We need the president to say to us:
On Behalf of the United States of America, We apologize to all its African American People upon whose backs this country was built for free. We allowed you to be brutalized and systematically discriminated against by creating and implementing de jure segregation. It was a crime against humanity and a crime according to our constitution. We had a flagrant disregard of your rights and humanity. For this, we are truly sorry. For your lives do matter. Black lives do matter to all of us as you are one of us. We owe you our thanks.”
That would be a start. Then there is the idea of what is the cost of that? How do you quantify de jure segregation? Here I’d just like to say to those of you who think you are white and think you’re a target. This is not up to you, though you were complicit. You were indeed benefactors but also victims of our oppressors. We don’t want your stuff, so put your guns away. We want restitution from the the wealthy who have profited off our backs. The segregationists that were placed in the HUD office during the new deal by FDR, the slave patrols that were instigated and allowed by the same government that was supposed to protect us. We want restitution from Boeing who wouldn’t allow us to live in housing that he built for his workers. We want restitution for Levitt town where a wealthy black contractor couldn’t buy a house where he was supplying labor and materials. We want restitution from the mortgage brokers and bankers who contributed to redlining. We want restitution from the Ford Company who would not let us live in company housing near their factories so we had to commute miles and miles, something that was impossible to do because we weren’t allowed to buy cars at a reasonable rate and we couldn’t travel openly. We want restitution from the unions that excluded us from working. We want restitution from the baseball teams that excluded us from playing baseball. We want restitution from the money lenders and those who targeted us with impossible loans for which we could not repay. These are the people who owe us money. We want restitution from the realtors who corralled us into neighborhoods when we could afford to live wherever we wanted to. We want restitution from the cotton, indigo, and tobacco plantations, from the sugar cane fields, the orange groves, the farms where we were sharecroppers, from those who worked us to death in the fields. We want restitution from the hospitals that wouldn’t allow our doctors to work, the educational facilities that wouldn’t allow us to teach, and the laboratories that wouldn’t allow nor recognize our work. These institutions owe us.
I’d say a good start would be free education for all those who want it, the forgiveness of our student loans to those who already have gotten it, and some property to the descendants of those freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America back in 1865. That can be tracked.
For the property value owed, let’s go back to 1705 to a law passed by Virginia’s ruling class as a result of a rebellion between blacks and indentured servants. After having proclaimed that all white men were superior to black, the ruling class went on to offer their social (but white) inferiors a number of benefits previously denied them. This law required that masters provide white servants whose indenture time was up with ten bushels of corn, thirty shillings, a gun, and 50 acres of land. Perhaps we could start with something like that. See A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present by Howard Zinn.
That should make some amends. Then maybe we can forgive you and not have to kneel when the National Anthem is sung. And perhaps, maybe then, we’ll really feel like the Americans we know we are, for we do love this country. We fight for it, defend and criticize it every chance we get. It is ours to do so as well.