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The Case For Reparations: 40 Acres and a Mule Would Cost America at Least $6.4 Trillion Today

 

United States Slave Trade

United States Slave Trade

By David A. Love

If you were to guess how much the United States owes Black people in economic damages for slavery, how much would it be?

In the part of the “I Have A Dream” speech that no one seems to remember, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared: “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’”

While some people would conclude that no dollar amount can make up for the centuries that Black people were kidnapped, enslaved and forced to work without pay, the fact remains that our misfortune made America wealthy. Slavery built the system of U.S. capitalism. Moreover, some people have estimated what the nation actually owes Black people.

Source: yesmagazine.org By: Tracy Loeffelholz DunnJeff Neumann

Source: yesmagazine.org
By: Tracy Loeffelholz DunnJeff Neumann

YES! magazine published a fascinating infographic that illuminates the subject of reparations. It begins with a calculation that King made if America would stand by its promise of 40 acres and a mule, which is $20 a week since the late 1700s for 4 million slaves. The total was $800 billion, which in today’s dollars is $6.4 trillion.
Just to put it in perspective, this year’s federal budget is projected at $3.9 trillion. U.S. gross domestic product in 2014 was $17.4 trillion. So, this sounds like a significant deal of money, except for the fact that this is a conservative estimate. Other calculations are far higher.

For example, as the infographic shows, the National Legal and Policy Center placed reparations at $15 trillion, which would involve paying $500,000 to every slave descendant.

Time magazine columnist Jack White estimated that Blacks are owed $24 trillion, which amounts to unpaid wages denied to 10 million slaves, doubled for pain and suffering with interest.

Further, Dr. Denis G. Rancourt, a former physics professor at the University of Ottawa, determined the minimum amount of reparations is $59.2 trillion. He calculated that value of the stolen labor was $3.7 trillion, or 2 million slaves working 10 hours a day, 365 days a year for 70 years (between 1790 and 1860) at a rate of $7.25 an hour. Applying a 2 percent interest rate compounded annually, he reached the $59.2 trillion figure.

Without question, there is a strong case for reparations. The institution of slavery created the economic basis for modern capitalism and turned the U.S. into the wealthiest nation in the world. New York was built on cotton — the crop that dominated the international markets in the 1800s — as the city collected 40 cents of every dollar earned in the cotton trade, transforming it into a financial center. Moreover, at the start of the Civil War, slaves were worth 48 percent of the wealth of the South, more than all of the banks, factories and railroads in the country combined.

Meanwhile, the government paid reparations to slave owners, but not to Black people themselves. Rather, America maintained a convict lease system that swept up Black men and created a new form of slavery in the Southern prisons. The Black Codes were designed to impede Black progress and keep whites ahead of the game through discriminatory practices. Special fees for Black people discouraged us from owning businesses, and high interest rates hindered the building of Black wealth. In addition, segregation and racist policies have prevented Black people from benefiting from government programs that were made available to whites. As a result, the Black share of national wealth changed very little between 1865 (0.5 percent) and 1990 (1.0 percent), with very little for us to pass down to future generations. In addition, the wealth gap between Blacks and whites has not changed since 1970. Policies have kept Black people underwater and whites afloat and thriving — on purpose.

This is why reparations make so much sense, and this is what white privilege looks like. True racism exists not solely in the offensive remarks and epithets hurled by individual whites at Black people on a daily basis, but more importantly in the systems of oppression that stack the deck and rig the game. Whites mistakenly believe that racism is a thing of the past, and that slavery is something that occurred long ago from which they derive no benefit. However, there is a continuum of racial discrimination that extends from slavery times up until now, with mass incarceration and the war on drugs creating a new form of enslavement for Black people. White folks have inherited the wealth and privilege derived from free Black labor, which they willingly enjoy today. Similarly, Blacks have inherited, and continue to face the effects of this rigged game — which continues into the present day, even as we have struggled and resisted this system and attempted to build for themselves.

Every year since 1989, Rep. Jon Conyers (D-Michigan) has introduced H.R. 40, a bill which calls for a commission to study reparations. In April, the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), led by Dr. Ron Daniels, held an international conference in New York, with participants from 20 countries and throughout the diaspora discussing global reparations strategies.

