Black Reparations have been part of the African-American dialogue from the very beginning. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, reparations are the redress of an injury ; amends for a wrong inflicted.
The wrong in question usually refers to slavery, but there are 9 specific reasons why Black reparations are due today that have nothing to do with slavery. But before we explore the case for Black reparations, we must understand the nature and precedents associated with redressing injuries done to Africans in America.
How Black Reparations Were Awarded In The Past
At the dawn of the United States, Black reparations were actively considered and often awarded.
Abolitionist Quakers in New York, New England, and Baltimore went so far as to make “membership contingent upon compensating one’s former slaves.” In 1782, the Quaker Robert Pleasants emancipated his 78 slaves, granted them 350 acres, and later built a school on their property and provided for their education. “The doing of this justice to the injured Africans,” wrote Pleasants, “would be an acceptable offering to him who ‘Rules in the kingdom of men.’ ” (Source)
Some white abolitionists wanted to do away with slavery, but did not want to integrate Blacks into white society. The solution they derived was the ‘Back To Africa’ movement and thus the Republic of Liberia was established in 1822 with a promise of 25 acres of free land for each immigrant family and 10 acres for a single adult who came to the Black Republic.
And according to the Constitutional Rights Foundation, “Before the Civil War ended, General William Tecumseh Sherman issued an order in South Carolina. He wanted 40 acres and the loan of an Army mule set aside for each former slave family.”
The Case For Black Reparations Today
Many Africans in America use General Sherman’s nullified argument to assert that slavery reparations are due. Unfortunately, since his wartime declaration was overturned the argument for our ’40 acres and a mule’ is invalid.
Others use the Geneva Convention to argue for Black reparations. Specifically, Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions contains minimum humanitarian standards that are to be respected ‘at any time and in any place whatsoever’. Specifically, Common Article 3 confirms the following prohibitions: a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment; b) taking of hostages; c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; and d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
But the Geneva Convention only applies to military personnel or civilians in a theater of war. And so arguments in support of reparations that cite the Geneva Convention are also generally misplaced (although it could be argued that slaves were subjected to the above conditions during the American Civil War).
Although we are not entitled ’40 acres and a mule’ and the Geneva Convention only applies to military personnel or civilians in a theater of war, there are still international guidelines that warrant Black reparations today.
According to the United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, all violations of human rights and international humanitarian law entail legal consequences.
“[I]t is understood that the present Principles and Guidelines are without prejudice to the right to a remedy and reparation for victims of all violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law”.
What Constitutes A Victim and ‘Gross Violations of International Human Rights’?
Any group of people who are subjected to systematic and gross human rights abuses are considered victims eligible for reparations. Specifically, a United Nations study concluded that: while under international law the violation of any human right gives rise to a right to reparation for the victim, particular attention is paid to gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms which include at least the following: genocide; slavery and slavery-like practices; summary or arbitrary executions; torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; enforced disappearance; arbitrary and prolonged detention; deportation or forcible transfer of population; and systematic discrimination, in particular based on race or gender. (Source)
While Africans in America remain eligible for slavery reparations (there is no statute of limitations on the crime of slavery), based on the above interpretation, here are 7 reasons why Black reparations are due that have nothing to do with slavery.
Click the tab below to see the next reason!