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Reparations debate: Mitchell/Steinberg

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Despite naysayers, push for reparations will forge ahead

October 3, 2006
BY MARY MITCHELL Sun-Times Columnist
I wouldn't be so quick to say reparations won't happen.

This isn't a subject that is going to go away just because a lot of white people and some blacks oppose it. The reason it's not going away is because slavery and its aftermath is this nation's unfinished business. Sooner or later, we're going to have to deal with it.

Although some ridicule the federal lawsuit filed on behalf of slave descendants, and a federal appeals court may throw out its claims, that won't end the matter any more than ridicule and dismissals stopped the battles to end school segregation and separate accommodations.

Legal battles over blacks' rights are nothing new.

In From Slavery to Freedom, acclaimed historian John Hope Franklin describes the course of white supremacy -- which used the court system to uphold its racist policies. After the Civil War, state constitutional conventions wrote into their law a guarantee of white supremacy, Franklin noted.

"Once the Negro was disfranchised, everything else necessary for white supremacy could be done," Franklin said. "With the adoption of new constitutions, the states firmly established the color line by the most stringent segregation of the races; and in 1896 the [U.S.] Supreme Court upheld segregation in its "separate but equal" doctrine in Plessy vs. Ferguson.

"Separate but equal" was simply morally wrong.

So while white racists reveled in their victory for decades, the legal challenges continued despite the naysayers. In 1952, the NAACP brought things to a head with five cases it gathered from across the country that challenged the concept of separate but equal. In 1954, the Supreme Court outlawed segregated public schools.

A critical voice removed
That's how it's been for black people.

They have to go to court to ensure their rights as a group.

So it really doesn't matter what individuals think or that some black people agree with whites on the reparations issue.

As long as there are soldiers like Antoinette Harrell, Queen Mother, Dr. Delois Blakely and Deadria Farmer-Paellmann -- some of the plaintiffs in the current reparations suit -- who are willing to bear the barbs and suffer the disappointments, the reparations movement will continue.

My only disappointment was that Appeals Court Judge Ann Williams, the only African-American jurist on the court, recused herself from the case. She did so without offering an explanation.

That leaves us to speculate that Williams removed herself because she's a black woman and most likely a descendant of slaves. I called her office on Monday looking for clarification. Williams declined to comment, and thus far, she has not issued a statement about her decision.

That's unfortunate because hers was a critical voice.

Indeed, Judge Richard Posner's question to the plaintiffs shows what plaintiffs are up against.

"If you think you've been wronged, it shouldn't take 100 years to investigate the conduct of the accused companies," he said at last week's hearing.

The argument that a people who were still fighting for civil rights could wage a simultaneous battle seeking redress for slavery may be legally relevant, but it defies common sense and mocks America's violent racial history.

Can you imagine what would have happened if such a suit were filed in 1906? Instead of nasty e-mails to newspaper columnists sympathetic to the cause, there would have been lynchings.

A wide gap between blacks and whites
It also isn't surprising that some black people are siding with whites who oppose America paying reparations for slavery.

There were black people who didn't want to leave the master's plantation when slavery ended. There were blacks who didn't want to agitate for the right to vote, or join the demonstrations at lunch counters.

There were blacks who thought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a rabble-rouser.

And there will always be whites, like some of those who responded to my column, who think blacks, as a race, are undeserving of reparations.

For instance, Billy G. wrote in an e-mail: "The Jews have been successful in the face of all the difficulties you list. Blacks despite enormous wealth in Africa and government assistance for many years are unable to even care for themselves for the most part . . .

And this one from Donald N. in Alsip: If living in America is so woeful for yourself and other blacks why don't all of you just pack your bags and leave? How many more years will you use the excuse of slavery for black crimes and black underachievement in academics?

I could go on, but I won't. The words are different. The tone is the same.

When it comes to reparations, there's still a wide gap between blacks and whites.

Still, whites can't see into the future any better than I can.
Katrina shows why reparations won't happen

October 2, 2006
BY NEIL STEINBERG Sun-Times Columnist
Opening shot

The fall session of the U.S. Supreme Court begins today. On the docket are a pair of cases -- from Kentucky and Washington State -- that ask whether public schools can consider racial makeup when deciding who gets in and who doesn't.

Conservatives are hoping to undermine the very idea of pushing for school integration, which has been a hotly debated element of urban education for the last 50 years. The cases stem from complaints of parents of white kids who couldn't get into the schools they wanted because they are the wrong race. The issue boils down to this: Which is more important, addressing past wrongs or treating people fairly today?
'A foreign land'
History is not a place. It does not exist, physically. We can go to the battlefield at Gettysburg, but the battle is no longer there. It exists only in our minds, in school books. It is a fact, a memory.

It is also an argument. Take the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Was it a necessary act of war? A superfluous atrocity? That depends on whether you are an American soldier who would have died invading Japan or an 8-year-old girl horribly burned by radiation. There is no right answer; the matter will be debated until the end of time.

It will be debated because the argument of history leads to policy in the here-and-now. The dropping of the bomb affects Japan to this day -- it has no nuclear arsenal. A meaningful choice, symbolic and apt, and their decision to make. If you, however, suggested that because the United States dropped the bomb on Japan, it bears a unique burden of guilt and should -- for example -- charge lower taxes on Japanese imports, I know several veterans who would argue about that.

Similarly, the slavery reparations movement argues that because of the horror of slavery, the U.S. government and such businesses that can be traced back before 1865 should give a share of their wealth to African Americans living today, to make up for the value of their ancestors' work and the capital that wasn't created or passed along.

There is a case for this. While every other immigrant group -- from the Irish and the Italians to the Cubans and the Cambodians -- managed to start climbing up the ladder of American success, too many in the African-American community are left behind in a sinkhole of poverty and despair, broken families and drug addiction. What is this, if not the legacy of the nightmarish dislocations of the slave trade and the century of deep racial bias that followed?

I agree with that. What I don't agree with is using the historical fact of slavery as the moral imperative to do something about problems of today. Primarily because it won't work. If our community is not motivated to help children living right here, right now who are poorly educated, living in poverty, and facing a bleak future, based on these facts alone, then how will raising the specter of long-ago crimes spur action? It won't.

Reparations will not happen, and I can explain why in two words: Hurricane Katrina. If the government cannot start to adequately help a relatively small and localized group of African Americans who through no fault of their own had their homes destroyed by a devastating blow of nature, not in the 19th century, but just last year, then who -- excuse me -- but a fool would go around advocating that it commence some grand wealth transfer to 37 million nationwide?

Note that figure -- there are 37 million blacks in the United States. If the government gave each $10,000, that would be $370 billion, and while it would no doubt be Christmas for some -- particularly those in the burgeoning middle class -- the broken communities around America would not be repaired, and it would be a ready excuse for others in the country who are all too happy to dust their hands and ignore the issues facing black America.

Which, to circle back to the Supreme Court, is the direction we are heading already. In case you haven't noticed, the Hispanic population has surged past the black population, and -- just as it will be uncomfortable for Jews as the Muslim community grows and makes its wishes increasingly known -- black America, to the degree that it is a cohesive group, will more and more find itself in the galling position of watching the needs of newcomers being argued over and addressed while their timeworn grievances collect dust. Don't blame me for pointing it out.
The good in the bad
Tap almost any Jew on the shoulder, ask him what good came out of the Holocaust, and he will say that it led to the founding of the State of Israel.

Like all views of history, that, too, is an argument. It could reasonably be suggested otherwise: that the existence of Israel will ultimately not be positive, because it collects and concentrates the Jewish population to facilitate future Holocausts. I'd hope that is an overly bleak view, but I can't be sure.

Cherishing Israel doesn't mean that I don't wish I had more living relatives, or that Jews are glad the Holocaust occurred. But it is human nature to seek out the good in the bad -- for the parents of the slain toddler to start a foundation in her honor. And if they end up on the ''Today'' show, staying in a fancy hotel in New York City, chatting with Matt Lauer, it doesn't mean they are happy their child died, although unkind souls will claim just that.

So one can definitely point to -- for instance -- slavery and say it also resulted in some good, the most obvious being the inclusion of blacks into the American story, contributing to, enhancing and enriching the nation in countless ways, from peanut butter and jazz to Justice Thurgood Marshall and Barack Obama, the next president of the United States.

If this offends certain people, who would prefer to live in a house of mirrors, their own views reflected endlessly back to them, while treating any outside observation as "disrespect," then I am genuinely sorry -- sorry for them, in the sense of pity, not penance.

I would not want to live in that world.

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115 Comments

Instead of looking for more handouts, blacks should open their eyes to the disastrous effects that the coming Third World America will have on them, as whites are displaced largely by people who come from racial families with average IQs under 90.

That's the real world, and the danger of embracing the cult beliefs of egalitarianism, the idea that the races have the same potential.

If America had stayed 90% white, it would have maintained the potential for being a First World nation, which means wealth to fund our Rolls Royce quality social safety nets, something a future America will severely lack funds for.

And the term, "white supremacy," is simply racially motivated aggression -- based upon the cult notion that the races are the same -- directed towards whites, attempting to project blame on another race for problems inherent in the Negro race, and in some of the Mulatto races.

Whether they've worked can be debated, but we've had programs because of racial inequities in this country for some time...job quotas, minority hiring, college admission requirements for minorities, etc. Somehow I don't think putting thousands of dollars into the hands of black people is a long-term solution - especially those who are unemployed or have little education. Also, I came from descendants from Ireland and Italy - I had nothing to do with slavery so why should my tax dollars pay for reparations which ultimately will do little for blacks?

MITCHELL COMMENT:

The programs you cite were put in place to address the blatant discrimination of the Jim Crow era--not the institution of slavery.

I usually like your writing much better than Neil's but in this instance he makes more since.

I also challenge your statement tha reparations is "opposed by alot of whites and some blacks" this is a false statement. Most blacks oppose reparations as well.
It is an issue that is only kept alive by a radical minority and a media that loves radicals.

MITCHELL COMMENT;

Define radical community? I don't consider myself a radical. As for "most blacks" I'm not sure I agree with that statement.

Mitchell vs. Steinberg, reparations vs. no reparations. Something tells me this is going to get heated. Although I could be wrong and maybe it won't get heated? Anyway, let the games begin!

If "reparations" means that everyone gets a check, then count me out. However, if it means that the government will, as an example, create a domestic "Marshall Plan" that, at whatever cost, will shore up the education gap in this country, then count me in. As it stands, illiteracy and poverty just beget more of the same. It is time to end the cycle. And, the only continuum, pre-slavery to the present, that we can point to without co-mingling those responsible with those who are not, is the U.S. government. The government should should pick up the tab.

Slavery and its aftermath is this nation's unfinished business. Sooner or later, we're going to have to deal with it...
I don't think so...the next President of this country (if he decides to run), could very well be an African American. Some of the most successful people in this country are black. We have to move on...I'm successful because I persevered, as have many of my friends. Reparations are for the week minded. Here's some advice...don't have kids till you are in a committed relationship. Keep your kids in school. Work hard....funny how these things have a tendency to work.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Obviously, there are successful black people. Oprah comes to mind. But this isn't about Oprah's success. Reparations is about addressing the immoral and inhumane institutution. And as I said, none of us has a crystal ball.

Ms. Mitchell I agree with you 100% on the issue of reparations. I applaud you for not being afraid to speak out on such a controversial racial issue. I read both you and Mr. Steinberg regularly and it is my observation that you are getting better as a reporter, but Mr. Steinberg seems to be losing his ability to be objective. His recent column on reparations and a column he wrote questioning why Senator Obama visited his african relatives instead of his white relatives seemed like a tirade from a angry drunk man. They were
ridiculous personal attacks.

When you write that blacks are better off in America and should be grateful to the institution of slavery you give credibility to the white supremcist attitude that the American way is the only way; which is a reason hatred for America is growing around the globe.

He wondered why Senator Obama accepted and excelled in his black skin even though he had a white mother (America established long ago that something like a 10th of black blood made you black). Don't get upset because the senator didn't let that break him. I wonder is Mr. Steinberg drinking again? His editors should check before he writes something so offensive that a large of chunk of their readers decide that they are not going to pay to be insulted.

Ms. Mitchell you are doing an excellent job of reporting and addressing relevant issues. Keep up the good work. I know it's hard in the trenches and my prayers and support are with you

Sez Mary, "sooner or later, we're going to have to deal with it". My God, you cannot be for real. Never in the history of the world has so much been done by so many for so few in order to right past wrongs...NEVER. When does it end? Do reparations end it once and for all, or only until the next black extortion scheme comes along. When, in your mind, is it finally dealt with Ms. Mitchell? Does reparations "square" things with you? Is this what you want? Because I'll tell ya.....many whites, myself included, would gladly pay reparations if it would finally "end it". End the crying, the whining, the excuses for failure, the demands for more, more, more, etc, etc, etc. But we all know it wouldn't..now would it Ms. Mitchell? Nothing is ever enough and the bad news is that nothing will ever be enough. Finally "dealing" with it would put you and dozens of professional race baiters out of business. That's the last thing you want.

MITCHELL COMMENT;

Please list all those things that have been done to atone for slavery.

Wow, I am amazed by the amount of citizens who feel that we(blacks) should "be over" slavery, when racism is still a hinderance today! As Rep. Carol McKinney put it into statistics so perferctly; The gap that was made so long ago is being repaired sooo slowly today...Old whites in Congress are the ones who hated Negros, but loved for them to work back then, of course equality isn't on the top of their agenda. Reparations are sensible because we suffered from being worked and treated like animals to line a white man's pockets. Meanwhile, he was able to pass his fortunes down generation through generation...The fortune made off of slaves' sweat. When business flourished back then, white guy got paid good, black guy got a new sweater(maybe!).

Two things I agree with Steinberg on.

One, Barack for President!

Two, all of my people wouldn't do right with their money. So used to living in poverty, low education levels, or just ignorant...yeah we have those. But how about giving reparations that can only be invested, or used purposefully, like 401k? Hmmmmmmmm...

I submitted a comment on reparations on another article, but I will resubmit a similar one here.

Supposing somebody actually won a reparations case. Who should be the guilty party and who should pay? I'm not aware of any private corporations that took part in slavery that are still private today.

For instance, the Morgan companies were all "one" company before the early 1900's. It was a privately owned bank. However, legislation and globalization brought the company public. It is now a publicly traded corporation, owned by millions of investors.

The Morgan banks took part in slavery. They have publicly admitted to it and have since apologized and set up charity funds to help blacks. But, if reparation advocates had their way, the Morgan companies would be FORCED to hand out more. How is this fair to the shareholders, many of whom have no relatives who took part in slavery?

Suppose the guilty party is the government. How would it pay? Would it raise taxes (which would probably be necessary)? If it did raise taxes, who would be exempt? Would it be just blacks, or other minorities? What about whites who were on the other side of slavery? What about those with one parent whose anscestors had slaves and another parent whose anscestors didn't? Would they only pay partial taxes? How would it be fair to tax anybody because of the sins of their anscestors? What about immigrants or the children of immigrants?

How would you determine who benefits from a reparations judgment? I think most semi-intelligent people know that, despite what Jesse Jackson might think, not all blacks come from Africa. Would those who want the money have to prove that their anscestors were slaves? What if only one was? Woul that person only get partial credit? How would the majority prove that their anscestors were slaves since many blacks were uneducated and didn't write down their lineage? How would you prevent fraud?

Would this solve anything? Though Anonymous was a bit more antagonistic, how will this solve anything? What amount per person would solve the problems in the black community? $10,000? $100,000? $1? The fact is, no amount of money will help a community with so many problems as the black community. Education is the key. As more and more black males are incarcerated and less and less pursue higher education, the problems will only increase. Handing uneducated people a chunk of money will do nothing except to give them more to spend.

