Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Forty Acres And A Mule Denied

Right after the end of the Civil War, freed slaves were promised Forty Acres and a Mule by General Sherman, who likely didn't have the authority to offer nor grant such a reparation.  The offer was quickly withdrawn.  Never to be resurrected.

We now are in remembrance of MLK's assassination in Memphis fifty years ago.  Many really nice gatherings around the country are being recorded for this tragic event.  Lots of speeches.  Community breakfasts.  A whole lot of lip service.   But nothing else.

We are in the throws of full blown public racism now.  Racists empowered by a crude and racist President are speaking and acting.  Some violently.  Many with verbal toxicity.  All with hate and resentment.  What to do about this?

Every few years a new reparations movement gets started by a few people.  Then quickly silenced and forgotten.  And the failure of America to maintain a just society for all remains, though seldom acknowledged.  The disparity in civil rights, employment opportunities and voting rights between Anglo and African American  people continues to widen.  The social and economic chasm between our groups enlarges.  And public hate and disrespect has become normal after many decades of suppressed expression.

It seems to me that we need a social compact to close the gap at least in the sphere of economic opportunity and social disparity.  The first order of business, when we remove overt racists from political/public leadership, must be a national initiative to remove employment discrimination, electoral suppression and civil rights denial based on ethnic (and gender) background. We must have reconciliation commissions active in every community to foster dialogue and educate ignorant racists.  Give them a chance to recant and reconcile.  If they can't or don't, ostracize them, quite frankly.

Then as a society we must redeem ourselves and our inherited history of racism by providing financial reparations to those clearly damaged by our racist system; the proof of the damage is in lousy education, substandard housing and neighborhood services and economic deprivation.    This process of identifying the damaged and providing reparations in the key areas of life must be administered by a commission of African Americans, not white people enjoying the privilege of light pigment.

The hard core racists will rebel.  Don't let them hurt any of us.  Put the rebellion down quickly with Federal force if necessary.  Then, we move on and try our best to be a decent society of all of us.  We can create the 21st century of 40 Acres and a Mule.