*Political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson takes on the torrid debate over reparations for slavery in his new book “Reparations!“ (Middle Passage Press) Release June 1, 2023. Hutchinson notes that the question Randall Robinson in 2000 about the debt American reparations contend America owes Blacks has not been paid.
In Reparations! Hutchinson examines the many facets of the raging debate over reparations. He explores the history of reparations proposals. He compares reparations paid to other groups for injustices including Germany’s reparations payout to Holocaust survivors to the demand for slavery reparations.
He assesses the arguments for and against reparations and why it has become such a racially polarizing issue. He asks if can you put a price tag on slavery reparations and what is that price to be made for slavery’s two-century horror. A huge part of the calamitous legacy is the continuing towering economic and racial inequities Hutchinson says that whether one backs or opposes reparations it’s an issue that will continue to ignite prickly passions within and without America’s racial fault lines.
He opens with the background on the introduction on November 20, 1989, by Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers of a reparation proposal. He became the first government official to formally propose that Congress study what, whether, and how some form of reparations for slavery should be made to African Americans. The bill was sent to the House Judiciary Committee.
Hutchinson reminds us that Conyers did not call for Congress to make reparations payments to African Americans. He did not specify what, how, or what form any reparations should be made or taken. He did not set a timetable for payments if there were any to be made. He called solely for Congress to set up a commission to study the question. His call was “to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies and for other purposes.” The commission would simply be called the “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.”
Meanwhile, others filled in the blanks and put their spin on what reparations should look like. That further fueled debate. It also firmly hardened the lines between those who backed reparations and those who opposed them. It also tightened the racial divide on reparations. The overwhelming majority of Blacks in numerous polls on the issue backed reparations. A solid majority of whites opposed them.
Reparations! presents the stark, tumultuous, and contentious clash over what and whether stills owe Blacks for slavery.