As for estimating the price tag, this is one way to continue the discussion and bring home the gravity of the issue.

“They owe us a lot of money,” Dr. King said.

What people are saying

59 thoughts on “The Case For Reparations: 40 Acres and a Mule Would Cost America at Least $6.4 Trillion Today

  1. I don't believe the theory that it would 'cost' the US anything. The US dollar is nothing but fiat, monopoly money backed by nothing & it's printed at will. They could EASILY print up that fake money if for nothing else, the good faith gesture it would represent. But since they refuse to even DISCUSS the possibility seriously, that should tell black people that they feel a sense of entitlement to the only TRUE welfare that exists in the world today–global apartheid & white skin privilege. Another thing: John Conyers is controlled. He's had opportunities in the past (accordig to Black Agenda Report) to introduce the Reparation's bill for voting when democrats controlled both houses–and he failed to do so but then submitted it at times when repubs controlled both houses. He presumably should have known what climate would be the most favorable. So that indicates to me that he & congress has NO intention of allowing that bill to come up for a vote. If right after so called emancipation & the valiant effort by Callie House & her org to receive compensation/pensions for what was then stiLL LIVING former slaves–then the much used lie that now the US govt cannot do it b/c no living slaves exist. Has anybody ever explored the possibility of suing actual descendants of SLAVE OWNERS instead of the US govt?

  2. Randall Nix says:

    Three quarters of a MILLION WHITE BOYS slaughtered each other over the issue of slavery. That is seven hundred and fifty thousand lives lost, one for every five slaves. If you include the loss of arms, legs, eyes. it becomes One white casualty to free three black slaves.

    Don't you just love those photos of black people stomping on the very flag used by the anti-slavery armies who set them free in 1865?

  3. We already spent $22 trillion on the great society and it failed. We owe blacks nothing but the same opportunity as everyone else has.

  4. Reparations for the African Holocaust Petition:
    http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/10151.htm

  5. Reparations for the African Holocaust Petition:
    http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/10151.html

  6. Ralph Evans says:

    A few questions on your compensation formula..
    Will the cost of lives that were lost, family pain, suffering, and loss of income of those who died freeing the blacks to be deducted from that amount?
    Will victim compensation for the crimes committed against other races be deducted?
    Will an appropriate amount of this be charged directly to the "liberal leadership" which has kept the blacks confined to poverty and crime ridden ghettos be charged to them?
    Are you going to trace down the lineage of all slave owning blacks and send them a bill?
    Will those decedents of those blacks who rode with and fought alongside Nathan Bedford Forrest be charged as well?
    Will the cost of "the great society" be deducted?
    I didn't think so.

  7. Actually the malcontents were offered passage back to "Asfrica" post Civil war. Today the blacks actually owe the rest of us reparations for all the added costs of their criminal activity, including prisons, and police.

  8. They owe us a lot of money…. "/

  9. Most of the anti reparations arguments sound like people who are afraid of an equal society. What's wrong buddy? Afraid that blacks will move in you area and start doing business? Date you children? Swim in your pools? Scary huh? First they got the nerve to not be slaves. Then they want to vote in a white mans country. Then they voted a black man as the leader of this once beautiful country. Now they want to get what we said we would give them? What's wrong with you ni….I mean black people? I tell you what's wrong with us…..white fragility. Angry old white men that are scared of their own shadow. They sit at home hoping a black person would do something, anything that fiction channel Fox News says they do to them so they can get a chance to shoot. They cheer when in armed struggle black people get shot. They blame Obamacare for stormy weather. They think they are loosing their country. Well, they are loosing it. The next frontier is equality. And it won't be long.

  10. Rico D Pugh says:

    you sound stupid ass hell

  11. Rico D Pugh says:

    pay for what you started, seems like other races have been compensated, I am still trying figure out why Arabs dont pay taxes for years and just move family business in others names but african slaves descendents are to receive what was promised?

  12. Randall Nix says:

    Rico D Pugh -At least I'm not on the low end of the bell curve. If we factor in PTSD from civil wr vets, and family's widows and orphans , I bet for each slave freed one white person gave their all.

