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Subject:  Re: OT: Reparations Date:  6/5/2001  6:36 PM
Author:  MSHH Number:  41031 of 875589

Hi clifp,

Really enjoyed your post and agree with most of it, especially your comments on the atrocities taking place right now in places like the Sudan and Sierra Leone. I wish African American leaders (and all other leaders) who are so concerned with reparations would express as much concern for the slave trade that is taking place right now in Africa and parts of the the Arab world. I think the reason they don't is obvious.

I was also interested in your reference to the men who died fighting the slave trade after it had been abolished in the United States. I was just reading an article from the Atlantic Monthly from 1900 written by one of the men who was involved in that fight. It's called "The Capture of a Slaver" and is a first hand account of what that was like.

The article tells the familiar account of how horrible conditions on a slaver were:
>>From the time we first got on board we had heard moans, cries, and rumblings coming from below, and as soon as the captain and crew were removed, the hatches had been taken off, when there arose a hot blast as from a charnel house, sickening and overpowering. In the hold were three or four hundred human beings, gasping, struggling for breath, dying; their bodies, limbs, faces, all expressing terrible suffering. In their agonizing fight for life, some had torn or wounded themselves or their neighbors dreadfully; some were stiffened in the most unnatural positions. As soon as I knew the condition of things I sent the boat back for the doctor and some whiskey. It returned bringing Captain Thompson, and for an hour or more we were all hard at work lifting and helping the poor creatures on deck, where they were laid out in rows. A little water and stimulant revived most of them; some, however, were dead or too far gone to be resuscitated. The doctor worked earnestly over each one, but seventeen were beyond human skill. As fast as he pronounced them dead they were quickly dropped overboard.<<
But perhaps more interesting is the light the article sheds on how even these slave trade fighters viewed the victims:

>>Gradually I allowed a larger number of the blacks to remain on deck, a privilege which they greatly enjoyed. To lie basking in the sun like saurians, half sleeping, half waking, appeared to satisfy all their wishes. They were perfectly docile and obedient, and not by word, gesture, or look did they express any dissatisfaction with orders given them. But again for any little acts of kindness they expressed no kind of appreciation or gratitude. Physically they were men and women, but otherwise as far removed from the Anglo-Saxon as the oyster from the baboon, or the mole from the horse.<<

That this kind of comment could be printed in a respected magazine like Atlantic Monthly in the year 1900 is ample proof of what attitudes Blacks in America faced many years (40) after the abolition of slavery. And for many years after that, of course. Remember, this was the attitude of someone who had been involved in the fight against the now illegal slave trade!

So to tie the issue of reparations solely to the institution of slavery in some way misses the point. The attitudes and beliefs that allowed slavery to flourish for so long in America remained long after actual slavery had been abolished in America and limited the opportunities for Blacks in America for many decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and Reconstruction just as surely as if neither had taken place, especially in the South.

I won't get into what I think the attitude of the mostly white (I assume) posters here would be if it had been THEIR great great grandfather forced off their land like many "negroes" were forced off their 40 acres during and after Reconstruction.....

Suffice to say I don't think their attitude toward reparations would be so confidently certain that reparations are some kind of scam....

Thanks for the good post, Clif.


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