Will this lead to an open door policy for every group who were oppressed? I can think of a group who was much more oppressed. The native Americans. Any arguments that the worthless land that we gave them should make up for biological warfare, dishonesty, and genocide is rediculous. Should they sue for billions/trillions as well? When will it stop?
Will reparations be the final judgement? Would it be the end of all arguments based on slavery? What happens when it doesn't fix the black community's problems? As I said before, handing people a chunk of money does no good. Just ask many of the lottery winners who file for bankruptcy. What will it solve? Or is this just another case of creating equality by discriminating against other groups (the most recent ongoing case being the mismanaged feminist movement). If that's the case, don't you think that our country is screwed up enough? Do you really need to add more to the mix?

Finally, I think that this quote by Alexander Tyler fits this subject perfectly:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.

Reparations will not happen, and I can explain why in two words: Hurricane Katrina. If the government cannot start to adequately help a relatively small and localized group of African Americans who through no fault of their own had their homes destroyed by a devastating blow of nature, not in the 19th century, but just last year, then who -- excuse me -- but a fool would go around advocating that it commence some grand wealth transfer to 37 million nationwide?

Mary - this is so true...especially about New Orleans...if we can't help our own...in our own country, why is our government so concerned about helping outside countries first. This is not a third world...yet, New Orleans still reflects that. It shames me to think our stupid President puts his nose in other countries and neglects the very people who pay taxes for him helping other countries before his own.

The reparation issue is quite tricky because of the way it is presented in the media. The way it is crafted almost makes any hard working (and not so hard working) Anglo-American a strong opponent. It is presented in such a fashion that should America pay baggy pant wearing young men, teenage single parent mothers, HIV infected, welfare dependent, high school dropouts, and high incarceration rate people any money for their personal failures and unwillingness to take personal responsibility, when in fact the generations that did the hard work of slavery have passed on at least a hundred years ago. That is a very compelling argument when you look at the state of many African Americans today.

I would argue that reparations are due for those very reasons. African Americans didn’t help to build, but did the majority of the building that led to America having on the world’s leading economies in the 18th and 19th centuries. The economy was based on agriculture, because at that time America was not an industrial nation. The concept of industrialization was taking on its early formation. However, wealth was created and investment from abroad made in-roads into this thriving agricultural-based economy. Therefore, more than whites who lived in America benefited from slavery. Foreign investments can and does stimulate economies. I am making this point for those who argued that their families were still living in (you can fill-in the blank of the particular country) and therefore they had nothing to do with slavery. Typically, their ancestors left those countries because there we not much of an economy, or that it was a closed-system. The momentum of the U.S. economy in the 18th and 19th century made the progression of what became a burgeoning industrial and agricultural economy in the 20th century. Without the economic gains made in the 18th and 19 century, we may have missed the mark in the 20th century.

As an agriculturally-based economy, wealth was accumulated by those who were the poor and underprivileged from Western Europe after one or at the most two generations. The laws at that time, like those today, allowed wealth to be passed along to each new generation. This is a good practice and is one that I wholly endorse. But, if you were a slave at that time how could you pass along the fruits of your labor. If you couldn’t own anything and you were somebody’s property, then the ability to pass along wealth didn’t exist for you and your posterity. Then, it is clear that your descendents would get your legacy which was poor (poverty), ignorance, broken/dysfunctional families, and low self esteem to name a few of the conditions that were in existence then and passed along. I am not suggesting that we African Americans do not have a role, but we can only give what we know. For example today, many black people still discipline their children in the ways of the old slave master. We beat them, rather than teach them---we harden them to survive and that is what they became---survivors. We should be giving them the gift of how to flourish, but we are short on that because for generations we only knew how to survive!

In the 1920-50s when blacks began the northern migration and integration, then and only then, did we begin to understand just how much we didn’t know because of the effects of our isolation and voluntary acceptance of racial segregation, only then did we begin to realize just how robbed we were. Therefore, the argument that damage was done only to the old generations becomes invalid---because in actuality our eyes were really opened when we began to participate in getting our rights in the 1960s. Those who are opponents of reparation now have an era that they can recognize. Now we have to figure out how we can do this in an equitable manner. Millions of people have been robbed because they did not get the fruits from the labor of their ancestors and hence only have the remnants of what was passed along and those were the not so flattering things. The media has a field-day perpetuating the dysfunctional aspects of what has been generationally passed-along. Money can’t cure some things, but in the right combination it can help to start and finance the process.

Mary,you tell me if reparations finally squares things up and I'll be glad to tell you the things that I think have been done to right past wrongs. Deal??

"atone for slavery" Citizenship, the right to vote, welfare, foodstamps,free medical, Lowered test rquirements, taking minority's over other qualified applicants, making colleges take underqualified students,Free housing,Free daycare(head start)free kindergarden(heatstart) and EEOC PROGRAMS. Need I list more?? I think the taxpayer has paid ENOUGH!!

There are corporate entities that exist today because of the economic impact of slavery. Wealth was built from slavery and it still exist today in private and public coffers. "Slavery" did not stop existing after the Civil War. During the times following radical Reconstruction and up into the first half of the 20th century large labor pools were created, for big plantation work/railroad work/turpentine extraction/ lumber work etc etc, from Black men (and sometimes women) who were pulled from the streets and accused of loitering. They were then given the option of jail or working their time off for someone who paid their 5-20 dollar bails. Many of these "peons" (this was a system of peonage) died working in these ways. A very good book I read some time ago addresses just that "Lay this Body Down: The 1920 Killing of 11 Plantation Slaves." These stories are not uncommon, there was an entire Bureau of Investigation (the agency that proceeded the FBI) department dedicated to investigating peonage, at least that's what they were supposed to do.
There are cases where imminent domain is known to have targeted Black business districts disproportionately.
There have been government sanctioned destructions of Black communities especially in the years following the end of Reconstruction and the years following the first World War.
Individual cases like these, where some one or several someones or some institution or communities are unjustly enriched by the brutal practices of racism and where ones rightful ability to progress is steadily stunted by GOVERNMENT sanction (whether official or by a widespread closing of the eyes) and lack of enforcement, lack of due process, lack of equal protection REQUIRES an investigation an official airing out of the FACTS of history.
Do Black people all get a check...no, I've never heard any of the legal and academic scholars pursuing reparations say that Black people should all get a fat check.
I am personally in favor of official acknowledgement and some of the benefits of citizenship that whites have historically received, such as (AND first of all) all things that the Constitution supposedly guarantees. And maybe Black people can actually benefit from the homestead act this time. I grow so sick of hearing how some white guy's ancestors came from Ireland and pulled himself up from his bootstraps and so on and so on. And what? Jimmy Carter's ancestor came to Georgia as an indentured servant and his family became eventually one of the largest slaveowning families in the state.
Dont get it twisted though Black people have "made-it" against the odds and have created institutions and communities and individuals and traditions that negate the whole idea of Black dependance. In fact America's position in the world today is due in GREAT part to the work and struggle of Black people.
Reparations is about, to me, an acknowledgement of the psychopathic nature and greed driven nature of America's racial past and some real solutions.

Your right the civil war was fought for strength of the union vs. states rights. However the major motivating factor to most soldiers was slavery. It was the issue that sold the war to the public.
There are quotes from the conferderate side stating they should have just "Let the Slaves Go" before the war and their cause would been easier to win. (I admit the actual language was a racial slur not the word SLAVE).

I think the amazing thing to me about our history is really the time of reconstruction. the period after slavery was outlawed.

People who were slaves were now free. This was a very difficult and violent time.
The fourteenth amendment was pasted to keep states from denying blacks their rights as citizens. That didn't mean they actually obtained those rights. They obviously did not, especially in the south.
In many ways it is actually amazing that blacks have done as well as they have.
One of the most powerful people in the world is a black woman (Condi Rice).

The total wealth of blacks in the united States would beat the entire wealth of most countries.

Most people wouldn't mind getting a check from anyone. However, The idea of Reparations is an embaressment. You have every opportunity in this country to be whatever you want to be. This is proven over and over again. Put your energies towards something which would actually make black people better. Not some score settling vendetta.

Also I still think most blacks do not want or at least are not pushing for reparations. I admit I have no actual figures or statistics. If you can find an actual certifiable number I would accept my error.

When I read your responses, Mary, in totality...what I think while I'm reading them is that your parenting skills probably left a lot to be desired. The BEST thing a parent can do for a child is to teach that child that each day is a new day, and that we all have control of our own individual destinies. You have not learned this important fact. Your intentions are good...but you are misguided. And the reparations movement is misguided...not because reparations in and of themselves are wrong...but that the process of seeking reparations...and the thinking that goes into that process...are devastating to those who pursue it. Mary, your feelings on this issue lead you to be as misinformed on this issue as you are on 'acting the fool' at high school and college graduations...I honestly do not believe that you 'get it'. That you don't get it doesn't mean that you are a bad person...just that I don't think you understand. As for Steinberg...it is not at all difficult to come to the conclusion that he has an air of superiority about himself (i.e. arrogance)...and that I would probably prefer to share a beverage with M. Mitchell, as opposed to N. Steinberg. But that says nothing about the merits of this argument.

I propose using the term "Euro-American" for all references to whites. If all other ethnicities must use "Afro-American," "Asian American," etc., then why do white folks get to use simply, purely "American." The worst thing to come from slavery is the fallacy that the ubiqitous concept of race really exists. It doesn't. There is no white. There is no black. I hope these terms go the way of "colored" and "negro."

"Legal battles over blacks' rights are nothing new."


Since when is Reparations a right?

I would be for reparations in the following manner: Distributed as a credit/refund on income tax. Only those below the poverty line would receive it as cash refund. Others above poverty line would have to designate their refund to local schools, church, or non profit chairity. No political affiliation. example : United Negro College Fund eligible. Operation Push not eligible if political contributions or affiliations shown.
For the record I am M/W.

Your bid for reparations is a last gasp for the American black and their entitlement mentality. White Guilt has paid better dividends and would be exploited until the end of time if thousands of illegal aliens, with no White Guilt weren't invading the country. Why not just face the fact that you can see the caboose on the gravy train. End of the goodies has arrived. These next few years should be very interesting. May the best race win.

I read over the comments so far on this issue, and I am saddened. Why? Because we have not come very far as it relates to race in this country; not by a long shot. Sometimes, you can forget and think things may be getting better, but you can feel the tone of "hatred" in some of these comments, and it's scary.

Anyway, I know that each time you state your opinion in this "public" manner, you have to be ready to take what comes back. I applaud you for the gracious way in which you address these tough issues. Issues that reach deep into ourselves and make us face or reveal what our "real" feelings are on the subjects.

Just wanted to say that I appreciate the way you express yourself in your writing and your opinions. It's not easy being a watchman on the wall.

HELLO MARY.RACISM AND RACE RELATION WILL ULTIMATELY BE THE 800 POUND GORILLA THAT WILL SNACK ON ALL OF US IF WE DO NOT FIND A WAY TO ADDRESS IT IN A CIVIL FASHION.OUR SINS SOONER OR LATER WILL REVISIT US.WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT.I FIND IT INTERESTING THAT THE EARLY IMMIGRANTS FROM EUROPE WAS HARDLY THE PILLARS OF EUROPEAN SOCIETY.THEY WERE FLEEING SOME FORM OF PERSECUTION.SO WHAT WAS THE FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS,PERSECUTING THE NATIVE AMERICAN.I CAN CONTINUE WITH THE NUMEROUS ATROCITIES THAT BEEN INFLICTED UPON PEOPLE WITH A DARKER HUE.WE CAN NOT OUT RUN OUR SINS.

I will not argue whether reparations are in order, because I think that is a legal question, one that is going to be very hard answer.

Will we blame the Dutch traders, who bought the slaves from the african tribes who captured them?
Do we blame the americans who bought the slaves to sell to the plantation owners?
Do we blame the plantation owners who bought them?
Do we blame the US gvernment for not changing laws sooner?
Some will say that while we all feel it was wrong, no law was broken at that time.(compared to the situation of the Japanese who were unlawfully imprisoned during the war).
The US government eventually abolished salvery, although too many years too late...and even then, injustice still persists to this day.

I don't think reparations will ever happen. I think the battle for it is a waste of effort. It would be better served going after those who persist in denying
minorities the legal rights that we have all been given.


MAry Shame on you. You have blocked many emails and one that at least should have been edited is by Linda accusing Neil Steinberg of drinking while writing his response or of clouding his thinking. A cheap shot that you as blogger should have at the very least responded to.

First of all, I wish people would stop attacking Mr. Steinberg personally just because you disagree with him. Try to be tolerant of others and try not to be so bigoted towards others. As for this topic? Thank God it is being discussed because there are a lot of white people and other non blacks who need to be awakened out of there coma and realize how there way of life is being attacked by race hustlers who support this reparations business. To Jill Henrie, bravo!

Reparations or the hope of reparations will do nothing for the injustice of slavery and will keep blacks from moving forward. Especially when we hear talk of 40 acres and a mule hell i want 40 acres and a Lexus attributed to Alderman Carrie Austin.
The only thing that America owes is a recognition that our forefathers were idiots for considering slavery a legal business and now an opportunity to succeed. Some things that america provides that can help all disadvantaged citizens are Free public education, feeding of the poor and shelter for the homeless. The rest is upto the individual and many many many blacks hispanics koreans arabs etc have come from poverty surmounted language barriers racism and achieved wealth by hard work and making hard choices.

When you look at it as a concept the whole idea of reparations falls apart considering slavery has been prevalent through out time. First and foremost who gets it? All blacks? What proof do you need and what percent do you get? Do Black decendants of mixed races get less?
Where does it end? Why should blacks be the only ones who get reparations for slavery? Do the British owe the Irish and Scottish money for slavery.? Hey heres a twist Egypt owes the jews they were in slavery.
Hey Africa owes African Americans money for slavery they were complict in the crime.

A slippery slope that the powers that be will not get caught up in.

Mary asks Please list all the things that have been done to atone for slavery. Alderman Tillman says " a cash settlement "might be impossible." But reparations advocates nationally are discussing such options as low-interest loans "to help rebuild the black community," special health initiatives targeted at African-Americans, and educational help, including scholarships, for black youngsters, she said.

Mary and Alderman Tillman which one of these suggestions have not been done for African Americans?

I can list all of them if you want hey my buddy just paid $180,000 for a condo next to Cabrini. Guess who his neighbors in the adjoining units are? African americans living in the same unit as him. Cost 0.00 dollars. He's lucky the people living there now are civilized the previous occupant threatened his life for asking her kids to pick up their wrappers and not drag mud in through the common ares. fortunately she was kicked out. Point being opportunity is provided to African Americans some take advantage and help their families and others just take ADVANTAGE.

Mitchell - "Reparations is about addressing the immoral and inhumane institutution.
The programs you cite were put in place to address the blatant discrimination of the Jim Crow era--not the institution of slavery."

So if I understand you logic, we have had programs in place to address discrimination (some work, some don't, some have been abused), and now we need to provide cash to address the impact of slavery...some 140+ years later?

I submitted a comment on reparations on another article, but I will resubmit a similar one here.

Supposing somebody actually won a reparations case. Who should be the guilty party and who should pay? I'm not aware of any private corporations that took part in slavery that are still private today.

For instance, the Morgan companies were all "one" company before the early 1900's. It was a privately owned bank. However, legislation and globalization brought the company public. It is now a publicly traded corporation, owned by millions of investors.

The Morgan banks took part in slavery. They have publicly admitted to it and have since apologized and set up charity funds to help blacks. But, if reparation advocates had their way, the Morgan companies would be FORCED to hand out more. How is this fair to the shareholders, many of whom have no relatives who took part in slavery?