  13. David King says:

    THE GOD OF MUSIC

    OBAMA FOR THE WORLD should be the theme song for the movie SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU.

    If you agree, post a video of yourself singing the chorus one time, like & share.

    OBAMA FOR THE WORLD: http://youtu.be/2LBrM9bZE64

  14. They are not loosing their country, the country belongs to Afurakan people.

  15. Robert Tulloch We expect you to say that since it was your relatives or peers who made us work for free. Whites still wish to be free loaders, so who is suppose to get paid for all the labor my relatives did? Same opportunities, blacks have never been afforded that, the racist system did not allow it.

  16. The Civil War was not about freeing black people being held as slaves, it was about expanding slavery, the south threw the first blow that started the war, the north only fought back. Get that out of your head, go study what the war was about. Even if what you say is true, since when any country ever paid for people lost in a war. What you need to say is, we don't want to pay blacks, because we feel we deserved work for free for us, because we are white people.

  17. Your racist system is the reason behind blacks condition, including putting blacks in prison for no reason, and the others injustices. Whites cannot and will not see this picture, if you are a racist, you will never see any harm that your racist sytem did to blacks. Really whites are in no position to talk about reparations for blacks, that is why we haven't been paid all this time, we don't expect most whites to agree we are owed, and they don't.

  18. You whites need to stop talking this nonsense. The south wanted to expand slavery that is what caused the war, the south attacked first, after they felt seceding didn't help. Nothing will be deducted, we want every last penny we are owed for making a country for you ungrateful whites, if it wasn't for blacks you would still be living in Europe, you would not be liiving in the the powerful empire on the planet, that blacks built for whites by force and brutality.

  19. Randall Nix says:

    Nzingha Shabaka -Expanding slavery? Bunk. I don't recall the abolitionist Union armies trying to expand slavery! everywhere they conquered in the South, under the Union Flag, (the one blacks today tramp on) blacks were considered "contraband" and freed.

    Now, if we also factor all those white civilians killed on the High Plains by Indian attacks caused by Southern agent's agitation of the tribes we may even end up making it ONE WHITE CASUALTY for EVERY freed slave. Even Cherokee Stand Watie was a Confederate General raising hell down in the Indian Territories.

    Reparations were paid in WHITE BLOOD to free the slaves. Some Black Union soldiers also gave their lives, but it was mostly WHITE BLOOD spilled over freeing the slaves.

  20. It was not the armies, but the southen states wanted the federal government not to have that power, if a free state wanted to hold blacks as slaves, they did not want to have to go to the federal government, and it was not going to happen, they started the war, and they had planned to expand slavery had they won the war.

  21. Randall Nix says:

    Expand slavery to where? When the South left the Union they were only the slave states. Bleeding Kansas was a Free State. The Union immediately seized Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri to prevent them from joining the South.
    The ONLY way to expand was to take New Mexico and Arizona in which the South failed miserably.

  22. Donna Boyd says:

    When you count in the Black men, women, & children who were killed by lynchings; Black babies being cut from the mothers womb then stomped to death (abortion); the body parts cut off of Blacks after they were lynched (genitalia, ears, noses, fingers, etc.) & kept as souvenirs; Blacks were burned alive; Black men, women, & children were raped by the slave owners, the, overseers, & their families; Black babies/children fed to alligators alive (you can research for pics); Black successful communities destroyed by whites throughout history (MANY of them); the maiming of Black people during slavery, i.e. cut off hands, feet, whipped marks, brandings, women's breasts cut off, skin pulled out, etc. (Ebony's Black History books show these atrocities); as well as other killings, maimings, & other atrocities committed during this time against Black people, more money is owed/due to the descendants. This information can easily & visually be found in books & online.

