Tags: Uncategorized, Uncategorized BlogWorks Posts
After reading this entry over at Raven’s site, along with this piece over at Negro, Please yesterday, I was all set and fired to write an entry about reparations and apologies for slavery done by ancestors. But I didn’t. I was a wee bit too angry, particularly at Raven’s entry, to write anything that wouldn’t have been filled with lots of profanity and very little coherency. I’m not sure I’m much better now.
(Update after writing, but before posting: Read into this post what you will, but know that you can never accurately play telepath when reading. Perceiving anything more than frustration on my part and a general inability to write well is probably a bit extreme.)
In particular, I’m going to pick on Raven, because her entry (and one or two of the comments) exemplifies my issues with reparations. I don’t particularly think reparations should or shouldn’t be given–I know I’m not mainstream enough to be able to judge the wants and needs of a culture I take very little part in–but I do think people should think damned hard before jumping up and saying “free money is good, give it here”. Everything has a cost, including this money the government would hand over to us. Reparations isn’t about an apology from the government for slavery. It is, to put it bluntly, “shut the hell up” money. They pay us off, and the race thing is done. The white man is no longer The Man, putting us down. The slate is wiped clean. Blacks can no longer justifiably bitch about how white folks’ ancestors dragged us over in chains like sardines on horrible boats… It’s done. One of Raven’s commentors says:
Some say the payout of money would let them off the hook. I say, good, then maybe we can move past the WHOLE racial picture…
Why do I think it is incredibly naive to think a little money from our broke-ass government is going to solve all the racial problems in the country? I mean, of course because we are paid back for slavery, all those people in the ghetto are going to get safe, legitimate jobs, blacks will sudden become much less angry and stop killing each over who owns what blocks of Compton, everyone who wants to go to college is suddenly going to have the educational and fiscal means to get there, etc., etc. And, of course, all the whites who see blacks as inferior (and blacks who treat whites as inferior) will suddenly be able to see past skin color and we call all hold hands in a big circle and sing “We Are the World” (you know, that Michael Jackson song). Who the fuck are we kidding? The money will change nothing. Now, while I don’t think we should cling to the blame game–constantly complaining about how The Man is putting down, and all that stuff I wrote above–why is it that we need to be paid by the government to let go of this anger and need for revenge? And what are they going to do–make sure all the money comes from white taxpayers whose families have been in the U.S. for more than 150 years? Yeah, right. But if we want revenge, isn’t that the way to do it? If we want this apology to come from those who enslaved us, then let’s get the money from those who actually enslaved us. Because, of course, G. Dub the Shrub is actually enslaving blacks and dragging them on boats over from Africa for free labor, and, why, so is my middle class white neighbor! Wow, fancy that.
Nothing says I’m sorry like a few thousand crisp greenbacks….the only thing Bush could do for me while he’s in Africa is get in those mines and bring me back some diamonds. You ever heard that Chris Rock joke when he says one of the most pathetic sights to see is a black woman in line at the store using her credit card? Well there is a sight waaay more pathetic than that: The Blacks getting reparations. Trust. Fake Manolo Blahnik Timbs would abound…along with fat girls in jersey dresses and enough blonde and maroon weave to carpet a 56,000 square foot home. Since I’m not feeling fiscally responsible these days I won’t lie and tell you that I would spend my reparations trying to build and clean up the black community…I would be at Bloomingdales getting my shop on. Eating skrimps and lobsters and I would buy lots of toiletries from Wal-Mart.
No, deary, nothing says “I’m sorry” like thinking real apologies are dealt with through money and thinking it will really be that simple in the end.
Sorry, that was probably a bit harsh.
I hate to say it–No, wait, I don’t. That’s a damned stereotypical way to spend those “crisp greenbacks”. And I suspect she’s not alone, just because I’m cynical like that. How many are going to save this money for their children’s education, or invest it (or take the time to learn how to invest), or even just save it? Everybody’s got bills to pay, mouths to feed, clothes and shoes to strut, or debt to get into. I have to shake my head at this, although I suspect I wouldn’t be any better.
