

Different but the same: lawsuits against paint companies...for lead paint in old houses...sometimes 100 year old houses. (?)