Suppose the guilty party is the government. How would it pay? Would it raise taxes (which would probably be necessary)? If it did raise taxes, who would be exempt? Would it be just blacks, or other minorities? What about whites who were on the other side of slavery? What about those with one parent whose anscestors had slaves and another parent whose anscestors didn't? Would they only pay partial taxes? How would it be fair to tax anybody because of the sins of their anscestors? What about immigrants or the children of immigrants?

How would you determine who benefits from a reparations judgment? I think most semi-intelligent people know that, despite what Jesse Jackson might think, not all blacks come from Africa. Would those who want the money have to prove that their anscestors were slaves? What if only one was? Woul that person only get partial credit? How would the majority prove that their anscestors were slaves since many blacks were uneducated and didn't write down their lineage? How would you prevent fraud?

Would this solve anything? Though Anonymous was a bit more antagonistic, how will this solve anything? What amount per person would solve the problems in the black community? $10,000? $100,000? $1? The fact is, no amount of money will help a community with so many problems as the black community. Education is the key. As more and more black males are incarcerated and less and less pursue higher education, the problems will only increase. Handing uneducated people a chunk of money will do nothing except to give them more to spend.

Will this lead to an open door policy for every group who were oppressed? I can think of a group who was much more oppressed. The native Americans. Any arguments that the worthless land that we gave them should make up for biological warfare, dishonesty, and genocide is rediculous. Should they sue for billions/trillions as well? When will it stop?
Will reparations be the final judgement? Would it be the end of all arguments based on slavery? What happens when it doesn't fix the black community's problems? As I said before, handing people a chunk of money does no good. Just ask many of the lottery winners who file for bankruptcy. What will it solve? Or is this just another case of creating equality by discriminating against other groups (the most recent ongoing case being the mismanaged feminist movement). If that's the case, don't you think that our country is screwed up enough? Do you really need to add more to the mix?

Finally, I think that this quote by Alexander Tyler fits this subject perfectly:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.

I would gladly open my wallet for reparations as soon as reparations are also sought from the Africans who had ancestors that sold thier own to White slave traders. If we are going to keep bringing up history at least bring it all up.

I believe whole heartedly that the Civil Rights movement enable us to take illegal actions taken against us to court and ask the court to make us whole.

However, when addressing the issue of reparation, I don't believe that a Court in the U.S will agree that money should be given to descendents of slaves.

However, I am not the judge nor am I against the reparations suit currently on appeal in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and I hope that if the Court rules against the Plaintiff's that they'll take their claims to the U.S Supreme Court. The next question is will the Supreme Court except the case on a "Petition for A Writ of Certiorari".

When Appellants file a "Petition for a Writ of Certiorari", the Supreme Court has the option of accepting the case or denying the petition.

However, I say fight the fight and let GOD decide what shall and shall not be.

The only way to find out is "take it to a court of competent jurisdiction".

Mary,

I make a point to read your column whenever I can and I'm glad you have a forum to express views that many black people share, but have no forum to express them. There are far too many Neil Steinbergs, Rush Limbaughs and Bill O'Reilly's around who are afforded a platform to express their views upon millions of weak minded, uninformed individuals who are not well read enough to recognize a bunch of b.s. when they hear it.

I don't believe American Blacks will ever receive reparations from the U.S. government, but that doesn't mean we don't deserve some form of remuneration for the contribution our forefathers made to enable the United States to become the richest and most prosperous nation on earth. Unfortunately, due to racist policies and practices from the public and private sector alike, Blacks have NEVER been afforded a fair opportunity to fully participate in this prosperity. Right now America is experiencing the largest intergenerational transference of wealth in the nation’s history, and because of the redlining by banks and discriminatory hiring and housing practices that my parents and their parents, etc. had to endure; my generation will be largely left out of this intergenerational accumulation of wealth that many White Americans enjoy. Now a bigot could argue that my parents’ generation should have managed their money better, but when you’re a Black man with a college degree in 1950 and you’re systematically relegated to low paying, dead end jobs to the benefit of White citizens and immigrants alike, there’s no way anyone could argue that discrimination of the past has no effect on the fortunes of Black people today; I simply don’t buy it. White people whether they’re Jewish, Polish, Italian or whatever, have always been able to enter the mainstream much more easily than have Black people. If you’re Jewish and your name is Eugene Orowitz, to make life a bit easier on yourself and on your family, you simply change your name to Michael Landon and suddenly you’re afforded all of the rights and privileges that accrue to every other White man in American society, whether you’ve earned them or not. If you’re a White Hispanic named Ramon Estevez and to get a leg up you change your name to Martin Sheen, suddenly life in America just got a whole lot better. This end-around technique that other disenfranchised groups have employed with regularity has NEVER been available to Black people, as skin color trumps everything in America; always has, always will.

Now I’m not for cutting every Black person a check to redress past wrongs, but if some smart economist (and there are a lot of them out there) could come up with a feasible way to offer every working descendant of slaves a tax credit, college tuition grant or some other form of compensation that could help hard working, productive Black members of society better their lot in life, I’m all for it. America owes us that much!

Even if they cut a check they'll just get it back some other way.Why argue over a pipe dream.It's like trying to figure out who's going to heavan and who's going to hell.Jean put it plainly and best that the US goverment wouldn't even help minorities who were displaced.Why correct sins.I can see taking the wealth away from those that profited from slavery.We would just have to give this land back to the 200 Native American who are left from the millions who were killed off.Are there any white people out there who side with black people on any issue.

In my opinion, reparations wouldn't begin to solve the problems of the black community.

While I agree that blacks have had a much harder time moving up and getting good jobs, that is no longer the case, although for many it is too late. Opportunities are out there, but due to poverty, gangs, lack of education, lack of parental supervision, drugs, depression, ect. it is harder for the young people today to know where to begin.

There are children in the neighborhood as young as 5 years old running around unsupervised. There are teenagers loitering in front of Cabrini all day long, as well as in front of every liquor store that you pass.

How does a child with no supervision/parental involvement get ahead? Who is encouraging these kids? And yet these kids grow up to be parents of the next welfare generation.

Any monies from reparations would be better used to establish parenting classes. Teach the young parents how to be good parents, and help their kids with homework. Teach them to insist on knowing where their children are, whom they are hanging out with.

Every child has the right to a caring parent that oversees their homework on a nightly basis, and once that is established, the schools will get better, and the children will go on to become successful people.

The most important thing in the world is the children, and children need loving parents who are not in gangs, or on drugs, and are interested in their everyday whereabouts. Even the smartest child would have a hard time getting ahead if they had no support.

The kids are the future of the black community, and teaching the parents to "parent" would be the best reparations of all.

Once again the silly subject of reparations for slavery is being trotted out, and once again the arguments are being distorted.

First of all, there is never any mention of any contributions from the governments of those west African countries from whence the majority of slaves was shipped. Until that happens, the call for Reparations for Slavery is just another way for black Americans to stick their undeserving hands in a pot of someone else’s money.

Whites may have provided the transport, but the black African chiefs were willing sellers of their brothers and so following the logic of those calling for reparations, the current governments of that area, successors to the former chiefs, must surely bear some responsibility as well.

Secondly, who is to benefit from the suggested compensation? How will it be possible to distinguish between descendants of black slaves and those who arrived in the USA after abolition?

In any case, on what grounds will black Americans be seeking reparations? Surely each applicant would have to show that he or she personally had suffered as a result of his nth generation ancestor being shipped across the ocean. A tad difficult I would think.

Members of our family died in both world wars, one on the Somme in 1916, another at the hands of the Japanese on the infamous Burma railway in 1944. Both deaths must have been devastating for the family at the time, but according to the Reparations logic, even though I personally have suffered no disadvantage as a result, presumably I could ask the German and Japanese governments to drop me a cheque to “compensate? me. Since both these events are much closer in time than even the most recent delivery of slaves, I fail to see how anyone could establish a case for compensation. To be compensated, surely there must be a loss somewhere to be made good.

If there is to be no need to make a case for compensation, is this to become a free handout to ALL black Americans, irrespective?

The comparison with the Holocaust merely betrays the poverty of the arguments in favour of Reparations and is an unworthy jibe. The Jews gained no benefit from the Death Camps, either at the time or since. Transportation to America must have been a horrifying experience and not one which I would willingly have wished to share, but it is an incontestable fact that even the most impoverished black Americans today enjoy a standard of living far exceeding all but a tiny privileged minority still living in their ancestral homelands. Therefore, transportation to America DID work to the advantage of the descendants of the slaves and no amount of politically correct posturing can alter that fact.


For those who think that the answer is to "Just work Hard", they must not realize that there have been many government programs to help white americans. Programs such as VA home loans, FHA home loans, land grants, SBA loans, etc. Most of these programs were established long before Afro-Americans, or any other minority group could apply.

Every time I see these articles or television shows it bothers me. I do believe that African Americans deserve more than they are currently receiving. I also know that when I went to college if I had been a minority college would have been less expensive. Being of European ancestry I didn't qualify for financial aid. This is the basis for my argument. Race is the problem and as long as we recognize differences we will always be burdened by it. All people in the United States and every other country in the world deserve better than we are providing for them now.
Anyone who has spent much time around the poor regardless of race should understand that just handing someone a check won't really help them. Yes, they could pay some bills and buy some luxuries. How many poor, regardless of their ethnic background, would put some or all that money away for the future. The truth is not enough. This isn't totally their fault. Those raised in poverty have trouble looking to the future. It's got to be hard when your hungry now.
With this I see a much better solution. Spend the money on state of the art schools with a sufficient staff to give these children the opportunity to raise them selves from poverty. Also the poor needs better medical care. Give them the care they can't afford. I fully understand that this wont help everyone, but it's a good start.
We are a t turning point in out history. The current people in power feel that the way to eliminate poverty is to take away the free lunch and dangle the carrot in their face. This has never worked and never will. The poor deserve a chance. Welfare isn't a chance it's a pacifier. People need the tools to free themselves from poverty. Defining us by race is just a tool to keep people poor.
I just feel we are fighting for the wrong things. If you tell a child he can't succeed because of race, that child probably won't. Bad things happen to all people. Many of which are not their fault. The problem arrives when we provide them an excuse. Although many people can't see beyond skin color prejudice is not limited to people of European ancestry. I personally have been denied service at a restaurant just south of 87th street on Stony Island. My feeling was it was the restaurants loss. I went next door was served and that African American owned restaurant received my money. I don't hold it against any people, just the waitress who told me "We don't serve your kind here." The other people in the Restaurant look as bewildered as I did upon hearing this, but I took it in stride at went next door. Most importantly though I don't face this every day everywhere I go. This was one of two Isolated incidents in my life where this has occurred. This is part of my point.
It's real simple. All people need to forget about race, and focus on advancing all people. This is the only way, for separation only breads hate through misunderstanding.

I'M OF ENGLISH HERITAGE.I WOULD LIKE REPARATIONS FROM ROME FOR ENSLAVING MY ANCESTORS!! HOW MANY PEOPLES IN THE WORLD HAVE BEEN ENSLAVED AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER? I SUPPOSE MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD OWE SOMETHING TO SOMEONE!!!!

Mary stay the course, there's lot of purpose for this fight, I've found a sence of understanding in why Jewish community will never let it be said that what happen to them," did not happen", and they will never forget how America stood back and watched as Hitler did what he did. But they did not give up their pursuit to get their just due, they hunted the evil doers down, they found out who benefited from their suffering, they even made Swisserland open up the banks in order to get REPARATIONS, from those who tortured and murdered their families and destroyed their way of living their lives, and from those who stood by and let happen. So they made a oath- NEVER AGAIN!!!! So now they make sure that people they elect to Washington make sure that this country has in the budget every year Billions of dollars going to their homeland. I'm not knocking them, I showing people that all we have to do is, take the same route,use the same laws that they created to work for them,when they got their REPARATIONS, and stay in America, claim this as home, like they claimed their Homeland. And we can start by having our BMWs { Black Men we elected to Washington} ask the Department of Justice to have U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald investigate the cover-up of the 100+ African-American men that was torture by Jon Burge and other Chicago Police Officers and that support or sponsor a REPERATIONS FOR POLICE TORTURE VICTIMS ACT. Only then will they believe us when we say" NEVER AGAIN"

Wallace" Gator"Bradley
Urban Translator

WFG...LEARN SOMETHING.
"welfare, foodstamps,free medical, Lowered test rquirements, taking minority's over other qualified applicants, making colleges take underqualified students,Free housing,Free daycare(head start)free kindergarden(heatstart) and EEOC"

ALL OF THESE THINGS HAVE BENEFITTED WHITE AMERICANS BY MAJORITY...
But let's talk about how the GI Bill and other veterans' assistance was denied to Black veterans many of whom after the civil and world wars, and Korea (and Vietnam where even though Black people made up 12% of the population they made up more than 25% of the frontlines) were lynched for having the audacity to wear a uniform and act like a citizen,this happened within sight and knowledge of the government AND WITH IMPUNITY...how the homestead act and land settlement acts were wholesale denied to Black people but millions of acres and loans were given back to treasonous/anti-American/unpatriotic/ secessionist/slaveowners following the Civil war...how when during the Depression/New Deal era, when farms were beginning to receive BIG subsidies Black farmers were denied access...How Black farmers have very recently won a settlement against the USDA due to discriminatory loaning practices...how government regulated corporations like banks and insurance companies were allowd to skirt the law when it came to servicing Black communities...how unionization a very effective vehicle for the creation of the white upper-working/middle-class, was denied to Black people...how equal access to public education, A RIGHT that whites have enjoyed since public schools became prominent within the past less than 150 years has been denied to Black people and how historically Black Colleges and Universities, even though they make up just about 10% of colleges in America grant Bachelors degrees to more than 40% of all Black doctors and 27% of all Black Lawyers and more than 50% of Black engineers and almost 30% of Black PhD's, but have been historically overlooked to receive PUBLIC research funds...How access to equal healthcare (Dr. Daniel Hale Williams died because a white hospital rejected his bleeding body)is still not a reality in many Black communities...how, when during the post-industrial 70's and 80's Black communities did not get the same kinds of bail outs that white communities historically got when there was a downturn in the economy.

ANY social program in the US has always always always benefitted WHITE Americans by GREAT MAJORITY. Don't let your racist assumptions and what you're allowed to see in the popular media cloud reality. Whites have used government assistance to build wealth from day one...you actually think that white people are just that much more hard working? My grandfather went from sharecropping to the University of Chicago where he received his Doctorate in Systematic Theology. My grandmother took in clothing to wash as she put herself through Dunbar high school in Little Rock, AR and then again through Philander Smith College and eventually Michigan State University where she got her doctorate in Library Science. My other grandfather tends more than 800 acres of soybeans and corn and okra in Aubrey, AR with little help, and definitely nota as much help form the USDA as many of the surrounding white farmers. Anybody who dares to assume that Black people have been sitting around being victimized by history and are without agency is insulting to say the least and certainly ignorant of the facts.

"Now I’m not for cutting every Black person a check to redress past wrongs, but if some smart economist (and there are a lot of them out there) could come up with a feasible way to offer every working descendant of slaves a tax credit, college tuition grant or some other form of compensation that could help hard working, productive Black members of society better their lot in life, I’m all for it. America owes us that much!"

...and even getting beyond the owed issue, it would be a smart INVESTMENT in our own people.

we have spent $300 billion (that's $300,000,000,000) in Iraq, and for what? angering Arabs around the world? We sure havent' caught Bin Laden there, you know?

That would pay for countless new schools in black (and all impoverished) parts of the country, it would pay for computers in all of them, it would pay to clean up often contaminated land that black (and again, all impoverished) people found themselves redlined to, etc.

What is needed is a way to spin this less as a "handout" and more as an investment, why on earth would any American of any color be proud of a society where such a large number of people continue to suffer so much?

For the SCARILY IGNORANT Jerry, Jill Henrie, Mary L,WFG and of course Anonymous.

