The Case for African American Reparations

A Moral Debt: The Legacy of Slavery in the US

Al Jazeera

Film Review

In this documentary, journalist James Gannon, a descendant of slave owner and confederate general Robert E Lee, investigates the legacy enslavement has bequeathed the descendants of slaves

Gannon interviews a number of Black historians, scholars and activists who help him understand the immense economic disadvantage descendants of slaves have faced since the end of the Civil War. Not only did southern Blacks face decades of Jim Crow laws that allowed them to be arbitrarily imprisoned and re-enslaved, but vibrant Black communities in the North were routinely destroyed by white race riots in the first half of the 20th century and “urban development” schemes after World War II. African American communities were also deliberately excluded (referred to as “redlining”) from federal mortgage guarantee programs that enabled white families to acquire wealth via home ownership.

As the result of his investigation, the journalist has become a strong advocate of the African American reparations movement. Scholars estimate descendants of slaves are owed approximately $17 trillion. This includes the wealth they created as chattel and Jim Crow slaves, the value of black businesses destroyed by white terrorism and urban development and the monetary disadvantage they experienced due to exclusion from federal mortgage subsidy programs.

22 thoughts on “The Case for African American Reparations

    • Great quote, nomad. Thanks for sharing. I’m a great admirer of the Black Agenda Report, one of the few genuine left voices left. I think there’s no question that slavery provided the capital accumulation necessary to make modern capitalism possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. If we give reparations to black Americans, what about the Irish Americans? Many Irish were kidnapped and taken to America, especially young children, and put into slavery. Some people think that they were released from slaver after 7 yrs, unlike black slaves, but that isn’t true. The Irish were kept for the rest of their lives, just like the black slaves. How is this different from what black Americans went through? And what about reparations to the Japanese who were interned during WW2 and had their homes, land and businesses taken from all of them.


    • “Acting to redress what many Americans now regard as a historic injustice, the Senate today voted overwhelmingly to give $20,000 and an apology to each of the Japanese-Americans who were driven from their homes and sent to internment camps in World War II.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • All well and good but $20,000 doesnt go very far these days. The Japanese were farmers and many, if not most owned land which today would be worth quite a bit. But the families no longer have land – land which, today, would be worth quite a bit of wealth. $20,000 doesnt begin to replace it but at least it is something.


  2. Dr. Bramhall, thank you for posting this. I have addressed this issue on my blog as well. Those of us who are descendants of slaves can expect no reparations. How anyone can think that after ALL this time, those who are descended from those who dragged our ancestors here, would do the right thing, is beyond comprehending. The hatred displayed towards us is off the scale. No other group is more hated in Amerikkka than we are and we are the ONLY group who did not come here willingly despite what anyone else says to the contrary. Not to mention the fact that no other group was considered to be three-fifths human. Only slaves and their descendants were given that dubious distinction and so to compare our plight to some Irish indentured servants is absolutely ludicrous. The plight of those who look like me is like no other group in Amerikkka and for anyone to say otherwise would be an outrageous lie!


    • Shelby, I’ve done my research. The Irish were not just indentured servants, they were SLAVES. they were not released after 7 yrs and they were kidnapped off the streets of Ireland and forced here, just like your ancestors. I am of Irish descent and this is what happened to my ancestors. For you to say otherwise is an uninformed stance and after I explained all of this in clear terms, your position is simply insulting. You and your ancestors are NOT the only victims here. You seem to have no idea about the history of the Irish and are speaking from ignorance.


      • Emmett, I’m not sure if you watched the film, but I think maybe you should watch it again because I think you missed the point. I also think you miss the point of Shelby’s comments. The point here is that the systematic disenfranchisement of African Americans didn’t end with slavery – it continues to the present day, especially in the US criminal justice system. While you may have studied the history of our ancestors (I’m also of Irish descent), you can’t really argue about it being comparable to that of American Africans without doing an equal amount of research into their situation.

        Ever since slavery ended, Americans have systematically used skin color to deny African Americans access to education, employment, housing, wealth creation and access to fair treatment in our criminal justice system. After watching the film, I would highly recommend you read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. That is, if you really want people to take your views seriously.

