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Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS 
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 Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS


Please use this thread to discuss the above referenced chapter.



Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:30 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
This is a compelling piece. The history of racism in America is very ugly and it is systemic.



Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:15 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
This piece is likely the best one in the book. It is a question (reparations) which should be taken seriously.



Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:02 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
I have trouble putting this book down. The author is speaking to my heart. I am not about to go out and call for reparations, but I have always believed in trying to repair the damage I have done, and I think it would do white America a lot of good to take up that task. Sadly, they (we) are unlikely to have the courage.



Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:47 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
What damage have you done, Mr. Marks?
The discussion of reparations is compelling for two reasons: First, Coates discusses the Holocaust and the reparations that were given to Israel by Germany....my immediate thought upon reading this section was, "Sure but the Holocaust was far worse than the entire history of the treatment of blacks in America." I stand by that reflection, but upon further consideration I had to admit that the treatment of blacks in America is an appalling injustice. The other compelling part of the piece is the discussion of redlining.
The effort in the piece to extend responsibility to every white person (which plays throughout the book with often repeated phrases such as "white privilege" and the like) fall rather flat. I do not feel responsible for what happened to blacks in America. That having been said, it is wrong and we should not simply gloss it as if it were nothing. More than anything else, as Americans we should be interested in cultivating the sense that all Americans are American regardless of race, religion, etc. If some form of reparation would be useful to this end, I would not oppose it.



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Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:44 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
TEKennelly wrote:
What damage have you done, Mr. Marks?
I was referring to damage I personally do in my life. I damaged someone else's car once, so I paid for the repair. I spoke out of turn once and really hurt someone, and the best I could do was apologize and try to make it up to them with words of praise. When I cause harm, I think it is not only right to make reparations but good for me as well.
TEKennelly wrote:
upon further consideration I had to admit that the treatment of blacks in America is an appalling injustice. The other compelling part of the piece is the discussion of redlining.
If there were no ongoing injustice, I think it might be wisest to settle for sweeping the problem under the rug. After all, we don't contemplate giving back their land to Native Americans, and even the kinds of small reparations made by Canada and Australia can hardly make up for the massive injustice done to their original peoples. If we ever get to the point where we are honestly trying to undo some of the damage, I am sure we can find more appropriate measures than reverting wide areas to hunter-gatherer mode.

It was a different age, an age when almost all leaders thought about things about the way Trump does. Violence was a necessity. Injustice was the main mode of gaining wealth and power. But that way of looking at things dies hard. To pound a stake through its heart, reparations are worth considering.
TEKennelly wrote:
The effort in the piece to extend responsibility to every white person (which plays throughout the book with often repeated phrases such as "white privilege" and the like) fall rather flat.
At some point you have to recognize that a system designed to benefit your group, at somebody else's expense, implicates you in the system. I don't think Coates tries to extend responsibility to every white person (in places he recognizes the efforts of some white people to overcome racism, for example). White privilege is another subject, on which in a moment. But he certainly sees, with eyes that white people can afford not to, that the beneficiaries of "affirmative action for whites" over centuries have every incentive not to question the system or change it. Nor to accept others questioning it or changing it. Nor to accept the rage of those despoiled.

White privilege is the privileged position of white people in that they can pretend that race is not a factor. When white is "normal" and "we" are white, then surely whiteness conveys no benefit, right? Except it did, and it does. Race is invisible when white people look at other white people in everyday life. Race is not invisible when white people look at people of different skin color. How many people honestly don't notice the race of a black or Latino sports star or movie star? Why does Ben Carson or Clarence Thomas get any recognition or status at all?

TEKennelly wrote:
I do not feel responsible for what happened to blacks in America.
Nor do I.
TEKennelly wrote:
That having been said, it is wrong and we should not simply gloss it as if it were nothing.
More than anything else, as Americans we should be interested in cultivating the sense that all Americans are American regardless of race, religion, etc. If some form of reparation would be useful to this end, I would not oppose it.
I like the way Lindsey Graham put it this week, that America is about an ideal (of democracy, and so, of opportunity and mutual acceptance) not about a race. The challenge is to make that the truth, not just an aspirational statement.



