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You know that I think about this issue a lot, and from a variety of angles. This just came to me and I'm curious about your thoughts. MBM

If the U.S. were to ever acknowledge a debt to slave descendents, would it also - by definition - have to acknowledge that same debt to poor and working class whites?

I argue that the strongest case for reparations is on the issue of non-payment of wages. If that were won, would poor whites have a case by, in essence, arguing the other side of slave reparations coin? Could they argue that the wages that didn't go to slaves, but that were earned, should actually have gone to them. Think about where many poor and working class families would be had they be given the opportunity to provide the labor that slaveholders sought to avoid by utilizing slave labor over many many generations. Through slavery, poor/working class whites were denied the opportunity to earn a decent living. Slavery suppressed their earning opportunities and kept them in poverty while rich whites got richer. Do they have a case? If so, what impact does that have on our case? Does it weaken our case? Could it stregthen it?

Your thoughts?


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Poverty of others is not a fiat of the administration, the management, of slavery.

Reparations only gets complicated when issues than pay-for-work get put on the table.

Reparations is about money, and the coercion of labor without pay.

Th poverty of others, outside of slavery, was not a consequence of slavery.

Many of our ancestors were killed because their enslavement was seen as denying them the opportunity to work.

The Irish Riots in New York City in the mid-1800s was a consequence of belief. Slaves perceived as 'scabs' infringing on someone's 'right to work'.

If that is arrogance, what is believing they were right?


Jim Chester
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:

Reparations is about money, and the coercion of labor without pay.

Th poverty of others, outside of slavery, was not a consequence of slavery.

Sorry, I didn't communicate the point well enough. It's not just that poverty exists, its that because America utilized slavery, it denied poor and working class whites the opportunity to feed their families, earn income, and build wealth.

Absent slavery there still would have been an American economy. America would have had to pay the poor and working class folks here. If we can acknowledge a connectivity between the wrong committed to slaves and their descendents today, is it also not appropriate to acknowledge the link between those oppressed (denied employment) who were white and poor? That's my question. .

If reparations for slave descendents are granted then that indicates that a financial "wrong" occurred. Acknowledging this "wrong" would seem to expose this other side of that same coin as well - how slavery impacted those who would have been employed were it not for slavery.

Just looking to explore the point . . .
To quantify it, if slave reparations are awarded in the amount of, say, $50 trillion - representing the unpaid wages from the slavery era compounded with interest, couldn't poor/working class whites also make a claim for that amount since they would have been the ones to earn those wages had not slaves been imported to do "their" jobs?

I'm trying to explore what others think about the point. Is it valid and logical? As well, I'm interested in the implications of this. Does acknowledging this point hurt our reparations effort? Could it help it? Does it impact it at all?
My first reaction remains, 'No.'

The Colonies never established a viable economy without slavery. The forced labor created by slavery enabled the creation and maintenance of the cash crops of the agrarian economy that sustained 'The Colonies'.

You will recall the economy of The Colonies, from the early 1500s to early 1600s, was hunting and trapping. Furs of various kinds was the cash crop.

Slavery enabled all of the European Colonies in the Western Hemisphere.

All the 'poor 'whites' you pose as being 'denied' work VOLUNTARILY came to an economy that was dependent on free labor.

To argue that free labor denied opportunity to work for pay turns logic on its head.

A system that is dependent on free labor is now suppose to be vehicle to support paid laborers ??

Mr Spock would say, 'That is illogical.'

So do I.

We don't owe European-Americans a dime.

That includes any reparations that would be awarded for the free labor of our forebearers.

Making such an acknowledgment not only hurts our argument for reparations, it invalidates our (implicit) claim of contract.

Such an argument says the forced contract for free labor was directly exclusionary to a population that available to the same work for the same pay.

There was no one 'standing in line' for jobs of our forebearers.

I repeat.

We don't owe European-Americans a dime.

By any rationale.


Jim Chester

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