By The SoulBrother
What would do $653,061? Be debt-free? Buy a house? Buy Momma and Daddy a house? No. They are getting their own $653,061 check. Set up a college fund for your children? Take a moment to think of all the possibilities and opportunities One and a half million dollars could do for you and your family.
What did you come up with? Before you walk to the corner store or jump in your car to play the “numbers”, buy a scratch off, or enter the Powerball drawing think about this. The United States government owes you using today’s dollars, $653,061. Let’s use the government’s logic and round up just like the I.R.S says when you are filing taxes, so that would be $653,061.
Before you get all worked up, let’s go back in time for a second-back in time to January 12, 1865. Major General William Tecumseh Sherman and Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War Edwin McMasters Stanton met with approximately 20 black community leaders in Savannah, GA after General Sherman’s infamous march to the sea. Sherman and Stanton communicated to President Abraham Lincoln the outcome of the meeting and four days later, on January 16, 1865 Special Field Order No. 15 was issued.
Special Field Order No. 15 confiscated from the Confederacy the coastline lands from Charleston, SC to the St. John’s River in Florida plus Georgia’s Sea Islands and mainland thirty miles from the coast. Roughly 400,000 acres of land was to be bestowed upon newly freed slave families in parcels no larger than 40 acres. This was not an altruistic or philanthropic gesture; the larger political goal was to destroy the South’s slaveholder’s power. As our newly freed ancestors flooded into the area (approximately 40,000 out of 4 million enslaved in the U.S. at that time) to take advantage of the order, Sherman later ordered that the Union army would lend our ancestors mules. Our ancestors were permitted and protected by the Union army to set up our own towns and municipalities under supervision of the Freedmen’s Bureau.
After President Lincoln’s assassination later that year, Andrew Johnson his successor was sympathetic to the South and issued pardons to the Confederates. In doing so, he also returned the confiscated property to those who committed treason by rebelling against the United States. The United States therefore paid reparations to the slaveholders and not the enslaved!
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. figured that if the government was to honor the promise of 40 acres and a mule (using payment of $20 weekly from the inception of US slavery roughly from the late 1700’s for approximately 4 million slaves at the time of the issuance of Special Field Order No.15) would total $800 billion dollars. Figuring in today’s dollars using the same method of calculation the value would increase to $6.4 trillion dollars. That’s 6-4 followed by twelve zero’s!
The case of reparations has been made time and time again. The former West Germany and Israel agreed in 1952 for West Germany to compensate Israel for the persecution, theft of property, slave labor, and murder of Jews by the Nazis during World War II. West Germany paid 3 billion Marks to Israel over the course of the next 14 years. In today’s US dollars that is $1,746,929,739! Israel used the funds to build their infrastructure amongst other items.
If every African-American family received a one-time disbursement (according to the U.S. Census Bureau there’s 9.8 million Black families in America) that would be a $653,061 check using Special Order No. 15 guidelines of “Forty Acres and a Mule.”
The impact to Black America would be enormous. Imagine a lump sum disbursement or even a disbursement over a five or ten year period… Overnight the pronounced income inequality African-Americans face would be significantly diminished. The economy of the United States would receive a “stimulus” from consumer purchasing albeit this could be temporary. From a larger perspective African-Americans would have the opportunity to create sustained generational wealth. There would be some who will become the Black Nelson Rockefeller’s of their generation. They would build businesses; hire people and create the “American dream” for others. Entrepreneurship has always been in the soul of African-Americans. Instead of relying on a paycheck we can create our own paychecks en masse across America for ourselves. The “hood” erstwhile “ghettos” of Black America would see investment not from persons who don’t know where the “hood” is or is only concerned about their own wallets but from the people who matter the residents who live there. Those “hoods” would become “Wall Streets” across America. They would generate commerce and trade that just don’t help the neighborhood but the state and the nation-another industrial revolution across America reinforcing and feeding sustained growth and global leadership of America. Our neighborhoods would be able to re-invest our capital and provide better educational opportunities, lower our unemployment rate, eliminate food deserts (supermarket chains love thriving communities), lower crime and instances of violence amongst each other. Our neighborhoods would replace despair with hope.
Of course, such a payout would not be without any strings attached. Maybe, forfeiting future social security payments? Would you care about that? With $653,061 anyone should be able to build a nest egg. Possibly imposing a condition of having at least 1 parent who can trace their lineage back to slavery? That would eliminate some-not many. Maybe, instead of a lump sum payout, a payout made over time to reduce stress on the treasury. Who would decline $65,306? With that amount over a ten year disbursement period would still be good. It would allow persons with no training to get some and still live. If you are working for a living wouldn’t an extra $65,000 tax free per year for 10 years be nice?
Alas, money equals power and that maybe the largest impediment to receiving such a payment now and historically is just that-the relinquishment of power by the currently perceived majority. Reparations to African Americans for our ancestors forced bondage scare the soon to be minority current majority and their power structure because money is power and by relinquishing the money they will be surrendering their power to the very people they fear.