How can American society ever right the wrongs of enslaving Africans and backing an economic system that allows for wage slavery? We have seen many cases where the government has compensated groups–Native Americans for instance–for what was stolen from them. Why aren’t the stolen services of people’s forced servitude viewed with the same worthiness for repayment? On this episode of The Axiom Amnesia Theory, Heit & Cheri talk about the idea of reparations.
Topics discussed include “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth,” slavery, reparations for slavery, wage slavery, speculation on the logistics of a reparations class action, whether reparations for African slaves and wage slaves will ever become a reality and more!
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- Discussion about “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth.” When the slavemaster died, his family decided not to sell the mother, and promised to give her her freedom as long as she would take care of her husband–so they didn’t have to pay/support taking care of this elderly man who couldn’t do for himself anymore.
- Discussion about how people were able to survive in such tough conditions. These slaveowners sapped all of the good years out of peoples’ lives, then discard them in their old age.
- Discussion about Sojourner’s father being set free, and whether that was a meaningful thing at that time in his life.
- People want to be free so they can reap the benefits of freedom.
- Discussion about whether Sojourner’s parents should have been given something upon their departure from the plantation.
- Discusion about the practice of not giving people fair compensation for what they’re worth as part of a business decision.
- The former slaves didn’t know anything but the plantation lifestyle. Once set free, they had to really struggle to make it. They needed to develop skills to successfully take care of themselves.
- People are owed a portion of whatever profits that are made on the backs of slaves and even wage slaves today.
- Discussion about Native Americans receiving a settlement that will reimbursement them for lands that the government was holding and used for profit.
- All of the companies that made money during slavery and still exist today should be liquidated and have a significant portion of the proceeds divided between the descendants of slaves and those who were wage slaves for the company over time.
- Discussion about the idea of compensating families of African slaves and those of wage slaves.
- Discussion about the liquidation of assets for reparations for slavery.
- Discussion about the idea of “resetting” wealth, such that everyone started over with assets equally divided among all the people.
- Discussion about how the “remedies” offered by the government always leave Blacks who partake in them in a position of dependence on the government. Why not give a settlement for once and for all?
- Discussion of the need for a “spokesperson” to negotiate a settlement on behalf of Blacks. People wouldn’t get the benefit unless they signed on to the class action.
- The mentality that allowed slaves really hasn’t changed when it comes to “human capital.” They want to get as much out of the people as they can.
- What would it take for reparations to become a reality? Blacks would have to be in significant control of the government, and we don’t see that happening. It will take more than a White House petition or Black leaders discussing it.
- Why have other groups received some form of compensation for their group, but the descendants of African slaves have not? Part of it is the whole Black/white dominance in the race discussion in the country, it doesn’t get as much attention. The other issue is that with Native Americans, it is about land–something tangible. When you talk about African slaves, their service wasn’t a tangible thing. This allows people to rationalize away the significance of what was stolen from enslaved Africans and their subsequent generations.
- Discussion about what it will take for reparations to actually occur.
- Discussion about the necessity of slaves being declared property–that they already owned themselves, thus requiring compensation for them being stolen from themselves. Or, you’d have to translate the actual value of their servitude.
- Discussion about the legality of slavery at the time.
- Reparations probably will never happen, because so many people–even plenty of Blacks–view reparations as a hand out, thus they disagree. A conversation about how things have changed and are equal now usually ensues.
- Episode 093: Capitalism Equals Classism