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Reparations Re-Visited

TAKING A LOOK AT THOSE WHO HAVE RECEIVED JUSTICE AND THOSE WHO MAY NEVER  

Valerie Dixon

I nearly fell off my chair when shortly after his father’s killing, Bin Laden’s son was crying out for justice for his father.  Two acquaintances of mine lost their sons, who worked in the twin towers, on that fateful Tuesday morning September11, 2001.  Those men and thousands others, to my mind, never asked for such a fate and I have no idea if their families have received justice or may never receive justice.  Like the rest of the world, I wait with bated breath to see how the events in the Middle East will play out.

   I now find it quite interesting to take a look at some of those (past and present) who received justice and compensation and those who may never receive justice and compensation.

        In case you have never heard of her or of her story, I’ll give a brief summary.  Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old when she was kidnapped on her way to school.  She was not seen or heard from again until 18 years after her disappearance.  It is reported that Jaycee was enslaved in a shed in the backyard of her captors.  It is said that she was made into the couple’s sex-slave and that her two daughters were fathered by her male captor.  Incidentally, her captor lived with his wife in the house on the same premises.

        I read extracts from her interview and noted with interest that she was never sent to school, but that from her limited education she was able to teach her children how to read.  Jaycee was lucky in that she had access to books and that her captors did not deny her the privilege of reading and being able to pass on information to the next generation.

        Jaycee also had access to pen and paper and she kept a diary in which she wrote and here I paraphrase what she wrote.  “How can I ever tell them how I want to be free?  I will never cause him pain if it’s in my power to prevent it.  Just want to be free.  Why don’t I have any control of my life?”

        Jaycee and her children were miraculously (my word) rescued and she has since been reunited with her family.  She was a grown woman at the time of her rescue.

        The now former Governor of her State has approved and signed a 20 million dollar settlement.  He said the money is to provide reparations for her family for the perceived injustice and cruelty done to her while she was in captivity.   The State Authorities, in a memorandum, admitted that the case has a unique and tragic character.  It went on to say that no amount of money could make up for the horrible treatment and conditions that Jaycee was forced to endure, but they hoped that the reparations money could help her and her family to rebuild their lives.

        Those who care to read and learn from History may know that many non-European countries had to pay reparations to their conquerors to cover the cost of wars that they never initiated.  For instance, Haiti had to pay reparations to France; China had to pay reparations to Britain for the Opium War of 1842.  Germany paid to France, Belgium, Italy and Britain during World War 1 and again after World War 2, to the Jews for their horrible ordeal during their Holocaust.  Iraq is paying reparations today with the wealth from her oil, to Americans for the “reconstruction” of Iraq. 

 I also will mention that the Roman Catholic Church has agreed to pay large sums of money, as reparations, to the victims of “priest abuse”.  This Church has admitted that no amount of money can make up for the psychological distress the victims have endured.

 

        Another group that received reparations was the mainly brown planter-class in the West Indies, when Britain decided that there was “bigger fish to be fried” elsewhere on the planet.  So in 1838, she gave only emancipation to her former slaves and reparations as compensation to the mulattoes, quadroons and octoroons who were the progeny of (often times raped) black nameless slave women and the white men who our history books describe as “absentee planters”.  (Sensible white wives stayed in England with their fully white children.)  Jamaica’s national hero George William Gordon is a classic example of this kind of union and his white father bequeathed a lot of estate to him.  A number of families of this nature are still able to play all day, because the reparations money was put in Trust Funds that will continue to bear interest for many more generations to come.

        My wide reading has enabled me to look at the flip side of this argument as I came across an article entitled “Lest we conveniently forget”.  It began with an advertisement placed in a newspaper in 1833 which said “Public Sale of Negroes by Richard Clagett” from South Carolina.  I will cite a few examples from this advertisement for the purpose of looking at the treatment meted out to Africans during slavery and which treatment some people are totally indifferent to, up to this day.

“…Miscellaneous lots of Negroes mostly house servants, some for field work.  A valuable Negro woman accustomed to all kinds of work.  She has four children.  Two of the children will be sold with the mother, the others separately if it best suits the purchaser.