  23. Donna Boyd says:

    When you count in the Black men, women, & children who were killed by lynchings; Black babies being cut from the mothers womb then stomped to death (abortion); the body parts cut off of Blacks after they were lynched (genitalia, ears, noses, fingers, etc.) & kept as souvenirs; Blacks were burned alive; Black men, women, & children were raped by the slave owners, the, overseers, & their families; Black babies/children fed to alligators alive (you can research for pics); Black successful communities destroyed by whites throughout history (MANY of them); the maiming of Black people during slavery, i.e. cut off hands, feet, whipped marks, brandings, women's breasts cut off, skin pulled out, etc. (Ebony's Black History books show these atrocities); as well as other killings, maimings, & other atrocities committed during this time against Black people, more money is owed/due to the descendants. This information can easily & visually be found in books & online.

  24. Randall Nix says:

    Owe for what! None of us were even born then. Reparations are no more owed for slavery than the gladiators can demand reparations from ROME. Can Irish Americans demand reparations for being forced into slavery as indentured servants hundreds of years ago, or even German Indentured servants?

    Remember, the FIRST SLAVE in the Colonies was a black man, OWNED by a black land owner. The Black owner went to court to demand his black indentured servant remain in Perpetual bondage.

  25. JoJo DaKid says:

    Its funny how whites cant properly defend the wrong doing of their ancestors, so all of they have a dumb attack out of no where!! Lol……You cant argue with ignorance.

  26. Annette Bee says:

    They fought to keep the union intact.

  27. Annette Bee says:

    The great society programs were created for poor whites in rural areas.

  28. White boys didn't slaughter each other over anything but their own vested interests. It was NEVER about us. It was about the right to OWN us and continue to amorally and financially profit from our sweat, blood and tears. That's why they went to war. And how many Africans DIED during the trans-atlantic slave trade, the subsequent 250 years of official slavery & the many lynchings that happened in this country? I for one don't give a DAMN about those few white boys who died during that period. With the exception of John Brown & his family.

  29. Did whites make all of these species arguments with the Jews when they were compensated? What about the Japanese? And their grievances had start & end dates. Blacks continual oppression is pervasive, ongoing and systemic. Also know that YOU will pay. Whether it be karmic or financial. That's a debt you will NEVER expunge. And again, the dollar is nothing but fiat money. It's printed at WILL so paying reparations that is DUE us wouldn't bankrupt this country. And again, the truth of white's sick, entitled and ultimately freeloading psyche can be clearly seen in the fact that Callie House headed a movement SOON after so called emancipation and she was aggressively shut down by the US govt–and at that time there WERE LIVING former slaves and the sorry ass US govt STILL DID NOT WANT TO PAY WHAT WAS OWED. Whites are great at projecting this welfare/get something for nothing image onto black people; but the TRUTH is: it is YOU has benefitted continually for CENTURIES off the stolen and unearned profits of OUR LABOR and talents. You are so used to leeching off of us, it's 1st nature to you. God forbid you actually had to depend on your own ingenuity and raw labor to prosper instead of milking black people and Mother Africa dry of her resources.

  30. Randall Nix says:

    I can give you a rundown for the major atrocities from the last 4000 years, and yet, NO ONE but blacks have demanded reparations from those who held them in bondage.
    I can show you burning for burning, branding, impaling, crucifixion, skinning alive from those 4000 years, yet NO ONE but blacks have whined about REPARATIONS.

    The Chinese in the US suffered the same fates as many blacks but you don't see them with their hands held out for the atrocities that they suffered. Even the Indians would kill a Chinaman on sight! They progressed on their own.

    As for lynchings, you are not the only ones who had that happen to you. Google THE GREAT HANGING AT GAINSVILLE TX in which 40 WHITE REPUBLICANS were hanged because they opposed slavery. Many other WHITE Republicans also suffered the same fate in other counties.
    http://www.greathanging1862.com/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Hanging_at_Gainesville

    As for another mass lynching, eleven Italians found NOT GUILTY met that fate in 1891 for murdering a policemen. Do you hear Italians demanding reparations? NO!
    http://files.usgwarchives.net/la/orleans/newspapers/00000077.txt

    Of the 5000 blacks claim were lynched, only about 3500 were black, the others lynched were 1500 WHITE REPUBLICANS who supported the black cause.

    You want others? How about the KKK organized by the defeated DEMOCRAT slave holders, to suppress and terrorize blacks.
    Or the RED SHIRTS and WHITE LEAGUE, often called the military arm of the DEMOCRAT Party, composed of former slave owners and were responsible for throwing the BLACKs and Republicans out of Southern politics.

