Reparations: what does it mean to you?

Rolling Out reader and Atlanta resident Cornelius Tarver on Black reparations (Photo Source: Cornelius Tarver)
Rolling Out reader and Atlanta resident Cornelius Tarver on Black reparations (Photo Source: Cornelius Tarver)

The recent news of the Obama administration earmarking $12 million to assist Holocaust survivors in the United States has caused discussion in the Black community. Many have asked, what about those suffering below the poverty line who have survived the Black Holocaust in this nation? Black Americans are questioning Obama’s actions.

We asked a few readers a not so simple question: “Black Reparations: What does it mean to you?”


The first of our respondents is Atlanta resident Cornelius Tarver. Tarver is a conscious Black man who is deeply concerned about the issues facing the Black Diaspora. He is a graduate of Tuskegee University with a B.A. in agriculture. Tarver states, “I watched the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement as a child in New York where I was born and raised. I moved south early and I’ve lived in Atlanta since 1994.”

Here is his response:


“As an African American descendant of Africans forcibly brought to the United States and kept in bondage as slaves I maintain that we deserve to be paid reparations for our ancestors’ labor and suffering. Even though no African American slave is living today, so much of what was wrought from their labor and servitude is now still in existence. Black slave labor built America. They built the buildings and infrastructure, much of which is still in use today. Their labor created the institutional wealth that enriched this country laying the foundation of its current prosperity. Slavery necessitated a system of laws and practices to keep our ancestors in bondage and those same systems are still operating today to keep us oppressed. The vestiges of slavery are still so pronounced even in the 21st century 150 years later that descendants of African American slaves today are very much living what our ancestors lived. Reparations should be paid for the purpose of monetary compensation and punitive damages. The federal government should pay restitutions to every African American descendant of American slaves. They should also be granted by giving us a stake in the institutions such as corporations, financial institutions and colleges and universities which were structurally built and bolstered economically by free slave labor. Some of the money should also come from punitive damages against institutions such as police forces, the judicial system, governments and schools which have systematically discriminated against us and are still oppressing us today. The punitive damages will also serve to win justice and help end the oppression. Finally we deserve land to form a nation of our own. History has proven that the descendants of Black slaves will never know peace living amongst the descendants of white slave owners. The vestiges of slavery are far too prevalent for Blacks and whites to ever be reconciled. Calculating the financial value of our reparations will be a monumental task. Reparations paid to other groups can serve as a model. It can be calculated as restitution and punitive damages are calculated for all other crimes but on a massive scale. Being a colossal unprecedented challenge fraught with struggle is no justification not to pay reparations to African Americans for slavery.”

To participate in our discussion, just follow the author Mo Barnes on Twitter through the link on this page.

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