Tuesday, 5 August 2008

It's Time Blacks Requested "Compensation" and "Restitution" Instead of "Reparations"

RE: "Reparations" are out, "Compensation" and "Restitution" are possible.

Although well-meaning, it is wrong to say that it is impossible or unworkable for Blacks to request "compensation" and "restitution" for slavery, and so we therefore have to request the Blacks-only remedy of reparations. In law, plaintiffs have to request remedies that are known to the courts, or they are said to have failed to state a claim and their cases are thrown out of court. Although courts regularly grant "restitution" and "compensation",

See, for example, the Jewish experience requesting "restitution" and "compensation" and the positive treatment their requests received in the US Congress, even for those who were not alive at the time of the Holocaust:


(a) IN GENERAL- For purposes of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, any excludable
restitution payments received by an eligible individual (or the individual's heirs or estate) and any excludable interest--

(1) shall not be included in gross income; and

(2) shall not be taken into account for purposes of applying any provision of such Code which takes into account excludable income in computing adjusted gross income, including section 86 of such Code (relating to taxation of Social Security benefits).

For purposes of such Code, the basis of any property received by an eligible individual (or the individual's heirs or estate) as part of an excludable restitution payment shall be the fair market value of such property as of the time of the receipt.

As I said yesterday, and I as further prove today, "restitution" and "compensation" are terms that are generally recognized by US courts and the US Congress for people who have been harmed by others' actions. And so "restitution" and "compensation" are terms that American white people are far more likely to receive warmly than the term "reparations", which is a "Blacks-only" concept that is foreign to American jurisprudence.

Effectively, the United States has had segregated terminology for what people get when they have been seriously wronged. "Restitution" and "compensation" are words that are heard everyday in American courts. "Reparations" is a term used exclusively with respect to Blacks and slavery, which puts the term and the concept in a linguistic and juridical ghetto, redlined in a place where the normal forms of legal relief are unavailable, simply because the victims were Black.

The term "reparations" tell America, whenever the term is used, the victims are Black and so they should be given what we ALWAYS treat Black people who request reparations: nothing at all.

The modern reparations movement revived an idea that’s been around since emancipation, when black leaders argued that newly freed slaves deserved compensation.

About six years ago, the issue started gaining momentum again. Randall Robinson’s “The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks,” was a best seller; reparations became a central issue at the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa; and California legislators passed the nation’s first law forcing insurance companies that do business with the state to disclose their slavery ties. Illinois passed a similar insurance law in 2003, and the next year Iowa legislators began requesting — but not forcing — the same disclosures. MSNBC

In other words, "reparations" is a concept that, in the United States, is almost wholly associated with Black people and that, therefore, starts out at a thrity-yard deficit in a 100 yard legal and legislative dash. However, if you ask for the same thing that other groups have received under similar circumstances, then that gives you legal and social and political precedents from which to work.

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