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Gabfest: 6/18/2016

So what’s up with reparations?  Well…imagine you worked for a company for a long time and then found out they hadn’t paid you what you should have received.  What would you do?  Probably sue them for back pay, right?  Now imagine you worked for someone for a few hundred years…and got paid NOTHING, despite working hard every day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year.  Wouldn’t you sue for back pay?  That’s what reparations is all about.  African American slaves worked for centuries with no pay (and then worked under Jim Crow for another century at very low pay) and during that time British and American capitalism prospered as it industrialized based on cheap cotton used to make clothes to sell to the world.  And who grew and harvested the cotton?  African American slaves of course.

So now the question is:  Should the descendants of African American slaves be paid some portion of the wages their ancestors were cheated out of through slavery?  We will discuss the politics, morality, and economics of this issue.  We will send out some suggested reading materials to enrich the conversation, but you can get started with Ta’nehisi Coates magisterial Atlantic article “The Case for Reparations” at

Thought of the day:  Justice delayed is justice denied.

Jeff Horton