Monday, November 01, 2004

You Owe Me!

I don’t know how many of you saw the episode of 60 Minutes with Ed Bradley exploring new evidence in the Emmett Till case. But to sum up the major highlight, it looks like they are finally going to reopen Till’s case and prosecute the five offenders who remain alive today. Click here if you need some background on the story of Emmett Till.

I couldn’t be happier about the fact that there may finally be some justice in this case (no matter how long overdue). It’s a shame that Emmett Till’s mother isn’t alive to witness the day she fought so hard for.

But, the case brings me back to a point that keeps popping up in my mind…the case for African American reparations. When I think about reparations (and no, I haven’t studied the arguments in detail—I’m speaking because I’m Black and I can), I think about money being paid to me and the rest of my African American sisters and brothers for the time our ancestors suffered through slavery. I think about the whole 40 acres and a mule promise that was never kept.

But the truth is…I don’t want money. Not a thin dime of it. That, to me, would be a cop out. There is no price you can pay that erases the deeds of slavery. And there is no price you can pay that somehow lessens its effects. The damage is done, and it will take a miracle from God to undo all the evils of slavery and diminish its lasting effects.

You can’t go rummaging through the Atlantic Ocean, pluck out the tens of millions of African bodies lost during the middle passage and plop down money for proper burials. You can’t pay to reunite the families that were torn apart, and you cannot buy me a plaque with my true African name inscribed on it.

There is no way to un-rape the millions of women who unwillingly submitted to their masters’ passions. There is no way to erase the hurt endured by those countless husbands who had to sit by and watch.

You can’t bring back the culture that was lost. You can’t return us to a homeland that no longer looks familiar. Bottom line is, money ain’t gonna cut it. It’s just not an acceptable solution—certainly not as an only solution.

But what I would accept is a historical acknowledgement of the full extent of the crimes. That acknowledgement should be followed by a sincere apology that somehow etches itself in the most permanent places of American history.

I want the U.S. government to acknowledge the fact that there are numerous cases like Emmett Till’s that we don’t know about—both during and after slavery. I want them to admit how many people were killed in places like Rosewood, Florida and Tulsa, Oklahoma when those mobs of crazy White men picked off as many African Americans as they could before destroying their property and stealing their land.

I want them to admit how much they allow today’s cops to racially profile. I want them to admit that the law that places harsher penalties on crack cocaine dealers than it does on powder cocaine dealers is simply a plot to lock up more African American men.

And it would be nice if they got rid of the language in the constitution that categorized African Americans as three-fifths human. I could go on…

The bottom line is…reparations, for me, starts with a fess up. Forget the money. I want the truth. It’s not as if I expect to hear anything I didn’t already know or suspect. But I want to hear the government to admit the fact that what happened was wrong and should never be tolerated again.

The case against the murderers of Emmett Till is a long time coming. But there are so many other cases that will never get their time in court. No one will ever have to admit wrong doing. And that fact is what keeps the wounds of slavery open with puss still oozing out after more than 100 years.

As long as we have a society that hides behind lies—perpetrating a worldwide fraud that it is the leader of justice and freedom—then there is no amount of reparations worth considering.

I don’t want my history dismissed with a check. A check will only lead me to more bad credit anyway.

What I want is the truth. Sad thing is…I’ll probably never live long enough to hear it.

So, tell me what you think. Is there a case for reparations? If so, in what form should reparations come? Is it a dead issue that needs to go away? Or is it an issue that ALL Americans should never let die? This inquiring mind wants to know…so holla at me!


At 5:17 PM, Blogger Ignatious said...

yowza, what a post. i sure am glad i brought up that 60 minutes episode to you. :)

anyway, i am so NOT touching this topic. i'm just psyched that you are writing here again.

you rule.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger JustMe said...

Iggy, my baby! What-up, doll? Yeah, thanks for hipping me to the 60 minutes info. This case has always haunted me because it was just so awful, and the before and after visuals were so profound. No, doll, it's you who rules! You're like my walking, talking encyclopedia, and I love you for all the info you share! Peace.

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