Last edited by Harry Marks on Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
I'm a minority and an immigrant so I'm going to use my get out of jail free card when it comes to reparations.


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Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:10 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
Litwitlou wrote:
I'm a minority and an immigrant so I'm going to use my get out of jail free card when it comes to reparations.
:lol:
Okay by me. I might try my "no ancestors from the South" status, but I doubt if that would get me much of a tax break.



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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
Just ran into an interesting discussion on restorative justice that might be relevant here. The idea that has emerged in restorative justice practice is to give the victim the space to explain the harm that was done to them, and to say what justice might help them to put themselves back together.

I can't help but think such listening would make a big difference even if not a penny of reparations was ever paid.



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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
Re-reading the essay, I noticed something I missed the first time through. Coates' argument draws on a point Zinn made (and probably wasn't the first). One reason slavery was foundational to America was its importance to the American economy. Hard to deny that, but on the other hand, every economy rests on many pillars, and white America would have been less prosperous but still pretty well off without the Southern plantation economy. So that point keeps leaving me nettled. But the point I just noticed was this: America's working class did not need to be violently repressed in the way Europe's did.

Zinn and Coates both express it as American liberty and democracy being built on slavery. The logic is that white workers could be given the vote without fear that they would overthrow a domination system, because the real peonage labor, the people whose oppression was very clear, were African-American slaves.

I think there is something to that, actually. Especially in the South, where needing to hold down a huge lot of white peasants (plantation agriculture is pretty much always a system of exploitation) would have created a very different dynamic between lords and serfs, the ability to give votes to white masses (but not always, as Coates notes, majorities) may really have rested on the system of slavery.



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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
.
.
What the south termed "our peculiar institution" wasn't the least bit peculiar. Prior to the 19th century there were slaves all over the place. The Greek democracy in Athens had tens of thousands of slaves. Columbus enslaved Native Americans. Throughout history slaves have come in all races and colors. What were Russian serfs if not slaves?
True, African-Americans suffer greatly from discrimination to this day but let's take it easy on the reparations thing; they are far from alone. Our loose cannon in the Oval Office still feels comfortable with overt racism against whole nations. Not to mention the American judge who would not have been able to view a suit against Trump fairly because the judge is of Mexican descent. And let's keep it real: If there comes a time when awarding government money to African-Americans as reparations for slavery seems likely, who doubts this will cause anything other than greater division and racism? While some African-Americans may well deserve reparations, the discussion is academic, the point may as well be moot.


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Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:02 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
Litwitlou wrote:
And let's keep it real: If there comes a time when awarding government money to African-Americans as reparations for slavery seems likely, who doubts this will cause anything other than greater division and racism? While some African-Americans may well deserve reparations, the discussion is academic, the point may as well be moot.
Yes, that is what I meant when I said I would not be proposing reparations any time soon. I do think it has been part of a healthy self-evaluation for Australia and Canada, a coming to terms with the fact that wrongs were done. So it would probably be a good idea, but the country is definitely not ready for it.

The thought keeps gnawing at me that slavery was part of the general way of doing things then. Since I would like to see a general repudiation of domination systems, whether empire or patriarchy or police impunity or Ferguson-style rip-offs of the poor, I find myself wondering if there is a way to put the issue in that context.

I mean, this may sound odd but I think Dr. King and the feminists did American culture a whole lot of good by dragging us out of a mindset in which privilege was taken for granted and assumed to be natural and eternal. Okay, the answer was blowing in the wind, but somebody had to say, "Stop now!". And then the ideals of democracy began to become reality.



Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:58 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
Litwitlou wrote:
.
.
What the south termed "our peculiar institution" wasn't the least bit peculiar. Prior to the 19th century there were slaves all over the place. The Greek democracy in Athens had tens of thousands of slaves. Columbus enslaved Native Americans. Throughout history slaves have come in all races and colors. What were Russian serfs if not slaves?

