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Racial and Ethnic Politics

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Racial & Ethnic

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Should reparations be paid to the descendants of victims of slavery?
• Some reject the decision made in the Bakke case that providing a remedy for the effects of racial discrimination is unconstitutional. They argue that the idea of reparations is rooted in international law.
• Affirmative Action is inadequate, the ‘Maafa’ (meaning disaster, i.e., slavery) is a crime against humanity, and therefore compensation is required.
• In the past 50 years apologies and financial compensation has been given to a wide range of groups, including survivors of the Jewish holocaust (as well as descendants of the victims), Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned during the Second World War and native Americans who had their land illegally seized in the USA.
• African Americans have been demanding compensation for slavery since the end of the American Civil War. Immediately after the abolition of slavery, the demand was for 40 acres and a mule to ensure they would not be dependent on their former slave-owners. Then, between 1890 and 1917, there was a movement to lobby the government for pensions to compensate for their unpaid labour under slavery. Since 1989, Congressman John Conyers Jnr (Michigan) has introduced a bill every year to study the case for reparations. Each of these initiatives has been largely ignored by the political establishment.
• Reparations would ensure full recognition of the scale of the Maafa and, at the same time, undermine those who claim that there is no further need for Affirmative Action. They would also compensate for slavery, provide psychological relief for black anger and white guilt resulting from centuries of racial oppression and, as a result, build a more united nation based on a common understanding of American history.
• To those who argued that it would be impossible to determine who...

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