That single word has the power to bring forth memories of slave screams, blood-shed, lynching, raping and the unrepentant theft of generations of successful Black families by the United States of America.
It also has the power to breed resentment, as the 40 acres and a mule that Black Americans were promised by General William Sherman at the close of the American Civil War were snatched away by President Andrew Johnson and returned to their White owners.
Watch the 2008 presidential hopefuls debate whether African Americans should receive reparations here:
Primarily left landless, fragmented, disconnected from our culture, and uneducated with little-to-no chance of gainful employment, the dregs of slavery and Jim and Jane Crow continue to poison our communities in both tangible and intangible ways.
During her investigation into the wealth — or lack thereof — in the African-American community, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien spoke with Rev. DeForest B. Soaries of First Baptist Church in Lincoln, New Jersey, who made the sharp correlation that “debt is slavery”:
“When I’m paying last month’s bills with next month’s check, that’s slavery. When I ‘m writing a check hoping that it doesn’t bounce, or when I pull out my credit card praying that it’s not rejected, then I’m living in financial bondage.”
Watch Minister Louis Farrakhan discuss what America and Europe owe to Blacks here:
What becomes clear when the imbalanced economic scales in this country are tilted further by institutionalized racism, is that we are still very much living within a system that profited immensely from the blood, sweat, and tears of slave labor, while refusing to make good on the loan of our livelihoods and collective economic value. According to Harper’s magazine (November, 2000), the United States stole an estimated $100 trillion dollars for 222,505,049 hours of forced labor between 1619 and 1865 with a compounded interest of 6 percent.
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In lieu of these tragic numbers, Dr. John Hope Franklin, renowned historian and author of “From Slavery to Freedom,” voices his contempt for the pseudo-apologies that the U.S. government has given for an institution that has left Black America in a perpetual race, with many having no idea why we seem to never make significant and collective economic strides: