Sunday, March 15, 2009

World Conference on Racism, Slavery Reparations and Obama

Berlin - Germany may boycott a UN conference on racism, over concerns that a preparatory document is singularly critical of Israel, daily Berliner Zeitung reported Saturday. At the same time, a German organisation promoting ties with the Jewish state...

File this under, Can't we just get along! There seems to be a lot of commentary on the planned World Conference on racism.

Get this, first the US withdraws from 2nd World Conference against Racism, now word is, Germany may boycott UN racism talks critical of Israel. The Folks at Monsters and Critics are reporting on how Germany may boycott a UN conference on racism, over concerns that a preparatory document is singularly critical of Israel, daily Berliner Zeitung reported Saturday. As reported by the The NY TImes, The United States will not attend the second World Conference Against Racism in Geneva unless the conference’s main document improves, according to a State Department official, though the Obama administration sent a delegation to preparatory talks in Geneva.

The NY TImes, reports the long, unwieldy document seeks to ban criticism of religion, calls for slave reparations and attacks Israel as racist. Israel and some American Jewish groups urged a boycott of the April conference, and several close American allies, including Canada, said they would not go. The United States walked out of the first Conference Against Racism, in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, as a protest against an effort to compare Zionism to racism. More HERE

At the same time, reports Monsters and Critics a German organization promoting ties with the Jewish state is appealing for Germans to moderate their criticism of Israel's role in the Middle-East conflict.

'Germany should not yield to a UN conference that wants to accuse Israel unilaterally,' German Human Rights commissioner Guenther Nooke said of the anti-racism talks, due to take place late April in Geneva.

'We should initially try everything to change the text of the final document,' Nooke told the newspaper. 'But there will be no participation at all cost,' he added.

Several countries have criticised the fact the preparatory document specifically accuses Israel over its occupation of Palestinian territories.

Other misdeeds, such as the atrocities committed in the Darfur conflict, are not specifically named.

Meanwhile, the President of the German-Israeli Society Johannes Gerster has appealed for Germans to show greater solidarity towards Israel, in the face of the continuing Mid-East crisis. More HERE

AAPP says: I guess the Obama administration will have to decide whether it's stands against color aroused bigotry and racism or will it stand with Israel, Canada and Italy who have announced they will boycott the forum in Geneva.

The first conference, held in Durban in 2001, ended up with the US and Israel walking out, upset over statements of some delegates.

Maybe, just maybe, William Reed is right, when he wrote in EUR web recently, "Reparations for slavery is a proposal that some type of compensation be provided to descendants of enslaved people in consideration of the labor provided for free over several centuries, which has been a substantive and influential factor in the nation's development. The prospect of payment is not new." William Reed goes on to say:

In 1865, General William Tecumseh Sherman issued Special Field Orders, No. 15 granting each freed family forty acres of tillable land in the Georgia Sea Islands and around Charleston, South Carolina for the exclusive use of black people who had been enslaved. The army gave mules to settlers. President Andrew Johnson reversed the order after Lincoln was assassinated and the land was returned to its previous owners.

Black slaves built America for free, including the nation's Capitol and the White House. It's important that the nation's 44th President do what the 17th President did not do to properly atone for the ills of slavery - A system that gave rise to poverty, landlessness, underdevelopment, as well as to the crushing of culture and language, loss of identity, inculcation of inferiority among blacks, and the indoctrination of whites into a racist mindset - all of which continue to this day to affect the prospects and quality of Black People's lives.

America, and its companies, were "unjustly enriched" by a system that enslaved and exploited blacks. The Wall Street banks, and its investors, that the nation is writing checks to built America's infrastructure on the backs of blacks. The number of legal claimants for compensation is undetermined, but Obama could consider a $10,000 annual "slavery tax credit" to Americans who can show themselves descendents of slaves. Some two dozen members of Congress are co-sponsors of legislation to create a commission that would study reparations - that is, payments and programs to make up for the damage done by slavery.

The bill, US House of Representative Resolution 40 "Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act" should be addressed so that such a commission will address who, what and how much is due. The NAACP supports the legislation. Cities around the country, including Obama's home of Chicago, have endorsed the idea, and so has a major union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The old dog-eared adage that "the nation couldn't afford to pay" has been eliminated with the Wall Street buyouts.

If Obama has the confidence to think outside the box, he'll realize what economic stimulus reparations payments would be. The question has always been about how America would raise money to pay reparations, but if they can bailout the infrastructure's entrepreneurs to save America, what about bailing out the people who built it? Article HERE

Cross Posted on African American Political


James said...

I have trouble imagining that President Obama will suddenly change his mind about reparations for slavery. And I don't think his objections have been about the cost.

