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Dr. Boyce: Jamaica Talks Reparations, But What About “Us?”

A few Jamaican lawmakers recently announced a quest to explore reparations for slavery.  This is the second effort to discuss reparations, after the first one failed in 2010 due to financial difficulties.  The effort involves the restoration of a commission that will investigate the issue and possibly ask for compensation from Britain or repatriation of some Jamaicans to Africa.

Most people of color might agree that Jamaica is not the only country where its citizens deserve reparations for slavery.  African Americans continue to endure the consequences of the slave trade to this day:  Whites have a wealth level that is several times higher than our own, we don’t have the tax base to afford quality schools, and most of the major institutions in the United States are run by whites.  In fact, most African Americans work for a predominantly white-owned company, and the majority of them don’t get the opportunities they deserve.

These institutional disparities didn’t create themselves.  Also, in spite of what White Supremacy 101 teaches us, inequality is not the result of laziness or a lack of discipline on the part of African Americans.  Instead, the disparities are the result of a nation’s 400 year commitment toward creating a society in which one group lives in a way that is superior to another.

The United Nations and other parts of the world have noted the impact of slavery on American racial disparities.   The United States, a country that regularly claims the moral high ground on human rights violations around the world, is unable to see violations of its own.  Not only have reparations not been paid to people of color, whose families experienced undeniable abuse at the hands of slavery and Jim Crow, but our nation has even refused to apologize.

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