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Since the colonization of Africa and its indigenous people; the Black man,

woman and child have essentially been taken from a place of sovereign

spirituality and royalty, to the status of social pariahs of the world.



A Matter of Human Rights

Bill H.R.40: The Commission to Study the Reparations Proposal


By M. Quinn     


As America continues to declare itself as the moral authority around the world, and likewise impose strict economic and political repercussions against the countries that purportedly violate the laws against humanity; it has been thoroughly incompetent in digesting and making atonement for its own immoral past.

For, when we take a judicious and unwavering look at the plight of the Black populations in America, and the African nations worldwide; it becomes undoubtedly apparent that the mental, economic, social, spiritual and political state that Black people find themselves in was not of their own making.

The perpetual stain of institutional racism from the blatant brutality, degradation, murder and out right mind control tactics of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade; to Jim Crow, and the subjective racism that so prevalent today; these events have unquestionably embedded a deep physiological scar on the psyche of Africans “Black people” world wide; including within United States, and have not been adequately addressed by the architects thereof.

There have been innumerable opportunities for the United States to exhibit the morality that it prides itself in having over the rest of the world, and deal with the inhumane acts perpetrated upon the very men and women that built this country, the American Blacks.

Nevertheless, to date the expression of moral, economic, and social justice for Blacks in America has been hollow rhetoric and broken promises at best; and exceedingly fictional action by the U.S. Government at worst.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition - morality is defined as; 1. The quality of being in accordance with standards of right or good conduct. 2. A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct, 3. Virtuous conduct, 4. A rule or lesson in moral conduct.

It is therefore my belief, that a moral person or nation should not have to be persuaded to do the right thing; they should do so without any coercion. Morality is a byproduct of a moral mindset, which directly affects ones actions and behavior. One cannot make the claim of having morality in a vacuum.

Since the colonization of Africa and its indigenous people; the Black man, woman and child have essentially been taken from a place of sovereign spirituality and royalty, to the status of social pariahs of the world. It is imperative that in the 21st century, we no longer seek to minimize the plight of the African, while attempting to sweep the matter under the political and social rug. We must begin to address, and redress the matter directly to effectively move forward.

The Commission to Study the Reparations Proposal for African American’s Act (better known as Bill H.R. 40) was originally introduced in 1989 by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. The bill was essentially designed to study the economic, political and social affects of slavery on Black Americans. The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights has rejected the very notion of hearing this bill every year since 1989. The original vote for H.R. 40 by the House of Representatives received a meager 28 votes out of 435 members.

It is imperative that we understand that Reparations for the atrocities perpetrated against innocent African men, women, and children are more than a simple act of recompense. It is a deeply moral, social and political recognition of being wronged.

We must equally ask ourselves, that if Jewish people - and rightfully so, insisted that the German government redress its immoral past; and if the horrendous crimes against the Native Americans were redressed, what makes the idea of America correcting its immoral past atrocities committed against countless innocent African men, women, and children so hard to fathom? For to do this means that we can truly embark upon the path toward correcting the social sickness, that is "American Racism.”

Furthermore, no federal legislation to date, has adequately addressed the plight of the African in the world community and the horrendous crimes against humanity inflicted upon them, which served as the catalyst for today's discrimination and racist mentality. The current legislation to combat racism in America is reactionary at best; and merely deals with the affects of racism, not the causation itself. To adequately address the evils of racism - in America and the world community, we must deal directly with the causation of this cancerous mindset, not merely the effects thereof.

The four hundred years of degradation, brutality, and murder; coupled with cultural and spiritual genocide perpetrated upon African people, eclipses both of the fore-mention events; bar none.

Bill H.R. 40 seeks to address the following:

A. Acknowledge the fundamental injustice and inhumanity of American slavery.

B. Establish a commission to study slavery, its subsequent racial and economic discrimination against freed slaves.

C. Study the impact of those forces on today's living African Americans.

D. Make recommendations to Congress on appropriate remedies to redress the harm inflicted on today's living African Americans.

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. on Reparations

If you are the son of a man who had a wealthy estate and you inherit your father's estate, you have to pay off the debts that your father incurred before he died. The only reason that the present generation of white Americans are in a position of economic because their fathers worked our fathers for over 400 years with no pay...We were sold from plantation to plantation like you sell a horse, or a cow, or a chicken, or a bushel of wheat...All that what gives the present generation of American whites the ability to walk around the earth with their chest they have some kind of economic ingenuity.

