Obama Giving Black Farmers $1.25B in Reparations

Sunday, 21 Feb 2010 09:55 PM

By Theodore Kettle

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Black farmers – possibly over 70,000 of them – will get cash payments and debt relief from the federal government totaling $1.25 billion, in reparation for alleged racial discrimination suffered under the Department of Agriculture’s loan programs, the Obama Administration has agreed.

The president announced the deal on Thursday, applauding Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder for “bringing these long-ignored claims of African American farmers to a rightful conclusion.”

The Washington Post called the settlement “part of a wider effort by Obama and senior officials to dispense with lawsuits stemming from America’s checkered civil rights legacy.”

House Majority Whip and Congressional Black Caucus member James Clyburn cheered the deal. “History has taught us to never give up when fighting for what is right,” he said in a statement. “What happened to these black farmers was wrong, and we now have the opportunity to make it right.”

Clyburn said, “I thank President Obama for his leadership on this issue” adding that “I especially want to congratulate my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus for keeping the focus on the plight of black farmers.”

Congress, as well as a federal judge, will have to approve the deal. The Justice Department told the Post that claims up to $50,000 will be able to be made to the government through a streamlined process, while larger claims will require more detail in the evidence a victim provides of government discrimination. The charges made by thousands of black farmers, with culpability finally accepted by Washington, accuse the USDA of decades of racist practices.

That $1.25 billion is only a fraction, however, of the sum that the reparations movement has called for to compensate for all the injustices committed against blacks in American history.

The National Legal and Policy Center some years ago examined slave reparations activism and found one proponent calling for the federal government “to pay $500,000 to every slave descendant,” which would total “more than $15 trillion and require a surtax of roughly $50,000 on each non-African American man, woman and child in this country (the median family income is not even that high).”

Another estimate from a 1990s Harper’s magazine article calculated that reparations would cost $97 trillion – based on 222,505,049 hours of forced labor between 1619 and 1865, plus 6% compounded interest.

Pointing to “the staggering breadth of America’s crime against us,” TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson in his book, “The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks,” argued that “Solutions must be tailored to the scope of the crime in a way that would make the victim whole. In this case, the psychic and economic injury is enormous, multidimensional and long-running. Thus must be America’s restitution to blacks for the damage done.”

According to the reparations mindset, therefore, President Obama’s $1.25 billion for 70,000-plus black farmers is hardly even a beginning.

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