But why do white people now have anything to apologize for? We’ve got a law here that states that no man shall be held responsible for the crimes of his father (or father’s father, etc.). Now, while I’m not trying to turn this into a legal issue, isn’t this something we hold morally dear as well? I mean, I would certainly hate to be arrested a few years from now when my father kicks the bucket because he smoked a joint when he was younger. His shit is not on my record. Is that not morally true as well? Aren’t children known in almost every (major) religion as being innocents, without the sins or wrongs of their parents? (Or am I completely mixing up my religous knowledge here?)
What bothers me, what always bothers me when most politicians, actually when many white people in general, talk about the crimes of slavery they do so in a way that distances themselves from the crime. [...] I just think my gag reflex and bullshit meter wouldn’t go off so strongly if somebody, anybody, would just add a little, “These crimes were done by Americans, some of whom were my ancestors…it pains me that that is in my history…” etc. etc. etc.
Why should The Shrub do a sob number because he had shitty ancestors? To me, that would get my gag reflex going and bullshit meter up.
Jason also said:
What it always feels like to me is that while I always know my ancestors were slaves at some time, the slave masters, the slavers, the captors, and everyone else involved were these mysterious white people that have no connection to white people today. And believe me, I understand that so many of our current American population came over in boats in the late 1800s and early 1900s and thus had little direct connection with slavery in America. I get that. The fact remains, though, that somebody’s white great great great granddaddy owned some big black bucks.
I’m just saying a little recognition of that would make all this rhetoric sound a little more genuine.
What exactly is the connection between modern people and their ancestors, of any race? I don’t believe crimes bleed over; otherwise, shouldn’t blacks be apologizing to one another? I recall reading in a couple of books that slavery started within Africa, by blacks, and the situation was only exacerbated when whites came and began mass exportations, later to be complicated with racism. Maybe this is a lie put in the books by The Man, I don’t know. Why don’t Americans apologize to every Japanese they meet? Hell, World War II was only 50, 60 years ago, right? Kids are probably still being born with 3 arms and 15 toes in some of those areas (yes, that is a small joke). Why aren’t Christians apologizing to Arabs, or even their own damn children, for the Crusades? Need everyone walk around with tears in their eyes and their shoulders hunched for the crimes of their ancestors? At some point, you must move on. Slavery was a bad, sick thing. So was the Holocaust, so was the Third Crusade. Very few people have the writing ability (or speaking ability) to paint an accurate picture of the true horror of these crimes. So for G. Dub to stand up there (with his Keebler Elf looks) and say, “These crimes were done by Americans, some of whom were my ancestors…it pains me that that is in my history…” means nothing. One, who cares how pained G. Dub is or isn’t, and secondly, his acknowledgement of the crimes of his ancestors changes what, exactly? I guess I just don’t see how G. Dub’s opnion on anything means anything. There is no one left who can apologize with any credibility for slavery. Nor is there really anyone alive today to credibly accept that apology. I have to go back about four generations (my great-great-grandfather and -mother) to find those that were slaves. Even if you measure the beginnings of the real end to be the 1960s, that still creates nearly the same distance from folks now and World War II and the Japanese. So why are we trying to recreate villians and victims that died years ago? Why do we still need this crutch that excuses our laziness and lack of motivation (yes, admittedly, motivation and ambition in the mid-class white/Western European meaning of the word), and gives us something to complain about and excuses our small-mindedness (killing over who “owns” certain areas of a city? Please.)? Anything that is used as an excuse for trying to live off government money for generations, refusing to be educated (yes, I did say refusing as I’m narrowing my finger-pointing), and that validates gangs and the crimes they commit needs to be gotten fucking rid of. Just get rid of it. The government can give us buckets of money and it won’t make a fucking difference. Because money does not solve problems with attitude, with belief, with emotions. And all of that has to change way more drastically on both sides than any fiscal situation.
I don’t understand people who say they don’t want reparations. I pray that I never become that self-righteous or whatever un-virtue it is to turn down free money.
What about the cost of just grabbing that free money? Money is never free–you either work for it, or pay for it later. We all want to solve the racial issues here in America; this shit has been going on too long and is quite absurd. But how will it feel to be the race that could be paid off for the heinous crime of slavery, with all the physical and mental tortures done during that time (and after), with the measely wages of the workers? Is that pride on my part? Self-rightousness? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t call an attempt to take a deeper look at the issue rather than thinking about all the faux fur shit I could buy an “un-virtue”.