This is just an excerpt. Hopefully you can put your ignorance aside for 5 minutes and get through this!
Shinin' the Lite on White Privilege
by Sharon Martinas
© Sharon Martinas, 1998.

300 Years of Affirmative Action for White People
Some examples:

* 1663: In Virginia, English female indentured servants are no longer allowed to work in the fields; they can only work in their master's house. African women still work in the fields.
* 1680 - 1705: Virginia "servant" codes specify that white servants can testify in court, get "freedom dues," a plot of land, and the right to marry someone else who comes from Europe. (Racial intermarriage is banned.)
* 1790: The Naturalization Act, the first act of the first U.S. Congress, guarantees that white immigrants can become citizens, which leads the way for them to become owners of land. "Non-white" immigrants are denied the right to be citizens. (This provision was not changed until 1952.)
* 1830: The Indian Removal Act, initiated by President Andrew Jackson, removes the Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw and Seminole Indians from the most fertile land in the South. White slave owners take over the land, use enslaved Africans to grow the cotton that creates the wealth for both Southern and Northern ruling and middle class whites. Cotton becomes the major export of the new nation.
* 1848: In the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo, Mexico cedes half its national territory to the United States. Mexicans living north of the Rio Grande become U.S. citizens, but they no longer automatically own the land their families have tilled for centuries. Under U.S. law, the land goes to those with papers. Mexicans do not have papers. White lawyers "representing" Mexican land owners swindle millions of acres by taking land as their legal fees. Mexican-Americans become the first farm workers on lands their families once owned.
* 1862: During the height of the Civil War, U.S. soldiers are also waging war on indigenous nations in the West. Millions of acres of Native land are taken by blooodshed. This land is distributed to white people only. The Homestead Act makes 50 million acres available, at low cost, to white working class homesteaders. The Morrell Act creates land grant colleges to build a new white middle class. And 100 million acres of Indian land are given free to the railroads.
* 1880's - 1914: Millions of Southern and Eastern European immigrants come to the U.S. They can bring their families, marry, travel to find work and eventually get citizenship. But during the same period, Chinese immigrants, except for merchants, are excluded from immigrating. Chinese workers are not allowed to bring their wives, nor to marry non-Chinese Americans, so they cannot create families.
* 1887: The Dawes Land Allotment Act forbids communal land ownership by indigenous people, and encourages Indians to sell their lands to whites. As a result, millions of acres go to white squatters.
* 1947 on: Under the G.I. Bill, the federal government authorizes the largest affirmative action program for white people in the nation's history. Millions of returning veterans get preferential treatment in jobs, suburban home loans, and college education. But these federal programs do not challenge institutional racism in employment, housing or education, so almost all the benefits go to white men and their families.
* 1954ff: One of the most significant effects of Brown v. Board of Education is the firing of thousands of Black teachers and principals in southern Black schools, after these schools are integrated with white ones. School Boards say that white parents will not let their kids be taught by Black teachers. So the major beneficiaries of Brown v. Board of Education are the thousands of white (mostly female) teachers and white (mostly male) principals who got the jobs in these newly integrated schools.
* 1994: The passage of "Three Strikes You're Out" in California leads to imprisonment for thousands of Black and Brown men while providing a major source of well paid jobs for mostly white working class men -- as prison guards.
* 1996: The passage of Proposition 209 ends a brief interlude of 30 years of affirmative action for people of color. And California, which will be the first state in the nation to have a majority population of people of color, has led the way in returning to a 300 year tradition of affirmative action for white people.

You want reparations? Prove you are a descendant, of a slave, that was not descended from an African tribe selling blacks to the Dutch slave traders.
C'mon Mary Mitchell, prove it about yourself first.
White Americans did not bring you here. My family comes from Europe, they came after the Civil War. Why do I owe you reparations?
Perhaps I owe Native Americans reparations. Actually Americans of all colors do, because the houses we own and live in is on land that was once theirs and they were cheated out of it.

Reparations:
Black Americans NO
Native Americans YES

Since my white brothers & sisters have done such a magnificent job articulating their opposition to reparations, I am not going to waste my time just repeating what they have said. Now we have to figure out what we do next to stop this reparations attack on our economy and our country that OUR ancestors founded. Since we are not a violent people I will surely not suggest violence, so the next logical step is to fight it the way things should be fought in a civilized democracy. The way to do that is for us to get off of our butts and start electing candidates to public office who share our ideas and morals. It also means perhaps having to do more than just vote for a certain candidate, it might mean volunteering and campaigning for that candidate who is looking out for us. More often than not that candidate will be a Republican, but it has to be the right Republican. It has to be a true, conservative Republican. Not some half conservative who is liberal on half the issues. Because I am convinced the day is coming where we will be forced to nominate and elect politicians like the late George Wallace from the great state of Alabama, or the late Strom Thurmond from the great state of South Carolina, or Jesse Helms, from the great state of North Carolina. Our generation must act now, because if we don't, 20 or 30 years from now yours and my children and grandchildren will not even be able to get a job sweeping the streets regardless of how intelligent and hard working they are. We can start right here in Illinois by booting that fraud Obama out of office in fours years. Obama has never been challenged on the issues and has never been forced to articulate his views. You have to investigate long and hard to see where he stands on issues, but if you do that investigating, you will find that he is a far left radical liberal who is better suited to be the mayor of radical San Francisco than to represent us in Washington.

Ms. Mitchell, your commentary is definitely on point. However, the other comment of Black Americans going back to Africa is appalling because America was built on the backs of Black slaves who were forced to sacrifice their lives for Whites to live better while Blacks continued to live under inhumane conditions.

White Americans simply don't want to deal with reparations for slavery because it would be an admission that they were wrong and their ancestors were wrong. It would give credence to their ability to ignore their own wrongdoings and also free future generations of White Americans from having any memory or responsibility.

These same White Americans have been able to pass on economic success throughout their generations because they have cheated Blacks from recognition for their contributions and their piece of the American dream. They know discrimination still occurs and from what source discrimination against Black Americans has stemmed from... slavery. There is a constant refusal to recognize the blatant effects slavery has had on the socioeconomic status of Black Americans and their future generations. Certainly, there are a few who have been able to cross the line, but there are so many who have not because the ghost of discrimination has been engraved in Americans without resolve. The very fact that White Americans want to push the reparation issue under the table tells me that there is so much that White Americans and their ancestors refuse to take responsibility for.

I am also dismayed that the same people who feel reparations for slavery is too far in the past, also honor the 4th of July and Christmas (Jesus's birthday) even though these events also occurred way in the past. Simply put, denying reparations for slavery is wrong because this effectively enforces selective memory by saying...White Americans didn't want to deal with it then and we don't want to deal with it now; let's just hope it goes away so we can still prosper at their expense.

Neil Steinberg: How dare you try to equalize enslavement with 'peanut butter' and 'jazz'! Thurgood Marshall and Barack Obama are the 'good' things that enslavement issued? I am the daughter of the son of the son of the enslaved. The liability and legacy of enslavement surrounds my community on every level just as the asset and legacy of being the son of the son of enslavers' surrounds yours. Your condescending arrogance is but an extension of the same mindset of 400 years ago and your paternalism shows forth quite well.

Reparations should only be for those who are descendents of slaves, and ought to be paid for primarily by the descendents of slaveowners. Perhaps it could be in the form of a tax. Most American whites did not own slaves. A significant portion of Americans immigrated to the US after slavery was made illegal. Devout white Christians who believed that slavery was a crime against humanity worked tirelessly for the abolishment of it. Therefore, where is the justice in requiring that all Americans make reparations to the descendents of slaves? Furthermore, go back far enough and you will find that most of us have ancestors who suffered some form of economic, social, or political oppression.

Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

I grant that a son will benefit from wealth gained unjustly by a father. But at some point, the principle above of not holding a son accountable for the sins of his father has to come into play.

Pr 17:2 A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.

A man with a silver spoon in his mouth can become a miserable failure if he does not apply himself. A poor man can rise to wealth by industriousness and hard work. Granted, it is more difficult for the poor man, but it can be done.

Pr 22:29 Do you see a man skilful in his work? he will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

Reparations, I believe that these companies that had roots with slavery should be held accountable ,once the ideological wheel that keep slavery alive is punished, The Democratic party. They had 100X more to do with keeping slavery alive than JP Morgan could ever have. What do ya think?

MITCHELL COMMENT:

What is the basis for your argument that the Democratic Party is responsible for slavery?

Everybody here wants to cry "oh poor me" including blacks and whites. You have to understand slavery was a horrible thing and sickening to begin to comprehend. And racism exists thriving all around including blacks and whites. Blacks are just as, if not more, racist than white people. White people have to watch their mouths and hide their prejudices where blacks can openly and freely use racism without such harsh reprimands. When people scream racism, its usually to cover their own prejudices.
As for reperations, give me a break. Yeah I know blacks have had horrible times. Its not fair the way the have been mistreated and unfortunately the racial gaps will continue. But slavery was abolished before anyone on this earth was alive, even before most of parents and grandparents. What possible reason would a person have to receive money off a ancestors tragedy years beforehand. That is using the courts to feed your own pocket. Im not suing the landowner who kicked my grandfather out of Ireland. Im not suing Italy for jailing my family during WWII for "yankee crimes".
If your serious about reparations, and not just looking for a handout, make sure you go after the responsible parties and not the majority of Americans who family didn't immigrate until after slavery was abolished. And if for some God awful reason, reparations are granted, use them in the public sector and build communities and educate. Private hands would squander the money, if you reinvest the money in the poor community, thats one step closer to closing that racial gap.

forget reparations if every black person was given just $2 invested properly many of their ills would vanish and this country would be better for it.Blacks evoling for a new world.

What is the hesitancy from whites about blacks receiving reparation checks(rightfully so)when you have allowed Bush to spend 500 billion dollars on a unjust and failed "war on terrorism"fight(i guess to some that is okay as long as blacks dont get a penny) .It has been acknowledged that Bush has increased terrorism not prevented it,So what is the problem with trying to right a wrong that was perpetrated on black american citizens,could it be that the offspring of the slaveowners still have racist feelings towards african-americans still?blacks already know the answer and to those blacks who dont want reparations lets make a list so they can state that they dont want anything if the reparations pass.And to the morons who think that public aid,etc.was made for blacks to make up for slavery ,read your history books they were invented to assist whites.(more non blacks are on these programs then blacks.Alot think jewish people should be compensated but not african americns ?what a joke people like Steinberg tries to use code words to incite racial hatred and to re- inflame in alot of whites that slaveholder mentality.Racebaters,racecard.please?blacks have had the race card played on them for 400 years,so when whites use that (race card )term they must not actually know how stupid they sound.(check your history)blacks have contributed more in american culture then any race.(inventions,music,clothes etc.)whites (not all)have negative things to say about black culture but check the news and see who are number one pedohiles and serial killers(84% white males) and killing little girls in Colombine school massacres.Actually african americans should be afraid to live around them ,not the other way around .Reparations may never pass because just like slavery their are too many whites willing to kill and die to keep blacks from receiving justice in this situation,Just like blacks survived slavery we will survive and succeed no matter what happens.Whites should fight as hard for peace and preventing racism as they do rationalizing why jewish people holocaust was worse then blacks "slavery times" .(both were caused by evil and ignorance)the major difference is racism in america continues to affect us(blacks especially) and all children ,no matter what color are suffering.I always have felt racism causes poverty and increases crime.What kind of legacy do we want to leave our kids.Quit attacking Ms.Mitchell for talking about subjects that are not favorites of whites,I am glad this type of media exists because it exposes people for who they are, and after all my mom used to say "everybody who smiles at you is not your friend"You have to be your own best friend no matter who you are!

As a Latino raised in the United States it has always bothered me when the issue of race is pitted as a struggle between white and black. In almost every medium, the question of racism is centered on the treatment of African Americans. Racism is not thiers and thiers alone. Being of Latin American descent I too had to see first hand the effects of racism and its' stranglehold on the economic and social progress of Latinos in this nation. Generations of Latinas have had to endure a multi-layered attack on our race from both whites and blacks because we are niether white nor black. Men like my Father and Grandfather were forced to endure institutionalized racist humuliation because thier first language was Spanish and second laguage a broken down English. Even today men like Ozzie Guillen can not speak publicly without prominent figures in the news medium either snickering or jeering at his attempt to speak English. When this occurs, no punishment is levied and no apologies are made even though it is a clear attack on a person's ethnic background.

If these same men publicly ridiculed any person of African American descent in the same context as Mr. Guillen, those men would be fired instantly, with apologies forthcoming.

Racism is ugly. Slavery was evil. No amount of reparation can bandage the scars left on the world community by the effects of slavery.

You see, Africans were not the only social group to endure slavery in the rise of this country, nor were they the only to suffer slavery in World History.

Natives to the New World, my ancestors, were enslaved, were murdered on the Caribean Islands as well as on the Mainland (North and South America) long before Africans were brought here.

Fast forward to today. Hurrican Katrina affected more than the African American community in New Orleans. It affected an entire Gulf Coast. A population of which covered the gammut of color and ethnic background.

I'm not debating whose culture suffered more. What I am suggesting is that this Nation and you remember the whole truth and not just the truth as you want it to be known.


I for one don't agree with Reparations. To me, that is another way that lazy black folks to get a fast, free buck. I believe that repatations belong to slaves not slave decendents. Instead of reparations, they should set up a college fund for African American college students for free college up to four years. Any thing after that than they would pay the rest. They can also use the money to set up learning centers, create jobs for African Americans but don't give the money directly to them. As an African American who would like to be wealthy someday, I know the only was to get wealthy is prayer and hard work. Wealth is not attain by holding your hand out and hope that the same federal government who took a millions years to respond to the victims of katrina just give you free money.

I don't think so, not in this America.

Mary, I'm extremely proud of your article on Reparations. I can't beleive how ignorant white America is. White America thinks that a check will be cut for all of us African Americans. How stupid can they be. We have College professors, Attorney's,Civil Right advocates and a whole host of well educated professional African American's who've developed a plan for a better chance at life, better then the one we have now. I'm so sick and tired of White people telling us what to do with are lives. After reading some of the blogs, Whites think that we're all on welfare and majority of us are either unemployed or receive welfare with know education at all. They all sound like Bill O'reilly,(racist).Most welfare is received by White Females and White Farmers. Affirmative Action has given a few African Americans a real chance at life. If it weren't for
this program, blacks would have never attended any major University.Whites don't even want that, so what make you think that they are willing to go along with Reparations. Good thing we don't have to go through the white population again, for their opinions.The 60's are over!!! I could go on an on about how African American's were robbed of their culture, history, language and land but I won't. Let's do this Legally, all the way to the Supreme court. WE DON'T NEED THE PUBLICS OPINION ON THIS ONE.

Mary,

Thank you for challenging Steinberg on this topic. Sorry you have to work with such a jerk. I found his column utterly despicable.

According to Steinberg, I guess all blacks should be grateful that they were slaves and just suck it up and deal with it.

That's the king of all insults. Unfortunately, there are many people who share his belief. That is just a horrifying thought.

People don't want freedom, they want to be cared for by big daddy (the paternalistic welfare state.) We can't have both. Demanding anything from government is a crime against freedom. No person or group should receive any remuneration from government. And people who support this or socialism are contributing to the erosion of our freedom and to the erosion of freedom for the next generation (their own children.) Because people continue to rob the treasury, politicians do the same. That's why democracy is often referred to as elected dictatorship.

Most of the people at the state legislature demanding (robbing) more from government are minority politicians. They think they can have it both ways, or they don't care. Ask not what government can do for you (believe me, ask it to do nothing), the less it do , the better for all. The more it does, the more it robs, and the more it destroys freedom. Do you want food, clothing, shelter, education and social incarceration? Or do you want freedom and to be free to pursue basic needs on your own. America owes nothing to Americans except freedom and their rights to freedom.