He seems to be philosophically committed to addressing problems like the legacy of slavery and racial discrimination through color-blind means. And politically, of course, the subject of reparations is dynamite, with over 90% of voters saying that they oppose the whole idea.

I wonder if there are approaches to this issue which would be more palatable to Obama and others, and therefore more likely to happen?

Anonymous said...

Will President Obama Give In to Reparations?

by Robert Oliver

For decades, there have been black Americans, specifically descendants of slaves of African decent, who demanded reparations from the U.S. Government. They claim these reparations would be compensation for over 200 years of their ancestors’ unpaid labor. Now that the United States will have its first president of African decent, many blacks are hopeful that Barack Obama will be sensitive to their demands. However will President Obama give heed to their demands?

A group called the Los Angeles Reparations NOW-Promissory Note Coalition seeks to get President Obama’s attention by an open letter which invokes Dr. Martin Luther Kings’s speech in 1963. The letter says in part: “Being the First African-American or Black-adopted ‘son of the slaves’ in the White House as the Chief Executive of this nation, you can, after your inauguration, immediately by Executive Order implement the mechanism that will complete the unfinished business of all Congressional Civil Rights Acts, including Reparations, that the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the Promissory Note.

“This Promissory Note which evolved out of the administration of Republican-minded President Abraham Lincoln, whom you seek to emulate, was/is the contention in Dr. King’s 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. King declared that one hundred years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, ‘the Negro is still not free.’..As the new President of the U.S. ‘Bank of Justice,’ you will be obligated to pay due attention to the business of the ‘bad check’ that came back in 1963 ‘marked insufficient funds.’”

On Sunday March 8,2009, the Coalition staged a "Black Holocaust Slave Procession," with people role playing slaves and masters and “slave ships” parading from the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper building to Leimert Park in the for a "Slave Auction Block in America" rally.

The Coalition is also gathering signatures all across the United States for a petition, online and printed, to President Obama urging him to follow through on reparations, saying: “Before all else, with ‘the urgency of NOW is the time,’ it is morally imperative that you, as the first ‘one of us’ to be the Chief Executive Officer of the United States, execute the highest Order to ensure that America Keeps Its Promise to the emancipated slaves and their children. Their goal is to gather 30 million signatures, representing the number of descendents of emancipated slaves and black freedmen.

The demand for reparations has had a long history in the United States. Professor Roy E. Finkenbine, Professor of History and Director of the Black Abolitionist Archives at the University of Detroit Mercy commented: “As the generations of African Americans who had known bondage passed from the scene, their descendants, then flocking in ever larger numbers to America's urban centers, continued to push for reparations for slavery. Many black nationalists, especially followers of Marcus Garvey, Communists, and adherents to the Nation of Islam, generated calls for an all-black state or states in the South as a form of restitution to slavery's grandchildren. In 1962, ‘Queen Mother’ Audley Moore of Harlem, a former Garveyite, even presented pro-reparations petitions bearing a million signatures to President John F. Kennedy. During the era of the Civil Rights Movement, a range of African American leaders and organizations called for reparations, including Martin Luther King (the “Promissory Note” – Ed.), Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, the Republic of New Africa, and especially James Forman, whose ‘Black Manifesto’ (1969) shocked white Americans by demanding $500 million from mainstream churches and synagogues to be directed into black economic development.” (

Randall Robinson, black author and former head of Transafrica, in his book The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks says: “(W)hite Americans can begin making reparations for slavery and the century of de jure racial discrimination that followed with monetary restitution, educational programs, and the kinds of equal opportunities that will ensure the social and economic success of all citizens.”

Recently, a “corporate restitution” movement was started to hold Corporate America accountable for past involvement in slavery. In 2002, descendents of slaves filled nine federal lawsuits against several corporations in different industries. These suits claimed that the companies or their predecessors benefited from the transatlantic slave trade. The Business &Human Rights website says: “In October 2002, these lawsuits were consolidated into one class-action lawsuit. In 2004, the court dismissed the claim but allowed the plaintiffs to amend their complaint. The plaintiffs submitted an amended complaint making claims of intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, civil rights violations due to the denial of property rights and consumer fraud…In May 2007, the plaintiffs petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear their appeal of the 2006 court of appeals decision. The Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs’ petition in October 2007, declining to hear the case.” (