…Also for sale 2 likely young Negro wenches one is 16 and the other is 13.  The 16 year old wench has one eye.  (Jaycee Dugard is so lucky.)

…Owner of a Negro family needs money and is selling the entire family.  The man is 30-33 years old and is a house servant and carriage driver.  The wife is a likely wench of 25-30 and is trained as a chamber maid, seamstress, nurse etc.  and they have two girls.  This part is interesting – they are bright mulattoes of mild tractable dispositions, unassuming manners and of genteel appearance and well worth the notice of a gentleman of fortune needing such.” (I rest my case.) 

        I now have a better understanding as to why the ruling class in Jamaica and elsewhere, had to bring down and destroy Marcus Garvey through lies and propaganda.  He tried his best to educate us to the fact that we must respect ourselves and take pride in our history as Africans, because we were transformed into slaves for one reason and one reason only - that we had the knowledge, skills and expertise to grow and manufacture commodities demanded by those who did not possess these attributes.  Instead, the Europeans had two things- weapons of mass destruction to force our ancestors onto the slave ships and other Blacks who co-operated with the slave-traders and later their masters and who were oblivious to the far-reaching psychological and emotional damage these two things were to have in the far distant future.  So many millions of lives irrevocably changed.  So many millions, who like the victims of 9/11, never asked for such a fate and like Jaycee Dugard, must have wondered why they had no control over their lives. 

        In nearly all cases, the cry for justice, compensation or reparations is a fair cry. Whenever funding is being sought from local and foreign agencies, it should be viewed as being akin to the progeny of those who have been wronged, receiving reparations; it is money to help people “rebuild their lives” (like Jaycee Dugard) and foster communal self-help and sustainable businesses and projects.

 Incidentally, all persons mentioned earlier, who have received reparations have one thing in common – they are all white or acting white.  It is amazing how some are willing to help and grant funds to some and yet are totally insensitive and/or ignorant to the holocaust of Black people’s ancestors and to some of the atrocities being perpetrated against Black people today in various parts of the world.

          Black people are judged by some as being ignorant and stupid.  However, the truly ignorant and stupid are the ones who fail to understand that Black people know that they live in a world that has no justice and equality for them.  Anger and resentment are now hard-wired into the DNA of some and they have removed themselves from main stream society a long time ago.  If main stream wants them to go right, they are going to deliberately go left, leaving many frustrated and antagonistic towards each other.  No justice- no peace.

        This is very sad and unfortunate, because by removing themselves from mainstream society, many Blacks, especially the young ones, have become belligerent and ambivalent to the things that would enable them to use reparations in a meaningful and sustainable manner.  Too many Black youngsters are naïve to the benefits of education, good family values, ethics and morals.  (Our ancestors were not as fortunate as Jaycee Dugard, who had access to pen and paper and could teach her children how to read and write and so pass on knowledge to them.)  As a result, many Black youngsters today are totally disconnected from their ancestral roots; family values, their history, culture and all things that give meaning to life.   They are like chaff, empty husks just blowing in the wind.  Their lives have no value, so material things, especially those with designer labels become things to die for and some do literally die.   

  Many Black leaders today can’t help the younger generation, as they don’t seem to have any gumption and with very few exceptions, are not very inspiring. Many do not care to ask for reparations, because they are already (personally) heavily compensated materially, from selling out their country’s natural resources to the ‘powers that be’ and look out from ‘contented’ distances at the injustice, inequality, squalor and deprivation that are the lot of millions of their Black brothers and sisters. 

Their justification is that their God has blessed them and not the majority of the human race.    To this, one can only say may communal and self-help principles live on forever, so that those who are awake and those who can be awakened, will realize that it is through these attributes and principles taught by leaders like Marcus Garvey and many others, that our hope for survival rests; even if Black people are those who may never receive one cent for reparations or one ounce of justice.

 

 

Link to read other works by Valerie Dixon

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Zulu Publications.

Last up-dated  2011

By Valerie Dixon

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