Your father isn't here to pay. My father isn't here to collect. But I'm here to collect and you're here to pay. -- El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X); November 23, 1964, Paris, France; By Any Means Necessary, New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970, p. 123]

When we further examine the degree regarding how the United States has benefited from the transportation of human cargo during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, it becomes apparent that tremendous benefits were gained by the amount of capital produced from this exercise in human torment. In addition, the cultivation and harvesting of cotton by enslaved Africans established the economic base for America’s imperial society.

In 1793 with the invention of the Whitney's cotton gin, the economic base for slavery was created, and cotton became the dominant Southern crop. Cotton became more important economically than tobacco, rice, and sugar. Cotton's huge profit margins caused plantation owners to buy more slaves and more land to take advantage of the economic potential.

Statistical facts:

1. By 1800, 18 million lbs. of cotton was exported from America valued at five million dollars ($5,000,000), 7% of total exports.

2. By 1830, 300 million lbs. of cotton was exported from America valued at thirty million dollars ($30,000,000), 41% of total exports.

3. By 1860, 1,700 million lbs. of cotton was exported from America valued at hundred ninety one million dollars ($191,000,000), 57% of total exports.

4. By 1860, 80% of the world's cotton came from the American South. Most went to factories in England. 

Source: The Peculiar Institution of Slavery

The figures above clearly articulates that the cotton planted, harvested, and picked by Africans held as slaves in America was 57% percent of the total export by 1860. The cotton grown and picked by Africans gave America an annual GDP of one hundred ninety one million ($191,000,000) dollars during this time in history.

America continues to be a great nation within her own right. However, we cannot separate America’s greatness from the process that made her great. America was made great (strong) through the unpaid labor (slavery) and transportation of human cargo during the Trans Atlantic Slave trade. This epoch in time, not only gave America the ability to become vibrant, but made the industrial revolution possible. -- M. Quinn, Author ‘2004

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Critical Dates in America's Colonial History

1619: Sir John Hawkins transported the first human cargo "Africans" to the New World, “America”.

1669: Three slave ships enter Charleston, SC to exchange information on successful enslavement techniques.

1770: Africans comprise 40% of the population in Maryland and Virginia.

1776: Declaration of Independence is written.

1787: The Constitutional Convention begins on May 25, in Philadelphia. Fifty-five representatives attend and begin drafting the Constitution. On September 17, 1787, the convention comes to a close as the representatives sign the Constitution.

1788: The Constitution becomes the law of the land after New Hampshire becomes the ninth and last state required to approve it.

1865: Slavery is abolished within the United States (except for the 13th Amendment).

Amendment XIII - US Constitution

1965: The Voting Rights Act is signed - However, according to the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution passed in February ‘1869, and ratified in February ‘1870 - Black Americans should have had the legal right to vote, and received the necessary protections under America’s Constitutional laws in the late 1800’s.

Amendment XV - US Constitution

Slavery in the United States within the thirteen American colonies began in 1619, and ended around 1865. This time frame does not include the sufferings of Black folk during the Jim Crow era, in addition to the subjective racism still so prevalent in today’s society. It becomes readily apparent that the enslavement of Africans was in blatant violation of countless "American Laws" from the "Declaration of Independence" to the "Constitution of the United States" during the period of time from 1776 to 1865.

If the founding fathers of America were true to the words enclosed within the Declaration of Independence during its drafting; the "Trans Atlantic Slave Trade" should have ended in 1776 with the final proclamation that; We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence

Nevertheless, at the same time that the Declaration of Independence was being written, Thomas Jefferson and many of the other founding fathers owned slaves. This reeks of duplicity. It is time for the United States of America to reveal its moral face, and apply the three “R” rule to an extremely long lasting and systemic problem.

                                R = Repent R = Rectify R = Recompense

Lastly, in this day of social unrest and moral impropriety it is imperative for America to take a moral stand, and demonstrate the moral virtues that she so vehemently holds to rest of the world too. It is likewise critically important, that African Americans and all people under the respective umbrella of United States of America, arm themselves with the knowledge of Congressman Conyers, Jr. proposed Bill H.R. 40 - so that we as a nation may reconcile the long lasting and systemic conundrum of the racist practices and behaviors of Americas past and present, and correct them once and for all.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

M. Quinn is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer specializing in social, historical and political analysis, and commentary.

Originally published: May 27, 2005 / Revised and reprinted: 2-Nov-05

posted 20 January 2005

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Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Ancient African Nations

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