Spero News

UN demands reparations for slave descendents
 
Monday, February 01, 2016
by Martin Barillas
 
The daughter of famed Marxist intellectual Frantz Fanon joined a United Nations working group that recommended that the United States should consider paying out reparations to the descendents of slaves. Chaired by Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, the “Experts on People of African Descent” called on the U.S. to establish also a national human rights commission while publicly acknowledging that the Transatlantic Slave Trade prior to the 1860s Civil War was a crime against humanity.
 
The same group came in 2010 and came to the same conclusions. A report is due in September.
 
Mireille Fanon Mendes-France
 
Frantz Fanon was the author of 'The Wretched of the Earth': basic reading in African studies and in Marxist circles. He is considered to be an expert on the psychology of colonialism. His daughter, Mireille, chairs the Frantz Fanon Foundation.
 
The group conducted a so-called fact-finding mission and met with representatives of the African-American community in several cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Jackson (Mississippi), New York, and Washington DC. At the end of their visit, a statement released by the group stated that it is “extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African Americans.”
 
 
Chairwoman Fanon Mendes-France compared recent incidents of alleged police brutality against the black community to Jim Crow-era racial violence. She said, “The colonial history, the legacy of enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism, and racial inequality in the US remains a serious challenge as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent. Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror lynchings in the past. Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
 
An initial report by the working group wrote approvingly of Obamacare, "which has allowed 2.3 million African American adults to gain medical health insurance." It also approved of developments on the state level. Among them were the abolition of the death penalty in three states since their last visit. The group also applauded:
 
New York's prohibition on employers from asking about criminal history until an employee is hired, and the issuance of municipal identification cards for illegal immigrants. In Chicago, the group welcomed "steps taken to combat the home foreclosure crisis that had especially impacted African Americans. We also welcome the measures taken by the mayor {Ed. note: Rahm Emanuel (D)} to foster accountability in the police department following the Laquan McDonald’s case."
 
Sabelo Gumedze of South Africa, a member of the group, said “It’s very easy in the United States for African Americans to be imprisoned, and that was very concerning.”
The working group also found it unacceptable that there is no “national system to track killings committed by law enforcement officials.” The group also noted that the war on drugs has “led to mass incarceration that is compared to enslavement, due to exploitation and dehumanization of African-Americans.” The group also denounced the so-called school to prison pipeline.
 
Leftists and black nationalists have long called for reparations, harking back to unofficial promises made to manumitted slaves of “40 acres and a mule” in the 1860s. President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders have all come out against reparations. Sanders, for example, has said that paying out reparations would be “divisive,” and suggested that improvements to infrastructure and fully employment and free college education are better alternatives. 
 
Writers and activists such as Ta-Nehisi Coates – the son of a Black Panther – have called for reparations as a way to make up for abuses such as segregation, civil rights abuse, and red-lining, not only in the Deep South but in places like Chicago too.
 


Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.


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