Looking Out: Reparations for injustice

Issue 

Reparations for injustice

By Brandon Astor Jones

"Victim status is more coveted in modern America than wealth or power. Jews over the Holocaust. Blacks still float 'restitution for slavery' schemes. Women claim to need affirmative action." — Mona Charen

The words above were written by a woman. Strange sentiments, indeed. United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who calls himself an African American, will vote against the interest of people of colour every chance he gets.

Blacks in the US have Thomas. Women have Charen. As a syndicated newspaper columnist, Charen generally opposes anything that would make the lives of women better.

Have you ever wondered why it is that some women have such a hate for almost all other women? I have. Surely it must be born of the same kind of diabolical energy that causes some African-American men to hate and demonise almost all African-Americans.

These attitudes are prevalent not only in the US but all over the world. Where and when the game-plan is to deny women and people of colour socioeconomic equality, we can depend on the world's most rabid racists and sexists to invite the likes of Charen, Thomas and others to speak.

It goes without saying that the Charens and Thomases of this world, in their usual quid pro quo fashion, enjoy lives of relative ease for having sold themselves into the insidious service of ignorant and selfish people.

World history routinely proves that women have, for the most part, been underpaid — when and if they were paid at all — past and present. At some point in the future, perhaps women will bring reparations lawsuits against those sexist governments that devalue and take for granted women's vocational worth. When and if that happens, we can be fairly certain that Mona Charen will be in opposition.

An organisation has recently been formed called the Africa World Reparations and Repatriation Truth Commission (ACCRA). The commission's lawyers argue "that Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean grew rich off the slave trade, while Africa shrivelled economically. Development was further hampered by colonization" (Towards Freedom, November 1999). It has issued a long-overdue demand for US$750 trillion to western Europe and the Americas. It also demands the erasure of all Africa's debts.

The sum has been called excessive, even outrageous, by many racists. In reality, it is but a pittance when it is objectively considered as reparation for having enslaved Africans, not to mention for colonisation.

Colonisation is a subtle and nefarious form of slavery. It robs a people of their right to self-determination in that their past, present and future rests in the self-righteous hands of the colonisers.

A British House of Lords member, Anthony Gifford, has suggested that pursuing reparations may not be unreasonable. After all, Germany and Japan paid Jews and Koreans reparations for genocide during World War II. Gifford also reminds us that the slave trade was the "most wicked criminal enterprise in recorded history".

Once a finding of guilt has been reached, the legal pursuit of reparations can be handled the same way that the Nuremberg trials were. If the litigation is successful, history's enslaved Africans — and all of their descendants, the world over — would share the settlement. I should note, too, that I fully expect to soon pick up a newspaper or magazine and therein find that Clarence (yes suh, boss) Thomas is opposed to reparations.

[The writer is a prisoner on death row in the United States. He welcomes letters commenting on his columns (include your name and full return address on the envelope, or prison authorities may refuse to deliver it). He can be written to at: Brandon Astor Jones, EF-122216, G3-63, Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison, PO Box 3877, Jackson, GA 30233, USA, or e-mail <BrandonAstorJones@hotmail.com>.]