Writer Bruce Walker takes a different view: “Reparations lawsuits would force the descendants of John Newton to pay the descendants of tribal leaders who had willingly participated in the slave trade, and then wound up transported slaves themselves, for the collective wrong of Europeans and Americans. These were the very people who ended slavery around the world, including enslavement of Europeans by Africans and of Africans by other Africans. This is not justice, in any real sense of the word, but vile and narrow tribalism.” (
Barack Obama during his presidential run has indicated that he does not support the concept of reparations as defined by those in the reparations movement. The Huffington
Post ( writes: “Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama opposes offering reparations to the descendants of slaves, putting him at odds with some black groups and leaders. The man with a serious chance to become the nation's first black president argues that government should instead combat the legacy of slavery by improving schools, health care and the economy for all. ‘I have said in the past _ and I'll repeat again _ that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed,’ the Illinois Democrat said recently.”
While in South Carolina in 2007, in response to a video question on reparations, Obama said: “I think the reparation we need right here in South Carolina is investment, for example in our schools. I did a town hall meeting in Florence, South Carolina, in an area called the corridor of shame. They've got buildings that students are trying to learn in that were built right after the Civil War. And we've got teachers who are not trained to teach the subjects they're teaching and high dropout rates. We've got to understand that there are corridors of shame all across the country. And if we make the investments and understand that those are our children. That's the kind of reparation that are really going to make a difference in America right now.”

Obama also took a position against reparations during his U.S. Senatorial campaign in 2004. Based on his past statements, some can conclude that President Obama will not change his position. However, the Coalition in Los Angeles is hopeful that he will seriously consider their demands in the context of history.
Over the years, the general reparations movement in the United States debated how they want reparations to be manifested. There are those who want cash for every descendent of slaves, some demanding amounts of $500,000 to $1 million. There are also those who want financial resources directed to education and to black economic infrastructure and not to individuals. Former presidential and senatorial candidate Alan Keyes once advocated a one-generation-income-tax exemption for descendents of slaves. This writer has advocated that the profits of federal-, state-, and county-owned properties, such as mansions used for private events, that benefited former slave owners be earmarked for scholarships for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. One of the organizers of the Coalition John Peoples declares what he wants in the form of reparations: “Me personally, I demand everything.” Mr. Peoples has also recently filed suit against the Roman Catholic Church for its alleged participation in the slave trade.
Ted Hayes, homeless advocate and one-time congressional candidate in Los Angeles says: “There is an historical precedent for our actions. Queen Mother Audley E. Moore, the “mother” of the reparations movement, in 1963 presented to President John F. Kennedy a one-million-signature petition for reparations. Dr. King said to President Kennedy and to the nation in August of that year that the check came back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ We say to President Obama that he can make the check good. Mr. Obama, with the urgency of now, this is your time. Pay the Promissory Note!”

Robert Oliver is a writer, radio commentator, and photographer living in Southern California. He can be reached at interactionswest (at) gmail (dot) com.

The Power of a Man's Passion said...

Will reparations reduce any of the monies appropriated as a result of Roosevelt's post WW II New Deal program? If so...then do the math.


Francis Holland said...

I don't get your point, David. White people have benefited from the New Deal more than Blacks, if only because there are more whites numerically who are eligible for the benefits of the New Deal programs.

The Power of a Man's Passion said...

I'm not making a point. I'm merely "raising" a question because I don't know the answer. The question is the point. We don't have absolute certainty about anything until we have the facts. I don't have the facts.

Certainly your point about whites benefiting due to the numbers of whites vs. blacks in America is warranted.

Can I receive reparations because of the American educational system which abused me?

Can I have reparations becasue of the criminal justice system which abused me?

Can I receive reparations due to media abuse?

Can I receive reparations due to executive oversight?

Can I receive reparations due to political indifference?

Can I receive reparations due to reverse discrimination?

Can I receive reparations due to legislative callousness?

Can I receive reparations due to judicial brutality and prejudice?

Can I receive reparations due to the imposition of cultural insanity upon me and my family?

Please answer these questions.

And...I have about a dozen more that will apply.

Like I said...I'm merely raising a question...just as I was taught as a tot...if you don't know...ASK!


Anonymous said...

look up repartions in this respect and you will have your answers.

Francis Holland said...

David, I don't like to use the word "reparations", because I spent three years in law school and never saw the word in a tort case or any other kind of case.*

"Restitution", on the other hand, is a word that I saw quite often, along with the phrase "making the plaintiff whole". I also remember the phrases "unjust enrichment" and "monetary damages" and "with interest".

I think these legal terms and phrases with which we are all familiar are more useful than the term "reparations", if only because people know the circumstances under which they may get the above commonplace forms of relief, but no one know when, how or if "reparations" have been made in the past or might be made in the future.

To answer your "Can I questions", I believe in many cases you may be able to receive judicial relief if you are discriminated against on the basis of your skin color.

I think you already know that you would have to provide much more detailed information for anyone to know whether you can receive relief based on the other claims. It seems to me that some of them do not constitute a claim for which relief is available regardless of the skin color of the plaintiff.

*This is not legal advice. If you want legal advice, seek out a practicing lawyer in your state or the state in which the harm occurred.