    You are coming off to the public as just a bunch of GRIFTERS.

  31. There are no slaves alive today. No body on this page was ever a slave. 90% of all blacks alive and living in America today were born AFTER the end of slavery. Also, not 1 American ship sailied to Africa for the express purpose of transporting African Slaves. Any monetary claim should be addressed to the Middle Eastern slave merchants. Jews were the dominant merchants in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Stop blaming white people. In fact over 600,000 Americans died over abolishing slavery.

  32. Reparations are owed to us just as they have been paid to victims of the European Holocaust and their descendents. The Slavery Holocaust and Jim Crow lasted centuries in comparison to the European Holocaust which lasted roughly 11-13 years. Yet Europe has paid reparations to the victims and even the US has laid reparations to Holocaust survivors but the US won't pay reparations to descendants of slavery for what was done? That's just another example of how our society doesn't value African Americans or our lives. To anyone who does not believe reparations should be paid to us; I ask you do you feel the same way about European holocaust survivors and their descendants? It's believed that the temporary tragedy of their European Holocaust will effect them for centuries to come. So if roughly 13 years can effect them for centuries what has centuries done to us and our descendants?

  33. That's dumb.Reparations are owed to us just as they have been paid to victims of the European Holocaust and their descendents. The Slavery Holocaust and Jim Crow lasted centuries in comparison to the European Holocaust which lasted roughly 11-13 years. Yet Europe has paid reparations to the victims and even the US has laid reparations to Holocaust survivors but the US won't pay reparations to descendants of slavery for what was done? That's just another example of how our society doesn't value African Americans or our lives. To anyone who does not believe reparations should be paid to us; I ask you do you feel the same way about European holocaust survivors and their descendants? It's believed that the temporary tragedy of their European Holocaust will effect them for centuries to come. So if roughly 13 years can effect them for centuries what has centuries done to us and our descendants?

  34. Reparations are owed to us just as they have been paid to victims of the European Holocaust and their descendents. The Slavery Holocaust and Jim Crow lasted centuries in comparison to the European Holocaust which lasted roughly 11-13 years. Yet Europe has paid reparations to the victims and even the US has laid reparations to Holocaust survivors but the US won't pay reparations to descendants of slavery for what was done? That's just another example of how our society doesn't value African Americans or our lives. To anyone who does not believe reparations should be paid to us; I ask you do you feel the same way about European holocaust survivors and their descendants? It's believed that the temporary tragedy of their European Holocaust will effect them for centuries to come. So if roughly 13 years can effect them for centuries what has centuries done to us and our descendants?

  35. Reparations are owed to us just as they have been paid to victims of the European Holocaust and their descendents. The Slavery Holocaust and Jim Crow lasted centuries in comparison to the European Holocaust which lasted roughly 11-13 years. Yet Europe has paid reparations to the victims and even the US has paid reparations to Holocaust survivors but the US won't pay reparations to descendants of slavery for what was done? That's just another example of how our society doesn't value African Americans or our lives. To anyone who does not believe reparations should be paid to us; I ask you do you feel the same way about European holocaust survivors and their descendants? It's believed that the temporary tragedy of their European Holocaust will effect them for centuries to come. So if roughly 13 years can effect them for centuries what has centuries done to us and our descendants?

  36. Randall Nix says:

    European holocaust survivors are still alive today, and their property rights are still being litigated in the courts of Europe. Can YOU show me a FORMER SLAVE bought and paid for, here in the USA right now? I believe the last one died back in the early 1960s. he was brought here as a boy in the 1850s.

    Besides, why should WE pay for YOUR ancestor's victimization when it was Black chiefs in Africa who sold your ancestors the slave traders.

    And again, seven hundred fifty thousand WHITE boys who slaughtered each other over whether blacks would be slave or not. A MILLION AND A HALF TOTAL CASUALTIES.

    Like I've said earlier, the Chinese, Italians, Poles, Hungarians in the USA also suffered back then but you don't see them running around crying "Gimme! Gimme!" Only the blacks are doing that. Reparations have been paid for in BLOOD, arms, legs, eyes.