Chicago (Checagou) began with a capitalist spirit, but this changed to socialism; Daley has roots in this socialism. He is connected to socialists and anarchists. We need to revert to capitalism and free markets - that will be in the best interests of Blacks, the poor and all others.

Reparations are a crime against everyone's freedom. Reparations will harm the people they are intended to help. I'm not opposed to government providing basic services, or helping the poorest of the poor. But anything more is too much. Nothing is more pathetic than to hear people demand government handouts; they sound just like beggars who can't help themselves. Are you all helpless incompetents ?
Or are you individualists who do for yourselves - can you carry your own weight ? Will you continue to use a majority consensus to bully the country to sacrifice our freedom existence ? If you do your own children are destined to become the government's sheep.

Don't you remember when Americans used the government to help them justify and legalize slavery ? The government is your worst enemy; ask it to do nothing except maintain your freedom. Then we can all use it to advantage and be free.

In order to eliminate racism, one must grasp all forms of diversity. Such as embracing the theory of reparations for non black people as well. There were, for example, white slaves in America's history. Where are those people on the food chain of reparations? Where are the reparations for the Europeon immigrants that suffered from the same prejudice as African-Americans? If reperations has taken a 100 years to come to fruitition in the Black community, or any community for that matter, there can't be too much said for it. If reperations are to be paid out by the government, please e-mail me with the details, for I have something comming too. At least according to stories told to me by my Lithuanian, German, Irish, English, Roman Catholic and Jewish forebearers that had experienced a great loss of thier basic civil rights also. Prejudice in America is not confined to only African-Americans. Thank You.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

By "white slaves" are you speaking of indentured servants who, after working off their debt, were released?

The reparations debate is an insipid waste of time. Any thinking person with ten minutes to kill can come up with a laundry list of problems with the concept. To whit:
Since more than 1/3 of African Americans are at least 51% ethnically European, do they pay themselves? What if a person is 3/4 white? Perhaps we can adopt South Africa's old apartheid system of categorizing people by blood percentage.
What about African immigrants that came here following emancipation? On the one hand, you can argue they were oppressed by Jim Crow Laws, etc. On the other hand, you can argue their forefathers were the ones selling the ancestors of modern African Americans into slavery. So do they pay or get a check?
What about recent Eastern European immigrants- say from Serbia. They never enslaved blacks, but their ancestors were enslaved by Arabs and sold to black Africans (the word slave comes from "slav", as in Slavic countries of Eastern Europe). Do Eastern Europeans get a payment from African Americans after they get paid by descendants of Western Europeans? Do the descendants of Arabs get a free pass for being history's greatest enslavers?
What about the Irish? There were more Irish than African slaves in the Americas prior to 1800. St. Patrick's Day could become Irish Reparations Day. Those reparations checks could buy lots of green beer!
What if you were a descendant of slaves from Brazil or Cuba. Since your slave ancestry has nothing to do with American history, no check, right?
People, we need to get a grip and realize the institution of slavery is as old as mankind. All races have enslaved. All races have been slaves. What we owe each other is a pledge to stamp out slavery in the parts of the world it still exists and a sacred vow to never forget our past sins lest we repeat them.

First,let me start off by saying that I don't have an opinion on whether or not Black people should get reparations. As a black female living in america, i've grown into a mentality of "I'm just trying to make it by any means necessary". The cause of the state of Black people in this country today is a questionable one. We have the good and we have the bad...the rich/poor,middle,lower upper clase..,.etc...Just like any other race. But remember we are the only race of people who were stolen from their country to be slaves and yes we are to thank for alot of the comeuppance of this country dating back hundreds of years ago...Now one thing that helped me understand why we are the way are is reading the willie lynch address...Steinberg should take a look at that to try to get a better understanding of the breakdown of the the black family as a unit, and sociologically explaining the state of my people today. Now me not being one to make excuses...no we don't have to be stuck in a rut...yes there is a way to get out of the "ghetto". But I have accepted that there is a glass ceiling...and I am continuing to be a Black woman trying to make it.

Is that a blog entry, or a manifesto?

There would be no rights for blacks if not for the Jews, for they knew that getting Blacks their due would open the door to other groups getting equal treatment.

But giving money to people that did not earn it is wrong for ANY culture.

You have to ask:

1. What does it teach the people that get it?

2. Really, as Steinberg said, what would be the alternative if slaves were not brought here - would that really be better?

3. Where would this money come from, and who would be surrendering it? All payments of any kind in any business must be re-couped - and the general public would indeed either directly or indirectly suffer if free money was given out just because one's ancestor was given teh GIFT of a trip to the US to be civilized an deventually be integrated into society.

Ridiculous.

I am against reparations. Every single group of people in the world has been subjugated or enslaved at some point. Besides, my white Irish, English, Jewish, German, Russian, Methodist and Catholic people were not here!

We need to move on. In the U. S. we are so lucky that we basically all get along. That is not the case in many countries between tribes, religious or ethnic groups. The Arab groups who are still upset about the Crusades need to get over it! Do we want to be the same as them in 700 yers?

Besides, with inter racial marriage, intermingling of music and culture, we will eventually become a more homogenious group over the next 100-200 years. The days of marrying completley within your ethnic group are also over.

Instead of fueling the flames of liberal race mongering we should be searching for ways to show the young people how to be successful in our ever changing world.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

How does a discussion about reparations fuel the flames of liberal race mongering?

I have yet to read what good reparations would do. What would this money be used for?
How would it benefit Black people?
I think job training and actual jobs are the most critical ingredients of a new life.
We have seen that the welfare system is destructive and it would be tragic for this to be just more handouts.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Before we can begin to talk about what good reparations would do, we have to agree that a debt is owed.

"Tired of getting over it"
Why is it when some conversations, regarding injustices in this country comes to the forefront, we always get this loud bosterious group demanding that YOU should get over it and move on!!
My Grandfather, (mother's father) who I never had the opportunity to meet (just pictures) died on a country road in West Carroll, Parish La. because the local hospital did not treat Black People.
" My Grandmother and her siblings were told to get over it" My Father and Uncle who spent 5 years in an Arkansas State Prison (1936) for a crime that they had nothing to do with, because Black people could not testify against Whites "his parents and siblings were told to get over it". My aunt who for some chance miracle ended up with a college degree,(1948) wasn't able to vote because of the voting literacy test, she was told to " get over it". My parents who relocated to Chicago and were told that they could only live in one particular area of Chicago, was told "to get over it". I enter the Chicago public School System, I was introduced to :"The Willis Wagons" as a classroom, because Blacks were only allowed to go to schools in racial designated areas. " I was told to get over it" Years later I applied for employment with the City of Chicago, after not getting the job, (I knew, I passed that test). " I was told to get over it". Sometime later, a review of the testing procedures that were administrated by the City of Chicago was deemed illegal and had systematically excluded certain people based on race, I got the job, and some 30 years later I have retired.
Year after year, time after time, I would always hear this phrase " get over it". Affirmative Actions enablement began in the year 1964.....so for some 40 + years, Some Blacks have benefited through this programs, AA is not an exclusively for Blacks only programs, that some people choose to believe. Could you just imagine if AA was firmly in placed for a year by year
redress for all of the inequalities that many minorities had to suffer under, could you imagine the open sobbing, weeping, cursing, finger pointing, back stabbing, screaming that these people would be doing. I mean after a mere 40+ years some of these people are at their wits end. As far as reparation, its just fodder for conversation. Personaly I say to these people "GET OVER IT" !

As a white man, who has lived in the black community{70th+Halsted}for over 10 years,I can tell you that the court is the only way for reparations to become fact.The same set of facts will lead to very different points of view,depending on the color of the eyes doing the viewing.It always amazes me that those who are born with the most advantages,take them as deserved beniffits

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Thank you for your post. it was refreshing.

This is for Mr. Steinberg,
He claims reparations will never materialize and he pointed to one instance that was a much smaller problem, somewhat similar, that government failed to handle which he uses to prove that reparations cannot be given effectively because this problem wasn't and is not going to be solved effectively... Hurricane Katrina. Well to help you out Mr. Steinberg Hurricane Katrina victims (African-Americans) weren't neglected because of the government's inadequacy, but because of the same issue that created slavery, prejudice, and discrimination for African-Americans for years even unto this day, RACSISM. To say the government is inadequate would be, as you stated, foolish. If they can pump 100 billion into a vain war, put thousands of American soldiers in harm's way, and profit from the stealing of oil and other resources in Iraq, how could this type of entity be inadequate. Furthermore, they can simply make money as the Federal Reserve does everyday. This was a flaw in your argument. Reparations should not be 10,000 dollars to every African-American, this I agree with, but to say it's not possible, is dead wrong. The Jews and Japanese did receive reparations, and even Native Americans to some degree, but it just so happens that the people of the darkest complexion has not even been apologized to, let alone given a fresh start in the late 1800's when slavery was supposedly abolished. The reparations argument I would adamantly support is one where African-Americans are given FREE EDUCATION, in particular college education, since this is the very thing that whites prevented us from attaining years ago which was the main source of oppression. Of course you're saying how can government do such a thing. The same way that government did it for Jews, Japanese, and Native Americans, just do it, stop providing excuses for why it will not work.

To Kendra, your ignorance would be funny if it were not so sad. You refer to a book in your previous post that calls the "three strikes rule" in California affirmative action for whites? You say this rule has imprisoned thousands of black and brown men while providing white men jobs. The three strikes rule applies to ALL criminals, not just black criminals! And if this three strikes rule has imprisoned more blacks than whites, then that means more crime is committed in California by blacks than whites. So this is not affirmative action for whites(there is no such thing today), this means that blacks should stop committing crimes in California. Do the people on this blog realize the lunacy us white people have to deal with when discussing race with blacks? And calling the three strikes rule AA for whites is just the latest example.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

This is what I don't understand, Jerry. If discussing race with blacks is lunancy, then why are you on this blog? Why aren't you on the white supremacy blog spewing your anti-black rhetoric?

The debate over reparations will never go forward until the basic question of who will pay and who will get paid are addressed. For instance will the descendants of civil war veterns who fought and died to end slavery and immigrants who came to this country well after slavery was abolished have to pay? And will Africans who immigrated to this country after slavery stand to gain? Until these questions are addressed the people who never owned slaves aren't very likely to pay people who never were slaves. And Ald. Dorothy Tillmans quote of "40 acres and a Lexus" simply adds nothing to the debate.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Point of clarification: Ald. Dorothy Tillman didn't maike that statement, another alderman did. As for who will pay,

"MITCHELL COMMENT:Before we can begin to talk about what good reparations would do, we have to agree that a debt is owed. "

Mary, what is idea of a debt owed? Cant we agree that most cultures and races are owed a debt from somewhere in their bloodline.

You are so blinded by your own hatred, you refuse to acknowledge the plight of anyone else. You are not the only disfortunate race in the world. You are a bigger racist the Strom Thurmond and Louis farrankan put together. Open your eyes one day and see the world what what it should be and is. People, not colors.

I try to think you're a good writer and journalist, but you're not. In order to be a good writer, you should start to write about a little more than black suffrage. Try expanding your mind to see everything else the world has to offer.

Or if you really are a crusader for civil rights and the removing of racist heirarchy, start expanding your column to focus on other races and cultures.

How come you only comment on ignorant postings and not valid points. How much of a fight are you looking for and will you ever submit to a good point no matter which side.

One last question. Do you ever look as a Muslin with a veil twice or a middle eastern man with scourn? Answer the question truthfully to yourself and admit to yourself your inner feelings.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

There's no point in arguing with someone who doesn't respect your opinions, now is it? Regardless of whether you like it or not, I get to be the judge of what's considered a "valid point."


"MITCHELL COMMENT:

Before we can begin to talk about what good reparations would do, we have to agree that a debt is owed."

Yes, but by whom, and to who?

I admit that while sympathetic to the cause, as a descendant of northerners (several of whom fought for the North during the Civil War) I have a hard time understanding exactly how it is my "people" benefitted from slave labor on Southern cotton plantations.

I agree *some* white people did, but aren't those people the ones who owned slaves?

the cotton was shipped to Europe for the most part, nobody in the North working in a factory or on a farm got any economic benefit from that.

I don't think working even in the worst factories is on the same magnitude as being a slave by a long shot, but if anything, slavery as an instutition hurt your average Northerner as well as it depressed wages.

what I do agree with is that this country's legacy of slavery has put all descendants of slaves at a massive economic disavantage,
not being able to either accumulate wealth or pass it down to your children manifests itself in the stark reality that not as many black people are homeowners and thus, the stability that comes with not being at the mercy of a landlord (who might boot you out at any time) was never enjoyed.

So what sort of realistic program could be undertaken to recognize & address this?

OK...

this is crazy... If we are to right all the wrongs done to people in the past than we will NEVER get to a better future... what about the Indians... what about the poor europeans that were brought over... Please stop and think about what you are saying before you spit out garbage...

many people have been wronged by many people...

To say a certain Race has been disenfranchised is ridiculous... where would they be if they were never brought to the states? How is reparations going to benefit anyone...dolling out cash will not solve any problems Mary Mitchell...Didnt you learn this with Katrina...

nice line btw... what does that mean... I always read your column looking to see how you are going to continue to divide people with your crazy ideas and thoughts... why not try to bring people together instead...

Katrina huh... please lady you know nothing of what happened there... Did ya ever think maybe people should learn to take care of themselves instead of always looking for the bailout???

Man people are just defeatists we need to start taking responsibility for our OWN actions ... not cry about the past and cry about the stuff that id OWED to them...please

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Reparations payments include:

1990-U.S.A.: $1.2 billion- Japanese Amerians;
1986-U.S.A.: $32 million- 1836 Treaty/Ottawas of Michigan
1985-U.S.A.:31 million -Chippewas of Wisconsin
etc., etc., etc.

OH please answer this...

Why is senator Obama going to africa????

so basically we just paid for him to take a vacation to visit his relatives ...

And nobody speaks out !!!

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Senator Obama paid for his trip to Africa.

OH please answer this...

Why is senator Obama going to africa????

so basically we just paid for him to take a vacation to visit his relatives ...

And nobody speaks out !!!

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Senator Barak Obama paid for his own trip.

I was really offened when the suggetion was made that the kidnapping, Slavery, Rape, Sepration of families, culture and religion is better that the alternative of it never happening. How can anyone say that Africa would not be further along if the Europeans had not forced their will and ideolgy and took the land that was occupied by natives. How far along would American be without the contributions, inventions, Labor, Athletics, Art, Music & Military participation of African Americans. Yes, I was offended but not supprised. Cassius M. Williams

When the slaves was set free it was only in words. Plantations continued to be the home for many slaves. They were not allowed to vote, live in certain areas, work in certain companies and not allowed to attend many schools. There was not a public school system for ex-slaves. I do not think that we are free today as we are limited by our economic ststus. I was one of the successful Blacks. My job of plant manager was in a plant that employed 800 people. Only one could be plant manager. We are currently working for wages that do not allow us to so much as buy a new car. Whites receive far more welfare in the name of assistance than we will ever receive. If you do not have any boots you cannot pull yourself up by your boots. Even those of us who have well paying jobs cannot reack back and bring along but a few as we are worker and not owners. We need afr more than reparations. We need to be taught by a system that is designed to help us become better citizens instead of being thrown into mostly inadequate schools with teachers who are not held responsible. We need to teach parents how to be responsible parents. Otherwise we will continue along the path to destruction.

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Love you Ms Mitchell, forgive me for the tone of this message, but it needs to be said.
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Reparations for Americans of African descent:

When do we want? NOW!

Why do we want it? Centuries of (euro) privileges which has given white majority a solid foothold in the basic fundamentals of America's riches which were built upon the slave labor which was liberally not thought of as inhumane.