        Capitalism is a very cruel system that is growing even crueler by the day. We all suffer the effects of capitalism in innumerable ways. No one would wish to minimize what you may have suffered under capitalism, Emmett. But I don’t see what we stand to gain by minimizing the suffering of other people.

        Liked by 2 people

        • “Ever since slavery ended …” Hyperbole, not much of this recently.
          “deny … access to fair treatment in criminal justice system …” govrnment, not capitalism
          “We all suffer the effects of capitalism in innumerable ways …” we shouldn’t minimize the benefits of the technology, services, and infrastructure of an economy that works and that lifted hundreds of millions out of 3rd world poverty into new middle classes. Suffering has been minimized.


    • Here is an article, detailing the Irish as slaves in America. It is documented. And it didn’t end in 1865. In America, the Irish were considered lower than blacks. There were signs saying “No Irish need apply”. My dad was born in 1919 and was Irish, he knew about the severe discrimination against the Irish which he also suffered.


      • The title of the article is:

        “The Case for African American Reparations”

        Where does it mention anything about the Irish? If Dr. Bramhall chooses to post an article about Irish indentured servants, then there you go, throw sixteen fits and post your links, but that is not what this post was about and so I am not the only ‘ignorant’ one here if you want to resort to name calling. Better yet, why don’t you start up a blog and get to blogging about what you suspect is the unfair treatment of the Irish who came to America. Why don’t you call for the necessity for reparations for the Irish? You’d rather get into a “who suffered more, the Irish or African slaves?” argument with me. That does no one any good. However, I refuse to stand idly by while you turn a blog about reparations for African Americans into an argument for reparations for the Irish. The Irish are not the focal point of this blog, which you seem unable to comprehend. As usual, when someone posts anything about Black folks, whites always roar up and attempt to depict themselves as the more ‘put upon’ group that ever existed. No other group will EVER suffer more than whites if whites have anything to say about it and that is a fact. So, stir shit up as much as you like. I am done with this.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I dont believe in reparations to anyone for things that happened centuries ago. I am not the one calling for reparations. I was trying to make a point – one which, sadly, you seem unable to at least entertain. Do you often insult people when you don’t like what they say? Just wondering.


          • Your words: “If we give reparations to black Americans, what about the Irish Americans?” and “And what about reparations to the Japanese who were interned during WW2 and had their homes, land and businesses taken from all of them.” and “All well and good but $20,000 doesnt go very far these days” and “$20,000 doesnt begin to replace it but at least it is something.”

            So, you are indeed, absolutely fine with anybody else other than African Americans receiving reparations and so don’t now turn around and state that “I don’t believe in reparations to anyone for things that happened centuries ago. I am not the one calling for reparations.” Yes you did. You wondered why the Japanese had received no reparations and then upon learning the fact that they did, you belittled the amount they received. Said “at least it was something.”

            Which is it? Are you for reparations or not? Or is it just for those who are not African American? That’s the whole issue with you. As far as African Americans are concerned, what need have they to receive reparations seeing as how slavery is a thing of the past since according to you, it all happened “centuries ago.” Newsflash, African Americans are still being impacted by what occurred centuries ago, but since your ‘studies’ don’t include our history, why should you consider the fact that African Americans have never made any gains in this shithole called America? You don’t and you won’t but that does not negate the facts. And if you feel insulted, that’s your problem. I was in the process of posting a comment on this blog but saw your comment in which you incorrectly stated that the Japanese received no reparations for them having been placed in internment camps. You then took umbrage with my comment and the mud slinging began. If you cannot take the heat, then leave the kitchen.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. ‘A SPURIOUS article, first published in 2008, claims that an “Irish slave trade” was initiated in 1612 and abolished in 1839. It states that “Irish slaves” were treated worse than African slaves.

    This article, which has been shared online at least one million times, is underpinned by a conspiracy theory which claims that “biased” historians are refusing to call indentured servants “slaves” for political reasons.

    The fallout has been predictable. The myth is now a favoured derailment tactic for people who wish to shut down conversations about race and slavery. Many African Americans attest to encountering this myth, in person and online.’

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Liberation Chief and commented:
    There’s plenty to discuss on this issue; America owes the descendants of slaves a huge debt & it must seek to address this country’s original sin. Not only will this close the racial wealth gap, but it will also make it’s citizens that built this country whole.


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