  37. Steve Grant says:

    Wonder how come they paid the fake jews reparation,even broke off other people land and give to them,saying they are choosen!wonder who really did the choosing and what were they choosen for,yet we afrikan who suffered at the hands of all the crakkkas including the so-called jew must not talk about our 400 year holocaust at the hands of these very murderous de-melinated mutant devils

  38. Not so. We are owed. No ifs and buts about. Pay what you owe free loaders.

  39. You wish, free loaders setting bad examples.

  40. Nzingha Shabaka You get nothing! Good day sir!

  41. Rich Holland says:

    My GG grand father came to America during the potato famine in Ireland, he was a poor sugar cane farmer, as was my great grand father and grand father, none of which owned a single slave, so I owe nothing to anyone.

  42. Trina Perry says:

    THEY want US to "Let it go…."

  43. Trina Perry says:

    THIS ISN'T GOING AWAY. I know. CAPS. Whatever, man.

  44. Robert Tulloch If by "great society" you mean affirmative action for so called minorities, White women, hijacked that by being considered a minority.

  45. No Jew is in a concentration camp today, but we still pay reparations to support Israel. Blacks living today had ancestors who were slaves. Jews were slave merchants in this country. But all White businesses profitted greatly, the major insurance companies like New York Life, that wrote policies on slaves, so owners could collect even if the slave were worked to death, and banks like Wachovia, Bank of America.

  46. Because White people have to protect ill gotten gains from what most humans would call a shameful past in this country.

  47. You can hardly spell, you imbecile! Why should anyone 'defend' anything to a moron like you?

  48. JoJo DaKid says:

    Anthony Locascio do me and many others a huge favor and DIE!! Please kill yourself. We would greatly appreciate it. You are a waste of life, space and energy.

  49. Anthony Locascio But here your inbred ass is..trying. And don't they TRAIN you trolls or do they just let you idiots wing it?

  50. Tim Beatty says:

    Where are the reparations for white people for having to put up with all the black criminals, race baiting, fatherless bastard kids, and voting democrat. We have been paying reparations in two ways. One is through the welfare system. 75% of black kids are on it. They are not doing their part by trying to be a good citizen. Two back door reparations through the banking system. Thats what these bailout ar for. The deals struck with democrats going back to Jimmy Carter and right now through Eric Holder forces the banks to give more to blacks than they can afford. So we have to bail out the banks.

  51. I'd be willing to give any living slave from 1865 his 40 acres and a mull. If they've managed to survive this long, they deserve it.

  52. Rick Hanlon says:

    And what can we give to the Native Americans who's land we stole?

  53. Dennis Pitts says:

    If you're trying to justify some idea that everything I all dandy you can stop while you're behind. Things just aren't dandy, YOU KNOW IT AND WE KNOW IT.

  54. History reveals the truth, whether accepted or not. This is not a shadow to be ignored. Reality of the truth is in such highlighted zone where the evidentry components are in a compelling position.

  55. Al Thompson says:

    Anthony Locascio You might want to take a look at the history of Italians when they first immigrated to this country. You may be owed reparations as well.

  56. Wesley Barnard that is realy not true the education of poor people is inferior . no matter their color. but the poor whites dont have affirmitive action to help balance their deficit. They also dont get first preference on govt jobs or contracts. i was born dirt poor and white. And i went to a 95% black school for my first 9 grades in school. i worked hard paid my own way to a degree. i had to work 50 hours a week and it took me 6.5 years but i made it. as can anyone that hs the drive. i never got a schoolarship, a grant nor did i quaulify for student aid loans as my parents were dead and i had no one to cisign a loan. But i made it as can anyone any color if they will get off their ass.

  57. Lets pay the bill and call it done regardless of all the arguments.
    Lets pay the debt good enough to end all this.
    500,000.00/Black person should be plenty to get us closer to an even playing field (even though none of us were alive back then). That’s a lot of money but it would be worth it to end this.
    Then what happens?
    Hopefully we can get on with this.
    Tell the govt to start the presses. They do it all the time anyway.

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