Atonement and Forgiveness: A New Model for Black Reparations

By Roy L. Brooks | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first stage it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self-evident.

SAYING ATTRIBUTED TO THE GERMAN PHILOSOPHER ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER(1788–1860)

When a government commits an atrocity against an innocent people, it has, at the very least, a moral obligation to apologize and to make that apology believable by doing something tangible called a “reparation. ” The government of the United States committed atrocities against black Americans for two and one-quarter centuries in the form of chattel slavery and for an additional one hundred years in the form of Jim Crow— what Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer refer to as “a law-enforced racial caste system” 1—and it has not even tendered an apology for either. The U. S. government should, in fact, atone— that is, both apologize and provide reparations—for racial slavery and apartheid. Saying “I'm sorry” just isn't enough. 2

Atonement would give our government moral credibility and direction through the fog that often engulfs contemporary racial matters. Black Americans, like any self-respecting people, can never forgive or fully trust our government on racial matters until it signals a clear understanding of the magnitude of the atrocities it committed against an innocent people. The past is the future. Atonement places the matter of forgiveness on the table. Forgiveness is black America's (the victim's) side of racial reconciliation. Atonement is served on the victim as a kind of civic subpoena. Acceptance is required to seal the deal, to make racial reconciliation pos-

-ix-

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Atonement and Forgiveness: A New Model for Black Reparations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1 - The Purpose and History of the Black Redress Movement 1
  • Chapter 2 - Harms to Slaves and Free Blacks 20
  • Chapter 3 - Harms to Descendants 36
  • Chapter 4 - The Tort Model 98
  • Chapter 5 - The Atonement Model 141
  • Chapter 6 - Opposing Arguments 180
  • Epilogue 207
  • Appendix 1 - Selected List of Other Atrocities 213
  • Appendix 2 - Summary of the Negotiations That Led to Germany's Foundation Law 218
  • Notes 221
  • Selected Bibliography 273
  • Cases 299
  • Statutes 303
  • Index 307
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