Mighty damn strange, the alleged forefathers loved having sexual relations with the slave women, ain't it so my WHITE BROTHAS AND SISTAS?!

Mighty funny the same little brothers and sisters fathered by YOUR DADDY was sold to other slave owners, yet you cried when they mistreated the slave woman who took care of your little spineless butts, whose children were sold!

How dare some of you deny my kinship as though yours is purer as the first day of a winter blast of snow!!

You damn skippy I want my CHECK! It is owed to me for the degradation of a genocidal social fabric breakdown of the AFRICAN people. I KNOW DARN well I can look back into my genealogy, and state PROUDLY my African forefathers did NOT enslave people, and dealt more harshly with them base on the color of their skin.

It was the WHITE forefathers, and I want my inheritance the same as YOU GOT YOURS!!

European colonization shows the ever present of killing off previous societies while trying to make the white race seem so peaceful. Yeah right! This is the arrogance of an enslaver of who refuses to see their ill-mannered ideology being dangerous to any who don't LOOK like them.

As for figuring out the amount, the University of Chicago, seems to always have a plethora of Nobel Prize winners for Economics.

I am willing to take a chance on them getting together and coming forth with a realisitc plan! BUT I want serveral African American economists, sociologists, pyschologists and other behavior specialists to be in the room when the figure is decided upon. IF THESE BLACK INTELLECTUALS FEEL THIS IS NOT ENOUGH to right the wrongs, and to at least get Black Americans on equal footing, WE GONNA keep going to the drawing board until we get it right!!

How white people think 250 years of physical enslavement, another 100 years of physical intimidation after Emancipation Proclamation was signed, and the last 40 years of having to simply keep debating about a DAMN BASIC SIMPLE RIGHT such as be able to VOTE, is beyond comprehension!

Do why white people have to keep signing a bill to ensure that their VOTING RIGHTS are PROTECTED?.

NO, you numbskulls!!

Give me what is due to me the same as white people have received theirs.

Thank you very much!

Instead of money I would to see the door of equal oppotunity open wide.Closed the borders of blacks communities to the onslaught contraband(drugs,guns,alcohol,etc) Fairness in hiring,promotion,and business loans. If we can disband the good ole boys clubs,white will get a chance to earn their way,instead of private hand-outs. I think equal oppotunity is the best thing for America

America has gotten away with it. It is difficult for me to deal with his reality every day but it is the truth. We will most likely never see reparations for the
crime of slavery. That's fine with me. I don't want any of America's blood money.
Japanese residents were offered reparations after World War two because our country saw an advantage in developing future trade relations with Japan after the war. There was hardly any remorse involved. Even if we were to receive reparations, they would not help us to succeed unless we were to unite as one community. It is understandable that blacks are reluctant to unite after the way the original Civil Rights movement ended but if we were to unite for the common good, there would be no need to demand reparations from white people.

For the 100 years, blacks have lived together mostly because we were not allowed to live anywhere else. In Chicago, we were piled on top of one another like sardines in the Projects. We need to create communities of choice, not an abscence of choices.

To white immigrants who negate their own responsibility I say this: If your immigrant grandparents came to America with no knowledge of English, no money and no property and were able to recieve business loans, home loans and ammenities when English-speaking, American born black citizens could not get a dime, it is undeniable that you and your family have benifitted immensely from slavery.

To all of the phonies who call for black responsibility: If you want to help blacks become successful, tell them how you became successful. Don't come up with any of those idiotic responses such as "I worked hard" or "I perseverd". Whether they're selling drugs and dodging bullets in the ghetto or earning degrees in college and buying properties, all of America's blacks are working hard. Laziness is not the issue.

Any "fair" and "logical" discussion of how blacks have benifitted from slavery would have to be followed by an equally "logical" discussion of how white America has profited from black welfare dependency, the inner-city drug trade, black poverty, the AIDS epidemic, the Civil Rights movement, Abolition of slavery, Diversity, Historically Black Institutions and Affirmative Action.

Fact: Black Americans have fought in every major American war, including the Civil war.

Fact: Black Americans have worked in every American industry and contributed greatly to American democracy.

Fact: Whites owe as much of America's prosperity to blacks as blacks owe to whites.

There is no such thing as a "less qualified" black student being admitted into a university over a "more qualified" white student. If the particular student passes the entrance exam and has the appropriate preparatory schooling, she is qualified to go to that university. Whites don't have to outscore every other white person in order to get into college, blacks shouldn't have to either.

Black Americans should be outraged at the handling of the Iraq occupaition by our white government. It's effortlessly easy for whites to pretend that they don't remember all of the horrible things that have been done to blacks-"It happend before I was even born"-as if that's supposed to make some kind of difference in the matter. But in Iraq, these Civil Rights abuses are occurring every second of every day, right in front of us. How will white America respond 3 years from now when former Guantanamo Bay detainees (99% of whom are not guilty of any crime) start demanding reparations for their unlawful and unnecessary detainment and torture in violation of the Geneva conventions? "Get over it" I guess.


Okay so because some person who lived in the projects can now move into a condo does not mean a thing for reparations. Many of the problems that exist today happened during the Reconstruction Era and Jim Crow. Think about this, Madam CJ Walker owned one of the largest hair care companies in the world, a certified millionaire. But due to a racist city and legal escapades, she lost her business. Imagine if that would have happened to the Ford family? Someone walking up in their company space and literally taking their businss and giving it away. How would that change their family lineage? Or if you are told that based on the color of your skin you are limited to a certain job type no matter what you create or the skills you have? Basically whites were given a head start. And it is a known fact even today, if you take a white man off the street, even homeless, clean him up, create a resume for him, he would get a job based on looks and name over a black person. We are still hated that much today. And the corporations that receive welfare REFUSE to hire blacks from the city. CDW for example. The list goes on. How many people come to the city from the burbs everyday? You mean that if you live in the city, you cannot get a job at all for any private corporation? Give me a break. I have seen white female secretaries become managers without any skills, and at the same company, blacks have worked for years and get passed over. No one makes up these claims. I do not know of any black person who want a handout. What we want is a fair opportunity, equal rights and distribution of wealth. When that happens let me know. We can achieve, just need the breaks that whites have gotten a huge headstart on.

This debate, or difference of opinion and perspective between Mary Mitchell and Neil Steinberg, is why myself and Chris Graham find ourselves in the same U. S. Court of Appeals as Judge Richard Posner, attempting to gain a measure of justice and respect from Cingular Wireless, who has been quoted in the "SCENDIS Report" as stating; "Affirmative Action Will Hurt The Company." This is such a potentially explosive revelation that Judge Posner's U.S. Court of Appeals has deemed it necessary to put this document under court seal, thereby not allowing anyone to see and read what more Cingular Wireless has to say about blacks. But, despite this document being put under seal, affidavits in my particular case,has agents of Cingular Wireless referring to blacks on the Southside of Chicago as "SCUM OF THE EARTH, which Judge Posner has indicated in "Adams vs. Wal-Mart" and "Troup", states that this is a "Mosaic" indicator of discrimination, yet, they are attempting to keep it under cover. Additionally, in Chris Graham's case, racist graffiti at an Oak Brook cell site, stating; "KILL THE NIGGERS", is not persuavive enough for these judges to render justice. And the nerve of Judge Ann Williams to recuse herself! Would a Jewish judge recuse himself in a Holocaust case? Yes, we can only seem to get a measure of justice through the courts, and when we do have an opportunity to balance the scales of justice, we have a black Judge recusing herself. As the late Lou Palmer used to say; "It is enough to make a Negro turn black." Reparations, that is the very least that we are owed!

Dennis Moore

demoore21@sprintpcs.com

The ignorance of whites amaze me ,they even use this instance to let their real feelings show anonymously.How can blacks expect the offspring of slaveowners to have empathy towards their point of view?They are the most hypocritical mass murdering bunch of phonies ever created. The funny thing is most are so stupid they dont know that their own scientists have proved through DNA taken from white men that they are descended from a common african women yes from AFRICA,so those "whites" who have all of these racist comments about blacks and think its cute,you only have been talking about yourselves!

The only institution that should be held accountable for slavery is the Democratic Party, if JP Morgan should be held responsible for what happened 100 years ago, so should the democratic party. Slavery could not have, would not have exsisted without the democrats. The republicans werethe ones who freed the slaves!

My basis is the Democratic party was the protector of slavery and it raised funds from slave owners to run elections. Therefore being we had a little war in 1860's which was fought by the Democrats and slavery supporters against the independants and republicans ,and anti slavery forces. If 120 years plus ago J.P. Morgan benefitted from slavery, it was a minor player, the Democratic party was the true protector of slavery and the one institution that benfitted the most from slavery. Therefore the argument could/should be made that a reparations case against the Democratic party is as valid as JP Morgan. Hard for you liberals to believe your party was so naughty! Reparations , let me guess another for of welfare? The great society all over again.

I agree with reparations, but only when black people quit lying to themselves and hold the democratic party responsible for its actions! As soon as I see them admit guilt, whats changed wasnt welfare a form of reparations? Wasnt that what it was meant for? FACT: THE PROTECTOR OF SLAVERY = DEMOCRATIC PARTY! UNDENIABLE! WHO BENEFITTED THE MOST FROM SLAVERY, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY! WHO, LIKE TODAY DID WE FIGHT A CIVIL WAR AGAINST THE ANTI AMERICAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY. LINCLON AND U S GRANT SHOULD HAVE DONE WHAT WE DID TO GERMANY AFTER WW2 , BAN THAT PARTY.

After weighing in on the so-called "Reparations debate between Mitchell/Steinberg" yesterday, I felt compelled to add more of my thoughts and concerns, as I was truly disturbed by what I read. First of all, it was not a debate. Mary Mitchell gave her thoughts and opinion from her perspective as a black female, having lived and experienced the black condition, and, of course, her opinion(s) and viewpoint might tend to be persuaded by the experience. Neil Steinberg gave his opinion(s) and viewpoint from that of a white male, and of the Jewish persuasion. Incidentally, my being black and having a long history and experience of what it means to be black, I totally embrace and endorse everything that Mary Mitchell said. In all the years that I have been following her columns, that was the most eloquent, heartfelt and insightful article that she had ever written, in my opinion.

In further regard to Mr. Steinberg, his statement of; "So one can definitely point to - for instance - slavery and say it also resulted in some good, the most obvious being the inclusion of blacks into the American story, contributing to, enhancing the nation in countless ways, from peanut butter and jazz to Justice Thurgood Marshall and Barack Obama, the next president of the United States", as one of the most condescending and possibly racist statements that I have ever heard from a white person, and we seem to hear them all the time. And, I am not at all sure that Barack Obama will get anywhere close to being the next president of the United States, as he seems to dodge the hard questions. Just recently, Laura Washington, a co-columnist of Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times, made notice of the fact that Senator Obama seems to run away from a discussion of the reparations issue in her column. The reparations issue will certainly be a litmus test for many espousing to represent and/or be leaders in the black community. The whole world is watching just what position Senator Obama will take on that issue, just as they are watching Appeals Court Judge Ann Williams recusal from entering the fray on the reparations issue.

The next time that I am in a voter's booth and Senator Obama, or something he supports is an issue, I certainly will have in my mind where he stood when we needed his voice the most, just as I will have similar consideration(s) of Appeals Judge Ann Williams. It is unimaginable how, and why, Appeals Judge Ann Williams would choose to recuse herself from this raging issue. She can not escape her heritage, the fact that she is a black woman and will always be viewed as such, no matter what heights she rise to in life. Ann Williams, being the only African-American jusrist on the court, can certainly do a lot more good in this debate by her inclusion in it, than her recusing herself. I am sure she has an opinion, good or bad, and it should be voiced, no matter her position on the court, which brings up another interesting prospect.

I have an appeal currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Dennis Moore vs. Cingular Wireless (06 - 1928), and it could very well be assigned to Judge Williams. As my appeal involves employment and racial discrimination, and management at Cingular Wireless stating in the SCENDIS Report, that;"Affirmative Action Will Hurt The Company", is Judge Williams going to recuse herself from my case also? Additionally, another appeal before the Seventh Circuit, Christopher Graham vs. Cingular Wireless, raises similar issues of racial and employment discrimination, with the company even being associated with racist graffiti, stating; "KILL THE NIGGERS." If this particular case was to be assigned to Judge Williams, is she going to cut and run, or recuse herself? Mary Mitchell is right when she states; "I wouldn't be so quick to say reparations won't happen", which Neil Steinberg seemed to disagree with.

I also agree with Mary Mitchell's sentiments, when she stated; "A critical voice removed", persumably in regard to Appeals Court Judge Ann Williams opting to recuse herself from the reparations debate, and inexplicably refusing to give a reason why. I am saddened, and greatly dis-illusioned by this stance on the part of this black woman, Appeals Court Judge Ann Williams. I am perplexed, I just do not understand it!

Dennis Moore

demoore21@sprintpcs.com

Reparations? Give me a break! Almost every ethnic & racial group has experienced some issues over the years. I don't hear any other group crying for something that was done over a hundred years ago.

What are we going to do? Hand over millions of LINK cards as reparations? Oh, wait a minute...we do that anyway.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Last time I went to the grocery store, I noticed white people using a Link card. Do you consider that reparations?

Ms Mitchell, have you gotten behind on posting emails again,or is there a cutoff date, or limit to a particular subject topic you write about, which a person's posting will never see on your blog.

I know sometimes I vent harshly, but it is to let others know I don't care for asking former oppressors for anything. Why would your oppressor give you the same items they presently hold, when initially did everything unreasonable to keep other people from having the same opportunities?

MITCHELL COMMENT:

No Doug---With the election coming up, I'm wearing three hats right now. Unless your e-mail contains racial slurs or inflammatory language, it will get posted. You're free to vent--respectfully.

If black people think others look at them with suspicion, they're right. But its not because of their skin color, its because of their racist politics.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

O.K., explain what you mean by racist politics.

Jerry, First of all I didn't say anything about about the 3 strikes rule being AA for White people, Sharon Martinas did. Second out of 12 examples you chose to pick one to argue about. Were you unable to come up with any biting wit about the other 11?

"To white immigrants who negate their own responsibility I say this: If your immigrant grandparents came to America with no knowledge of English, no money and no property and were able to recieve business loans, home loans and ammenities when English-speaking, American born black citizens could not get a dime, it is undeniable that you and your family have benifitted immensely from slavery."

I understand how descendants of slaves suffered from racism, but how does that equate to the afore-mentioned groups benefitting from slavery?

No slaves provided business loans or amenities to immigrants who came here after the end of the Civil War, so how are you getting from point A to point B?

To the moderator, you wonder why I am on this site and not any white supremacy sites? That insult is a joke coming from a racist hater like yourself. You just don't like what I have to say because you like your white people to be groveling, guilty white liberals who are afraid to disagree with you for fear of being called a racist. Well, call me a racist, I don't care! Because I understand why you and most of your people don't like what I have to say. It's because I speak the truth. Because a white guy who is not afraid to speak the truth is a black person's worst nightmare.

As I am truly disturbed over what has been coming out of the so-called "Mitchell/Steinberg" debate, particularly as it relates to Neil Steinberg's mis-informed comments, and Appellate Court Judge Ann Williams decision to recuse herself from the reparations issue, I feel it appropriate to put this debate in perspective.

In an earlier Mary Mitchell column, she indicate that it was District Court Judge Charles Norgle that dismissed the reparations lawsuit, which is how the case got before Judge Ann Williams, Judge Posner, and the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The 7th Circuit is known to be one of the most conservative of all the U.S. Courts of appeals. Conservative could very well be a euphenism for racist, although I am not going there.

