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This is Black History Month (BHM). Ta-Nehisi Coates is an award-winning journalist, political commentator and prolific blogger; he writes in ways that challenge how we think, perceive and respond to matters pertaining to race and related societal issues. The article below is far more extensive than is shown here. OneWorld Progressive Institute, Inc encourages visitors to read the entire article in the Atlantic Magazine; there is an active link below. Please share it. Whether one agrees or not, the information provided in the article is factual and informative. There can be no harm in learning about such an important aspect of America's history.
The Case for Reparations: An Intellectual Autopsy
Four years ago, I opposed reparations. Here's the story of how my thinking has evolved since then. Ta-Nehisi Coates May 22 2014,
The best thing about writing a blog is the presence of a live and dynamic journal of one's own thinking. Some portion of the reporter's notebook is out there for you to scrutinize and think about as the longer article develops. For me, this current article—an argument in support of reparations—began four years ago when I opposed reparations. A lot has happened since then. I've read a lot, talked to a lot of people, and spent a lot of time in Chicago where the history, somehow, feels especially present. I think I owe you a walk-through on how my thinking evolved.
When I wrote opposing reparations I was about halfway through my deep-dive into the Civil War. I roughly understood then that the Civil War—the most lethal conflict in American history—boiled down to the right to raise an empire based on slaveholding and white supremacy. What had not yet clicked for me was precisely how essential enslavement was to America, that its foundational nature explained the Civil War's body count. The sheer value of enslaved African-Americans is just astounding. And looking at this recent piece by Chris Hayes, I'm wondering if my numbers are short (emphasis added):
In order to get a true sense of how much wealth the South held in bondage, it makes far more sense to look at slavery in terms of the percentage of total economic value it represented at the time. And by that metric, it was colossal. In 1860, slaves represented about 16 percent of the total household assets—that is, all the wealth—in the entire country, which in today’s terms is a stunning $10 trillion.
Ten trillion dollars is already a number much too large to comprehend, but remember that wealth was intensely geographically focused. According to calculations made by economic historian Gavin Wright, slaves represented nearly half the total wealth of the South on the eve of secession. “In 1860, slaves as property were worth more than all the banks, factories and railroads in the country put together,” civil war historian Eric Foner tells me. “Think what would happen if you liquidated the banks, factories and railroads with no compensation.”
As with any economic institution of that size, enslavement grew from simply a question of money to a question of societal, even theological, importance.
I got that in 2011, from Jim McPherson (emphasis again added):
"The conflict between slavery and non-slavery is a conflict for life and death," a South Carolina commissioner told Virginians in February 1861. "The South cannot exist without African slavery." Mississippi's commissioner to Maryland insisted that "slavery was ordained by God and sanctioned by humanity." If slave states remained in a Union ruled by Lincoln and his party, "the safety of the rights of the South will be entirely gone."
If these warnings were not sufficient to frighten hesitating Southerners into secession, commissioners played the race card. A Mississippi commissioner told Georgians that Republicans intended not only to abolish slavery but also to "substitute in its stead their new theory of the universal equality of the black and white races."
Georgia's commissioner to Virginia dutifully assured his listeners that if Southern states stayed in the Union, "we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything."
(This was in 1861. Think about some of the things that were said by some leading politicians in Washington D.C., after the election of President Barack Obama in 2008! How far have we come? N'Zinga Shäni, OneWorld, Inc)