Curious about the origin of "the peculiar institution," I looked on Wikipedia. The phrase became a popular Southern euphemism for slavery mid-century. "Peculiar" was used in the sense of "distinctive, fitted to," rather than strange or odd. John C. Calhoun's contention was that slavery had become naturally integral to the culture, geography, and economy of the South.
Quote:
True, African-Americans suffer greatly from discrimination to this day but let's take it easy on the reparations thing; they are far from alone. Our loose cannon in the Oval Office still feels comfortable with overt racism against whole nations. Not to mention the American judge who would not have been able to view a suit against Trump fairly because the judge is of Mexican descent. And let's keep it real: If there comes a time when awarding government money to African-Americans as reparations for slavery seems likely, who doubts this will cause anything other than greater division and racism? While some African-Americans may well deserve reparations, the discussion is academic, the point may as well be moot.

For me, it's the how of general reparations that most gets in the way of envisioning it happening. When I look at a particular instance, though, such as the controversy at Georgetown University, I become a little morally perplexed. The NY Times and other papers recently reported on the 1838 sale of 272 slaves by the Jesuit leadership of the struggling college (the Church as slaver, hard to believe). The sale was instrumental in saving the college, and of course today it is richly endowed. What to do, if anything, for the descendents of the slaves who suffered under the lash in the deep South and whose families were torn apart? Even some alumni who were not previously activist about anything believe the university is obligated to make some form of reparations.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/us/g ... dants.html



Last edited by DWill on Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:13 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
DWill wrote:
For me, it's the how of general reparations that most gets in the way of envisioning it happening. When I look at a particular instance, though, such as the controversy at Georgetown University, I become a little morally perplexed. The NY Times and other papers recently reported on the 1838 sale of 272 slaves by the Jesuit leadership of the struggling college (the Church as slaver, hard to believe). The sale was instrumental in saving the college, and of course today it is richly endowed. What to do, if anything, for the descendents of the slaves who suffered under the lash in the deep South and whose families were torn apart? Even some alumni who were not previously activist about anything believe the university is obligated to make some form of reparations.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/us/g ... dants.html


Where is the controversy about this "particular instance" at Georgetown University? From the piece in the NY Times it seems everyone involved is interested in finding the descendants of the 272 slaves and making "some form of reparations." This is all well and good but let's bear in mind that this endeavor is undertaken by a private, and rather enlightened, institute of higher learning. Also, addressing the injustice done to 272 slaves is one thing, but finding the descendants of the 3,950,528 slaves listed in the census of 1860 is something else. And I can't think of anything that can be done for the untold number of slaves shipped to America who died with no family.

The census of 1860 shows 393,975 people or 8% of families owned slaves. Should their descendants be singled out when it comes to reparations? Why not? Because this would be too expensive and difficult? Or because it is unfair to burden the sons with the sins of the fathers? What of the approx. 620,000 Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. Should their descendants pay anything?

We have a tiger by the tail when it comes to reparations. I hope someone has a plan for its teeth.


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Post Re: Ch. 6: NOTES FROM THE SIXTH YEAR - THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS
Quote:
Where is the controversy about this "particular instance" at Georgetown University? From the piece in the NY Times it seems everyone involved is interested in finding the descendants of the 272 slaves and making "some form of reparations."

Well, you're probably right that 'controversy' is the wrong word to summarize what's being discussed at Georgetown, although you'll see that that there is some controversy regarding the particulars of how the university has gone about the project and what the how it proposes to make amends.
Quote:
This is all well and good but let's bear in mind that this endeavor is undertaken by a private, and rather enlightened, institute of higher learning. Also, addressing the injustice done to 272 slaves is one thing, but finding the descendants of the 3,950,528 slaves listed in the census of 1860 is something else. And I can't think of anything that can be done for the untold number of slaves shipped to America who died with no family.

Even for 272, the task is huge, both in finding these descendents and providing financial compensation, even if it is in-kind, such as scholarships. I haven't yet obtained Coates' book, so I don't know his own outlook on what reparations need to look like.
Quote:
What of the approx. 620,000 Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. Should their descendants pay anything?

We have a tiger by the tail when it comes to reparations. I hope someone has a plan for its teeth.

I have nothing of value to add to the thread's topic, but I thought you might be interested in the newer estimates of CW deaths--up to 750,000 vs. the previously accepted estimate of 620,000, which was Union and Confederate combined.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/scien ... imate.html



Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:23 am
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