In frurther regard to District Court Judge Charles Norgle, a white judge, that brought the reparations case before the court of appeals, he is the same district court judge that dismissed the case of Christopher Graham vs. Cingular Wireless, without comment, a case of racial and employment discrimination. In Mr. Graham's case, this is documentation of racist graffiti at an Oak Brook cell cite, stating' "KILL THE NIGGERS", yet, that does not seem to be persuasive enough for the court to allow the case to go to trial, instead, Judge Norgle just seems to arbitraily dismiss the case. It makes one wonder just what type of deliberation, or thinking, he put into making his decision in the reparation case. Now, we have Judge Posner of this court of appeals questioning in a hearing as to "why it took 100 years for us as a people to take issue with how we were treated."

I actually left Chicago almost 2 years ago, after also being embroiled in a racial and employment discrimination lawsuit against Cingular Wireless. Despite re-locating to San Diego, California, and motioning the court for appointmnet of counsel, change of venue to a court in California, and the release of the court sealed "SCENDIS REPORT", this very conservative court ruled against these motions, basically having me fight my case there in Chicago from out here in San Diego. They are currently reviewing my briefs and considering my appeal. Trust that Judge Ann Williams will not recuse herself from my case or that of Chris Graham, in the event it is assigned to her.

Kendra, I didn't talk about the other points you made because most, if not all of them were from a previous century or from 40 or 50 years ago. Which makes those points irrelevant today.

Dennis.... who wrote that stuff on the s***house wall over at Cingular? Wow, I certainly think a little graffitti by an anonymous source indicates a culture of corporate racism. Can't understand why your frivolous lawsuit is stuck in reverse.

Truth...you take whites to task for posting anonymously here. Well champ, unless "Truth" is the name on your birth certificate, don't puff your chest too much over your bravery either.

Renault Robinson....I hope the reparations scam does go all the way to the Supreme Court...thank God for President Bush and thank God for his Supreme Court appointees. How ya like them apples RR?


"To white immigrants who negate their own responsibility I say this: If your immigrant grandparents came to America with no knowledge of English, no money and no property and were able to recieve business loans, home loans and ammenities when English-speaking, American born black citizens could not get a dime, it is undeniable that you and your family have benifitted immensely from slavery."

"I understand how descendants of slaves suffered from racism, but how does that equate to the afore-mentioned groups benefitting from slavery?

No slaves provided business loans or amenities to immigrants who came here after the end of the Civil War, so how are you getting from point A to point B?"

RC I'm confused as to the reason that you are confused. Immigrants came to this country and were able to build new lives upon the work that slaves were made to do. Even though many might not have spoken a word of English they were Europeans and not black. And as a product of America's racists policies toward particular groups of non white people immigrants were able to take advantage of things those people born in this country were not allowed do. By virtue of immigrants having "white privilege" they made financial gains at blacks and others expense. And even though it took awhile even the Irish were allowed to "become white" and thus enjoy all that came with it. The "loan" that slaves provided was the land they worked that immigrants were ALLOWED to purchase and build their American Dream upon!

Dennis

You raise some excellent points. The point on Obama is a good one and puts him in a spot. As a white man, I would lean toward voting for Obama if he decides to run. His stance on reparations puts him in a difficult spot. Compare his situation to Luis Guitierez, whose constituents are mainly hispanics and many of them law breakers. Despite this, he essentially condones their actions, knowing full well that he has no other choice. Obama on the other hand has a growing base of white, former Republican voters who want nothing to do with reparations. I suspect Obama will continue to dodge this question so as not to lose a chunk of votes.

What's guys!!!!!

I am reading your blogs, and majourity of you guys and gals---don't see the most obvious thing.

While I agree that slavery was awful experience for blacks, may I remind you that many other nations were enslaved to many other nations: have you guys forgotten about middle ages when armies would wage wars, and when they would win they would turn peopleof the country they had just conquered into....SLAVES, yes Slaves. It happened with Irish, Slovak, Jews, Cathliks, and many other races.

So, please don't use the excuse of Slavery for the benefit of the entitlement; All you have to do is WORK, I know nowadays, everybody in America feels like America owes them omething: fact is, America owes you nothing except when it comes to giving you an opportunity to work and make a good living.
Everything else is up to you.

So, eneough abouth the Repparations----next topic please.

Anybody disagrees, have them e-mail me. I will try to instill the common sense back into their brains.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Eugene, If you don't want to participate in the reparations discussion, no one's twisting your arm.

to Juan Linares: Call me WHITE. None of this 'Euro-American' garbage, please..

to Wallace 'Gator' Bradley: You are a URBAN TRANSLATOR ? I've heard of everything now. Now who created this job? Is it through the public-sector or private? Let me guess, some guilt-ridden liberal who lives in the 'ivory white towers' and/or some 'gold coast' where average and poor folks of all races could never live created this job for you. Right? Again, are taxpayers paying your salary? Sounds to me like you just got your reparation already... Hey, speaking of reparations, weren't you a bigshot in the gangs? Lets see, more young black males have been murdered by other young black males in the large cities of America in the last 10 years then Jim Crow/KKK murdered in the entire century. The gangs have brought violence, fear, death, and destruction to the Black Community. Maybe gang-leaders should also be made to pay rather than receive reparations...I'd like Mary's opinion on that?

MITCHELL COMMENT:

This is a different issue. Reparations is about the institituion of slavery. Gangs, like every other criminal enterprise have caused destruction in our communities and those involved in these activities should be prosecuted.

The Jer meister(bro) and shecky fuller####!you just dont get it do you.Hitler had similar thoughts as you two do and he had a not so pretty end.Gangs were not invented by African-americans(mafia,Al capone)yada,yadadid you forget? .You can sit all day and praise the Pres. as the white mans hero and try to rewrite history but that wont work.this present admin.will go down as most inept and corrupt ever!All of the racist comments towards others and the disrespect shown towards Ms mitchell just shows the coward that you really are.
How anyone would think you would hold a decent conversation on any subject is beyond me.you will just use any forum to spew your untrue B.S.

Jerry anyone can see you are a reichwinger and shecky fulla####,your logic sounds illogical(flashback from star trek)Blacks dont want handouts unlike Halliburton and "tax break" that you crave for yor buddies just a level playing field and compensation(reparation )these are things whites sue for everyday and due to the racist legal system they are usually successful.why shouldnt african-americans be compensated for wrongs that occurred to their relatives(murder,rape forced labor without compensation)to me it is whites who think they are entitiled to things not blacks.(read history books)Welfare an the such was made for whites not blacks ,statistically their are more non blacks that use these services (dont get it twisted)The white mans biggest fear Is a educated Black man or woman(hence the hatred spewed by designated racists in this blog and around the globe)And to all uncle Toms if slavery is ever reinstated(not that far from reality as one might think)with our shrinking rights due to neocons plan for the man,I hope you enjoy returning to a lifestyle of pain and torture since you claim not to "want " anything .That is not the point ,but if money was given I am sure you would brush off your "ghetto pass"and try to be first in line.Props to kendra and others out there, black and white who are smart enough to see through all the racist codewords and screams of "race card "by whites(what a joke the race card has been played on blacks for 400 years)in closing you "what you reap is what you sow" black or white(or green or yellow) Chicago, Dr.Martin luther King said was "one of the most segregated and racist cities he has ever been in".I wonder if he was still here if he would shake his head and wonder why most whites are still living out Jim Crow fantasies in 2006 .Dont get it twisted ,This is a response to the hatred spewed against people who just want justice,just like the jewish people were given ,The japanese etc.But I guess most whites would rather see Bush steal all your money(500 billion) and pretend he is spending it on "war on terrorism".(more like making Halliburton rich on the blood of our troops) Anything but compensating or apologizing to blacks who so rightfully deserve it.(Justice delayed is justice denied) ,There actually isnt a monetary amount that can be placed on the human suffering of the slave trade(when you think about it) but something is better then nothing!They even are late with the 40 acres and a mule B.S!People wake up,stand up for your rights! No matter what the naysayers say you are on the "right" side.Peace...Truth

"RC I'm confused as to the reason that you are confused. Immigrants came to this country and were able to build new lives upon the work that slaves were made to do. Even though many might not have spoken a word of English they were Europeans and not black. And as a product of America's racists policies toward particular groups of non white people immigrants were able to take advantage of things those people born in this country were not allowed do. By virtue of immigrants having "white privilege" they made financial gains at blacks and others expense. And even though it took awhile even the Irish were allowed to "become white" and thus enjoy all that came with it. The "loan" that slaves provided was the land they worked that immigrants were ALLOWED to purchase and build their American Dream upon!"

I still think you are confusing apples and oranges.

The profits that slaveowners made in the South went back in their pockets, and supported their estate and heirs and their high standard of living.

But a guy who came into America into a northern city and worked at a factory, or on a farm, didn't receive any benefit from this. Poor immigrants in the north weren't given opportunities to buy land that slaves worked, that would go against the entire concept of owning a plantation, you don't sell the land, you use slave labor to maximize your profit from the land, so I don't follow that line of thinking at all.

And just look at the white poverty that has endured in Appalachia, how can you argue that those people benefitted from slavery when so many were & are literally dirt poor?

I can see a case for the country needing to own up to the problems traced to slavery, as the government allowed the condition to persist.

But I think it's a stretch to try and apply that on a level that every individual who came here who wasn't a slave somehow was a recipient of benefits due to slavery.

again, I don't think it matters in the larger context, but you place a very difficult bar to clear by making that argument, as now you must prove this direct link - how do you do that? how do you place a dollar amount of having the "opportunity" to buy land - there are millions of white people in this country who didn't then and don't today own any land.

If there hadn't been slavery the opportunities you speak of would still have been present, I just see no reason to muddy the issue.

Slaves were denied basic, human rights. This can easily be proven to have led to a widespread inability to own property/wealth, which then could have been passed on to their children, children's children, etc.

Anybody who has ever received anything from a will can understand the injustice of how slavery prevented that from happening, and just like $100 invested 100 years ago would be worth so much more today, so would the wealth that slaves should have been able to pass on.

The open and shut case is that slaves were considered 3/5 of a human as far as representation in Congress was concerned, while they received no representation. Some smart people could place a dollar value on that, IMO.

I am responding to a "Shecky Fuller", who questioned me as to who wrote the racist graffiti at the Cingular Wireless cell site, and his indicating that my near 5-year lawsuit is frivolous. First of all, I was not the one that took the pictures of the racist "KILL THE NIGGERS" remark, as that was done by someone else that has a lawsuit against Cingular Wireless, and it was investigated by the Oak Brook police department. It really concerns me, and makes me wonder, as to how this "Shecky" could size up my lawsuit as frivolous, without his never attending any of the status hearings, or reading any of the affidavits or other documentation. The tone of your comment reeks of sarcasm, which could very well be a euphenism for racism. On one hand you talk of the corporate racism at Cingular Wireless, then you refer to my lawsuit as frivolous. If my lawsuit actually was frivolous, it certainly would not have survived 5 years. Shecky, if you could just be open minded enough to just weigh all the evidence, I am sure that you could come away with a different outlook and perspective. You might want to ask yourself as to why a national news magazine, such as RCR Wireless News, would expend so much time and attention on covering our story(s), if it indeed was frivolous. Then, again, what could you possibly know about the corporate culture at Cingular, if you never worked there? We have affidavits from former employees there, having been at the company more than 10 years, attesting to blacks on the Southside of Chicago being referred to as "Scum of the earth." We have statements from management questioning the value and merit of affirmative action in the SCENDIS Report, and the court(s) finding this document so sensitive that they put it under seal, for no one to view what more Cingular might have to say about blacks, women, Asians, Hispanics, gays & lesbians, and any others that might be considered minorities. Shecky, you might want to more fully weigh and investigate the facts, before you regard something frivolous. You might also want to read Jeff Silva's "Opinion" in the 9/26 RCR Wireless News, or, are you so close-minded and sure of your opinion, that you can not consider that of others'? Shecky, in regard to your comments about Renault Robinson and your adoration of George Bush, you seem to be a very cynical man, to say the least. It is peolpe like you that is tearing this country apart. May God help you!

This is why we continue to fight for equal rights and fair treatment. The laws have been established for us but the Federal Courts are anti Civil rights all the attorneys I have spoken to on this matter say the same thing. The Federal Courts are conservative and they hate Civil rights cases. What is the rule of law if the average citizen can't get to a jury of his peers to get justice where will we find help? the Courts and the Judges are the only remedy we have. So call your state Senators and tell them you want fair treatment in the Federal Courts. Force companies like Cingular/AT&T Wireless to stop discriminating and retaliating against their minority employees. Ask for the unredacted SCENDIS report we all need to see it.

A Cingular manager gave a black employee a 1.4% raise when the average was about 3%, the manager told the black employee if he told anyone about the raise he would "hang him"!!!!


If you don't experience it you can't say it does not exists. Racism is alive and real in America, but some of us choose to hide our heads in the sand and ignore it.

Hey Jill Henrie, are you a racist? or should I ask. Cingular employs a lot of managers that think like you it is in the SCENDIS report, you should get a copy you might like reading it.

Welfare is the reparations.
Welfare was specifically for blacks as stated by a Sumpreme Court Justice at the time.
Whites were also allowed to collect welfare as back then the law followed the dictates of the Founding Fathers that laws COULD NOT be directed only at specific people or groups unlike today where laws are routinely passed to support minorities ONLY

MITCHELL COMMENT:

This is simply nonsense.

Finger pointing racist blacks want money, more money that is, to keep whites constantly off balance.
White guilt is dying out haters and you will have driven away any sort of comradirer that would have existed because proud people, be they black or white, do not have respect for the people with their hands out and their jaws flapping.
By any means necessary will will not pay.

Funny part is the Deocratic party ran the southern states and kept slavery alive, its my opinion that if you keep voting democratic you shouldnt recieve reparations. The Republican party freed the slaves, and as the south became more republican treatment of african americans greatly improved. You have an admitted clan member in the Senate in Robert "Sheets" Byrd. You dont like your schools or crime in your neighborhood, but keep voting for liberals. 65 years of democratic rule on african americans has led to SUCH PROGRESS!

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Last time I went to the grocery store, I noticed white people using a Link card. Do you consider that reparations?

Very telling point Mary. Anything given to Blacks can't be considered a reparation if it is also given to whites.

I always thought that is what you were getting at. You don't want reparations that makes blacks equal or whole you want something free or extra, you want reparations that somehow move blacks a head of other minorities and especially a head of poor whites.

In your philosophy if all the opportunities in the world were provided to all disadvantaged people you would still want more because Blacks did not receive extra more something above and beyond every opportunity.

i am beginnig to think some of the people who post here that reparations would be just the beginning of an ongoing blackmail of the government by African Americans could be true.

"Funny part is the Deocratic party ran the southern states and kept slavery alive, its my opinion that if you keep voting democratic you shouldnt recieve reparations. The Republican party freed the slaves, and as the south became more republican treatment of african americans greatly improved."

That's ludicrous - you are confusing Dixiecrats with the current Democratic party.

You need (and a LOT of you need) to study American history, once JFK turned the Democratic party into the party that supported Civil Rights, the South slowly but surely went from a conservative Democratic voting block to a conservative Republican one.

To PL, you are absolutely right. If a check were given to blacks as a form of reparations, that would not be the end of it. Blacks would still demand more handouts.

Why is everyone so hostile towards the idea of reparations. The US government and all of the beneficiaries of slavery would be getting off really cheap, even if the sum would exceed a trillion dollars because, how can you really fully repay about 400 years of slavery followed by another 150 years of systematic inequality?

PC, no you need to study your history. The people at JP Morgan today had as much to do with the slavery ,as the Democratic party did pre Abraham Linclon (R-IL). Also you are wrong, LBJ passed the civil rights act of 64 and couldnt of without the GOP and said so. Keep making excuses for being on the white liberal plantation of politics. 90% of African Americans are on, there is no room for argument. 65 years of liberalism has done the african american community great, look at it. Gun bans work too, because only law abiding citizens turn in guns. The GOP took over and the south has become MUCH more tolerant since they took power from the DEMOCRATS, dixiecrats ran one elections and lost. So keep the lie alive and votes democratics!

