Reparations Plus Interest: A Not Mad. Motivated. Point of View

February 2020 - Reparations Plus Interest

I starting working on my credit in college. I was approved for a loan to purchase a house and I thought that my work paid off. When I bought my house 13 years ago, my excitement was sky high. That was before I realized how much interest I was expected to pay. That realization that definitely diminished the moment some.

I still live in the house that I “bought” in 2007. After a few years of financial instability (mostly due to a toxic relationship), I pretty much owe the same amount. This shocking reality is where my thoughts went after hearing about talks on Reparations for Slavery. My conclusion. . . let’s start talking about Reparations plus interest.

What is Reparation?

Reparation: the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Our history has many examples in which amends were attempted through reparations. The German government continues to pay reparations to Holocaust survivors and to the State of Israel. The United Kingdom paid over $25 million to over 5,000 Kenyan who suffered torture and abuse during the Mau Mau uprising “at the hands of the colonial administration” in the 1950s.

A Selection of U.S. Reparations

The U.S. did provided “reparations” to Native Americans as payment for seized land.

However, the actual funds only averaged out to about $1,000 per person of Native American ancestry, and most of the money was put in trust accounts held by the United States government, which has been accused of mismanagement over the years.

Native American Reparations: Belated Payment for Unjustly Seized Land
The Thorny History of Reparations in the United States

When the U.S. government overthrew the Kingdom of Hawai’i, Native Hawaiians where forced to live in crowded cities. Many Natives died from foreign diseases. As “reparations” for the land, people of at least one-half Hawaiian ancestry by blood could lease homesteads from the federal government for 99 years at a time for a total of $1.

Much of the land was remote and unfit for development, and it put people who married non-Native Hawaiians at risk of losing their land. Today, those problems persist.

Native Hawaiian Reparations: Land Leases for the Overthrow of a Kingdom
The Thorny History of Reparations in the United States

After a lawsuit for being left untreated for syphilis while in a “treatment program”, victims of Tuskegee Experiment were awarded $10 million, healthcare and burial services. The state eventually awarded healthcare and other services to the men’s spouses and descendants, too.

Decades later, the experiment is correlated with increases in mistrust of the medical establishment, overall mortality and reluctance to see medical providers among black men, who face significant health disparities compared to their white counterparts in the United States.

Tuskegee Experiment Reparations: Compensation for Medical Brutality
The Thorny History of Reparations in the United States

Reparations Plus Interest: A Not Mad. Motivated. Point of View

When we think about reparations for the U.S. enslavement of (descendants of) Africans, many of us will think of “40 acres and a mule”.

By June [1865], roughly 40,000 Blacks had settled on four hundred thousand acres of land before Confederate landowners, aided by the new Johnson administration, started taking back “their” land.

An Historical Timeline of Reparations Payments Made From 1866 through 2019 by the United States Government, States, Cities, and Universities
Reparations Payments Made in the United States by the Federal Government, States, Cities, Religious Institutions, and Colleges and Universities

Wide-spread land ownership for newly “freed” Blacks could had been a game-changer! These were incredibly skilled people. They were blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, weavers, cooks, caregivers, and more. Within this population was every talent needed to build up successful communities. Although such communities did emerge, it was at a much smaller scale than true reparations would have allowed.

Enslavement was devastating enough, but compounding it with systemic racism was and continues to be cruel. And that’s the reason for saying when we talk about reparations for slavery, we should be talking reparations plus interest! Land is great – I would love not to spend another $80-100K in interest for a house that is barely worth that amount. However, the very minimum should include free education and unlimited medical care of choice for the generational stress.

Do you think Reparations plus interest is a fair concept? If so, support Not Mad. Motivated. and let’s get the word out together.

We now have Reparations plus interest shirts and totes available!

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