We who have a concious and a sense of justice should stop giving our business to those company that did benifit from slavery and those who continue to discriminate against black people.

The below case was dismissed without reason by judge Norgle in violation of the basic rules of the court. The same Judge dismissed the reprations case, Americas legal system needs fixing. Let the people decide if it is discrimination based on the law and not the judges acting as gate keepers.


Does Cingular Deserve our Business?????

Saturday, March 20, 2004


By Freman Mentrell Beckless

The Chicago Defender


The answer is cloudy right now.
Just ask Christopher Graham, Carl Blackmon, Edward Wicks, Dennis Moore and Ramon Hayes.
All five men have either worked with or contracted with Cingular Wireless and all have pending case against the communications giant, alleging discrimination against blacks and other minorities.

The biggest case yet to be herd is that of Wicks, a former South Side businessman who said in his complaint that Cingular convinced him to close his business and become an exclusive agent with the Atlanta-based company. Wicks is suing for $600 million.

Wicks said he entered into a contract with Cingular on Jan 15, 1997 and remained with the company until Feb. 27, 2002, doing business as an authorized agent under the name Mercedes Wireless, Inc.

In his complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Wicks a Roberson High School graduate,
Said he sought to modify the contract, which would’ve allowed him to become a full-service agent where he could sell prepaid and postpaid wireless service. Wicks said Brian Lettrich a white manager at Cingular, refused to modify the contract and told Wicks that he will not do well as a full service agent in his neighborhood.

Wicks operated out of a location in the 200 block of east 69th Street, a neighborhood that hasn’t seen a white resident since the end of World War II.

During the Last quarter of 1997 Wicks said there was a great demand for postpaid wireless service. He sought to modify his contract to become a contract dealer. This time the Cingular he dealt with was Sal Moline, a Hispanic American.

Wicks said Moline granted him his wish and the ensuing deal benefited both Wicks and the community because postpaid contracted services were a much better deal than prepaid. He said his business skyrocketed in selling postpaid contract services. Wicks also said his increased sales also increased Cingular’s bottom line. But he wanted to expand to the point of becoming a “Sales and Service? Dealer.


Jim Moen, part of Cingular’s management team, and others recognized Wicks success at his location. Wicks said if a white dealer had enjoyed the same success, it would automatically qualify him to receive a “Sales and Service? contract.

Wicks complained that Moen, Lettrich, Laura Price, and Scott Nichole, all Cingular managers, commenced a concerted effort to put Wicks out of business. Wicks also said his customers were not properly serviced and Cingular withheld commissions. He alleges that Cingular intentionally erred when billing his customers, which caused customers to discontinue their service.

The bewildered dealer said when the customers reinstated, their accounts became corporate accounts and he was forced to pay back commissions after having lost the customer.

Wicks also alleged in his complaint that Price made racist comments towards him and adding insult to injury, he said Price called him a “Boy that did not know how to run his business? in front of her co-workers and to Wicks.

In Sept. 2002, according to Wicks’ complaint, Moen threatened him saying if Wicks goes over his (Moens’) head that would be the end of Wicks, relationship with Cingular. The complaint also alleges Nicholas called Wicks “ignorant? because Wicks stated that it is wrong for Cingular to hold his commissions and residuals and pay him as late as they wanted and at the same time complain he is past due on his equipment bill.

These actions according to Wicks prompted him to attend Cingular’s shareholders meeting in the summer of 2001 where he spoke with officials and explained the treatment he was receiving. At that time Wicks said he figured on getting things straightened with the company. What he hadn’t figured, was that he would start getting commission checks for just $1 per month.

Wicks said he was also told in order to stay in business he would have to sell cellular phones from the trunk of his car.

Sylvia Manrique, a spokeswoman for Cingular Wireless said Thursday: “It is Cingular’s policy not to comment on pending Litigation. Cingular Wireless values and includes all types of individuals, it is our goal to practice inclusion and celebrate diversity?.

The allegations are too numerous to mention in this space. But for his trouble Wicks will likely go before a mostly white Federal jury to award him $600 million he’s seeking. Will he get it?
That all depends on the Jury.

As it stands I don’t look forward to doing business with any company that operates in this manner. I hope every man or woman of color checks out the company, in spite of the bargains.

A word for word re-written copy of the original Story for record keeping only please check with the original Defender story for more accuracy.

maybe if black folks stop being victims and start using the voice we have maybe they will hear us.

Stop using the cell phones for a day, stop renewing your cellular contracts. Corprate America only start to pay attention when we take a stand we can't survive alone. We "have" been hoodwinked. look at some of the comments on this blog by whites, do I need to say more??????

There is another consideration that needs to be factored into this reparations debate, the residual effects of slavory and/or discrimination and racism.

Dr. Nancy Krieger, Ph.D., Harvard University, did a study (CARDIA) several years ago on the harmful effects of discrimination. In essence, she basically indicated that by suppressing discriminatory treatment it could have harmful effects on African-Americans. She also indicated that there was a correlation between racism and/or discrimination between low-term births of black babies. To fully understand the implications of Dr. Krieger's study I would suggest all interested parties to read her CARDIA Study published in JAMA. This ties directly into the reparations debate, as those being forcibly brought over here from Africa, including my ancesters, then having to go through so many instances and efforts to obtain some measure of justice after a so-called abolition of slavery, such as lobbying for equal employment laws, voting rights legislation, and this "separate but equal" notion, it is no wonder that many blacks still feel the remnants and residual effects of slavery. And, to compare our situation with that of jews, Asians, Latinos, Italians and others, is an insult and certainly not considering what blacks have had to go through.

I, for one, certainly would not want to just have something handed to me, but when you look at what we continually have to go through, but for the color of our skin, reparations is a gesture to make amends, to even the playing field, and/or acknowledge that a grave injustice had been perpetrated on an entire race. And for those that have stated that they were not a part of this injustice, stating that it may have been their forefathers, it continues in one form or fashion to this day, as indicated in the previously referenced "SCENDIS Report", commissioned by Cingular Wireless. Management at Cingular Wireless stated that "Affirmative Action Will Hurt The Company", among other things critical of making any allowance for prior treatment of myself and other similar situated blacks.

Sure, we can do all we can to "pull ourselves up by the bootstraps", then we find ourselves, after issuing more than $40 million in purchase orders to support Cingular's wireless network, being passed over for promotion to a white female with less experience and seniority, and also after assisting in the training of that white female, along with the training of the white female that ultimately makes the hiring decision. The residual effect of such discrimination, intolerance, and/or racism, is broken homes, unfulfilled aspirations for the children from those homes, and cynicism in the so-called American dream. You simply can not compare the plight of others that have immigrated to this country. And, speaking of immigration, I now find myself living in Tijuana, Mexico, attempting to raise my 13-year-old daughter, and provide for her a quality education. I get up at 4:00AM every morning to catch a Mexican bus, that takes me to the border, where I sometimes wait in a line a mile long, just to cross over into San Diego, so as to take my daughter to school. That is another one of the residual effects of discrimination and the aftermath of slavery. How could such a situation come about? Cingular Wireless making the conscious decision that the value of a black life and employment aspiration is less than that of whites. Sure, I am pursuing my claims from out here in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, there in Chicago, for which one of the contributors to this blog, "Schecky Fuller", refers to as frivolous, but there are reasons why I have chosen to fight Cingular Wireless and similar such mindsets, other than just proving a point or exercising some frivolous behavior. A lot of blacks currently, and formerly, at Cingular Wireless, are feeling the longterm effects of slavery and its resultant aftermath, employment discrimination and racism. I, at least, am trying to do the best for my daughter and fragmented family. Despite what Cingular Wireless and other similarly situated mindsets have perpetrated against us as a people, we still strive. I have some consolation, that despite the hardship of having to travel from Mexico everyday, my daughter has acheived two A's on her recent progress report in the San Diego Public school system. Hopefully, she will have a better life than I, and her forefathers.

Although I have already submitted this message, I am trying again with the assumption that you did not post me the first time it was submitted because it was overlooked. After all, how could this not be posted when "Truth" gets to have his garbage posted. What the hell is that guy talking about anyway?

If this does not get posted, then I can confidently state that you, Ms. Mitchell, are not a serious journalist; just a closet racist whose only agenda is the African cause.

Mitchell Comment - "Regardless of whether you like it or not, I get to be the judge of what's considered a "valid point."

With all due respect Ms. Mitchell, unless you are actually a Judge overseeing a legal issue presented in a court of law, the only thing you GET to be is opinionated. Validity does not begin and end on Ms. Mitchell's columns' doorstep. YOU DO NOT get to be the judge of what's considered a "valid point."

Jefferory R. Comment - "Compare his situation to Luis Guitierez, whose constituents are mainly Hispanics and many of them law breakers."

Mr. R., this statement speaks volumes to the often-overlooked issue of race and cultural relations in this country. Essentially what you have stated is that through your sense of logic, if you are Hispanic, than you more often than not are a lawbreaker. Of course I am assuming your reference is to the on-going illegal immigration battle being waged against Latinos in this country. No doubt, you like many others who have posted on this blog concerning African American rights, are in the opinion that illegal immigration is centrally Hispanic and if not controlled would lead to more disasters like September 11, 2001. Of course arguments would be raised to state that illegal immigrants are a threat to National Security, they are threat to the earning potential and job security of Natural citizens. Well although it has never been stated, please remember that the 19 men responsible as well the 1 man caught prior to September 11, flew into this country on student and work visas. They did not cross the Rio Grand. The Oklahoma bombing was committed by a Natural Citizen of this country; born and raised in your land, your country. Columbine & the Amish massacre - all lawbreakers, all legal immigrants. But of course building a wall along the Rio Grand will protect our country from those illegal immigrant terrorists who are stealing our jobs. Sounds as silly out loud as it felt to write it.

You see the issue of Immigration is tied to the Reparations issue, whether Ms. Mitchell considers it to be a valid point or not. Many may feel that this country was built on the backs of West African natives who were stolen from their country and shipped here to suffer the fate of slavery. This occurred AFTER the colonial conquistadors ravaged the already inhabited islands of the Caribbean Sea, which were abundant in natural resources; The two most valuable being gold and free labor by means of enslavement of the Native Caribbean and American inhabitants of the New World. My ancestors were the first slaves of the New World. The story is the same horrible narrative; men were killed, women were raped, a culture was systematically stripped from its’ origin to be replaced by the Conquers’ will. Pre-Columbian era in the Western Hemisphere saw great nations such as the Tolemec, Aztec, Incan civilizations. All destroyed for ‘world progress’. This country was stolen from the Native Americans who lived here. Native Americans were given strips of land to live as they used too. Problem was, the land they received could not be cultivated, could not be lived on. The ‘West’ was stolen from the Mexican government. Mexican landowners no longer owned the land they tilled. Instead, they instantly became illegal immigrants on their own land. Yea sure, treaties were signed, but who can argue with a straight face that these treaties weren’t merely ‘offers that could not be refused?’ Between the 1930’s and the 1970’s approximately one-third of Puerto Rico's female population of childbearing age had undergone a massive sterilization, the highest rate in the world. Representatives of this country, both black and white, approved of this attack otherwise known as genocide on my people.

A reparations case can be made for all the issues I’ve listed:

The Puerto Rican women sterilized should be given reparations because their biological right to reproduce was stripped from them by our Government. This was a genocidal attack on my people. It was an attempt to remove us from the world. A holocaust in it’s own right.

New Mexico, Texas, and California should be given back to the Mexican People as reparations for stolen land. Since we can’t give states back to Mexico, the gold mined there should be returned as reparation. Who can honestly say, should Mexico have remained the rightful owners of these territories, their economic future would be quite different than what it is today. Would illegal immigration be such a concern if Mexico were economically sound?

How do we repair the Native American issue? That is the real question. That is the most important question.

Ms. Mitchell and others, whether you like it or not, this country was built by all nations and on the backs of all nations. It was stolen, stripped and renamed. Before asking for reparations of the wallet, WE SHOULD ALL BEGIN BY ASKING FOR REPARATIONS OF THE SOUL. Our lack of understanding is the true threat to National Security.

RC- Going back to the comments you made regarding my last post I am wondering if you fully comprehend the reaches of slavery. It was very much alive and well in the Northern states. So any immigrants that went north benefited as well.Slavery was found in New York, which was first known as New Netherland, Virginia, Rhode Island and Boston. And in fact New York had the highest population of slaves north of Maryland. Of course it paled in comparison to the south that flourished because of slavery oweing to a good climate and economy. Slavery did however also work against immigrants in so far as why would someone or a company hire a white immigrant that they would have to pay when it was perfectly legal to get a slave to do the work. This is really just one of the many reasons the Civil war was fought. I know this post was supposed to be about reparations but that was not my reason for posting, so please don't think my agenda is to try and justify why reparations are warranted. I was simply responding to your post about being confused on the connection between America's racist policies and how white immigrants benefited.
I would also like to present and excerpt from author Tim Wise entitled "Denial, Privilege and Life as a Majority" because his words a a little more eloquent than my own.

Published as a ZNet Commentary, 1/06/05

Sometimes it can be difficult, having a conversation with those whose political views are so diametrically opposed to one's own.

But even more challenging, is having a discussion with someone who simply refuses to accept even the most basic elements of your worldview. At that point, disagreement is less about the specifics of one or another policy option, and more about the nature of social reality itself.

This is what it can be like sometimes, when trying to discuss the issue of white privilege with white people. Despite being an obvious institutionalized phenomenon to people of color and even some whites, white privilege is typically denied, and strongly, by most of us.

Usually, this denial plays out in one of two ways: either we seek to shift the focus of discussion to our status as members of some other group that isn't socially dominant (so, for example, whites who are poor or working class will insist that because of their economic marginalization, they effectively enjoy no racial privilege at all), or we retreat to the tired but popular notion that all have an equal opportunity in this, our colorblind meritocracy.

Denying one's privileges is, of course, nothing if not logical. To admit that you receive such things is to acknowledge that you are, at some level, implicated in the process by which others are oppressed or discriminated against. It makes fairly moot the oft-heard defense that "I wasn't around back then, and I never owned slaves, or killed any Indians," or whatever.
If one has reaped the benefits of those past injustices (to say nothing of ongoing discrimination in the present) by being elevated, politically, economically and socially above persons of color, for example -- which whites as a group surely have been thanks to enslavement, Indian genocide and Jim Crow -- then whether or not one did the deed becomes largely a matter of irrelevance.
Of course, what is ultimately overlooked is that denial of one's privilege itself manifests a form of privilege: namely, the privilege of being able to deny another person's reality (a reality to which they speak regularly) and suffer no social consequence as a result.
Whites pay no price, in other words, for dismissing the claims of racism so regularly launched by persons of color, seeing as how the latter have no power to punish such disbelievers at the polls, or in the office suites, or in the schools in most cases.
White reality is privileged at every turn, so that if whites say something is a problem, it is, and if whites insist it isn't, then it isn't.

Those of us who are white remain thought of as sober-minded, and never as given to underestimating the extent of racism, making a molehill out of what is, in fact, often a mountain, or playing our own race card (the denial card), which far and away trumps whatever version people of color may occasionally find in their own decks.

In other words, privilege is not merely about money and wealth. It is not merely something that attaches when one is born with the proverbial silver spoon in one's mouth. Rather it is the daily psychological advantage of knowing that one's perceptions of the world are the ones that stick, that define the norm for everyone else, and that are taken seriously in the mainstream.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Mitchell published on October 3, 2006 10:58 AM.

Slavery was the black Holocaust, so treat it with the same respect was the previous entry in this blog.

Illinois forms Transatlantic Slave Trade Commission is the next entry in this blog.

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