ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes


Home  ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)


slaves and their offspring were kept busy fighting to be recognized as human beings

that they hardly had time to even think about the dignity reparations affords



Books by Carol Chehade


Big Little White Lies: Our Attempt to White-Out America

*   *   *   *   *

Why We Owe Them

By Carol Chehade


"Stop living in the past and move on after slavery!" This is what we often tell African Americans. Well we certainly forced them to move on. We moved on to Black Codes, Jim Crow, lynching, de facto segregation. We moved on to White knights hiding behind ghosts of themselves while religiously lighting crosses in praise of a Satan they were fooled into thinking was God. We moved on to the cities of Tulsa, St. Louis, and Rosewood where we, apparently, were unaffected by the burned and seared flesh of Black people. 

We moved on to laws that upheld racial oppression over and over again. We moved on to the many Black men placed on death row because they fit the description. We moved on and made sure that Emmitt Till would not be the last fourteen-year-old Black child whose unrecognizable corpse was the price paid for supposedly whistling at a White woman. We moved on to exclude African Americans from rights of democracy by blocking avenues to employment, education, housing, and civil rights. 

In the final decade of the last century the slow, consistent racial apocalypse started showing signs of even more things to come when a Black man’s head was seen rolling behind a pick up truck in Jasper, Texas. By the time we racially profiled our way from Texas to New York we find a city plagued with plungers and forty-one bullets. Every time Black people have tried leaving the shackles of slavery behind, we find that we were the ones who couldn’t stop living in the past.

How dare our own racial arrogance say that reparations are too much of an apology for the Black lives we’ve tormented. How dare we simultaneously declare that the statue of limitations has expired for African Americans yet is limitless for other people in the world who are non-Black. Half of the nations in this world are in the midst of fighting long and hard battles to get justice for things that happened in the past. Some of these battles have roots that go back further than the birth of the United States. 

African Americans’ quest for justice is looked down upon in comparison to ethnic groups like Jews and Palestinians. Black people would be ridiculed as unrealistic and outlandish if they were to ask for a piece of land like the Jews and Palestinians have done and are doing. Unlike the Jews and Palestinians, at least African Americans are asking rather than forcing us through the barrel of a gun to take responsibility.

The international stage has taken issues of reparations much more seriously than we have. The Jews received statehood as a form of reparations for their brothers and sisters who were exterminated. Coincidentally, many Jews who immigrated to Israel and benefited from reparations were not even close to the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau. Although millions of those for whom the reparations were intended died, that didn’t mean that their death equaled an expired statue of limitations for their descendents who were left to deal with the psychological consequences and the nagging fear of what it means to be hunted down and collectively violated because of ethnicity. 

Jews even went on to win further reparations through lawsuits against corporations such as banks. Again, these demands for justice were instigated by a generation of Jews who had never even lived in Germany, let alone been there during the Holocaust. The Jewish experience serves as a prime example as to why reparations for African Americans are not unrealistic and outlandish.

Another example is in Asia. There, the Japanese didn’t wait until all of the Chinese, Korean, and Filipino survivors, who they enslaved during World War II, to die before settlements toward reparations were received. They knew, at least at a rudimentary level, that to deny a group justice over a given period of time, only to inform them that when justice finally has a forum to be heard that, unfortunately, their statue of limitations has expired is beyond cruel.

Opponents of reparations make a very strong case when they point out the fact that only survivors of atrocities have received monetary reparations in the United States, such as survivors of the Japanese American internment camps and the participants of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Since slavery happened generations ago, there are no survivors left. Thus concluding that since there are no survivors, then the statue of limitations has expired. 

Essentially, in order to have a statue of limitations applied, a crime has to first be recognized. It was impossible for most people to recognize slavery as a crime back when it was practiced because the Constitution steadfastly protected its very existence. In fact, every racist practice from the Black Codes on was simply not recognized as crimes at the time when they were being overtly practiced. As a result of having an entire society interpret slaves’ tears as Sambo’s smile, slaves and their offspring were kept busy fighting to be recognized as human beings that they hardly had time to even think about the dignity reparations affords because our system rendered them without dignity in the first place. 

In essence, there was not a time in history where reparations could be heard because atrocities against African Americans were not considered crimes.

When reparations could have still made the deadline on this ridiculous statue of limitations, it was immediately shot down, as with what happened to politician Thaddeus Stevens when he passionately plead on behalf of the Slave Reparation Bill of 1867. Whites have always had power in this country. If reparations were important, they could have been obtained. It is ludicrous to allow the same race who imposed the original limitations on Blacks to be allowed to enforce the time frame as to when Blacks can challenge past and present limitations. 

Ultimately, this racist inspired statue of limitations ran out because Whites made very sure that Blacks were limited in their capacity to obtain justice. By the time reparations for the survivors of the Japanese American internment camps and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study was given, grievances even hinting of the institutionalized support of national crimes against racial groups were just beginning to be acknowledged. Therefore, the Black experience in the Unites States is without precedent. Only Native Americans rank next to them in terms of the genocide that occurred.

In a land littered with children of immigrants, African Americans are children of slaves. Therefore, the application of laws and rights ran in different directions for children of slaves versus those of immigrants. Whereas immigrants were able to build a foundation where wealth had the opportunity to flourish, children of slaves are still fighting to get half the respect that immigrants have received in a shorter time. 

Therefore, since African Americans have been systematically robbed and raped in various degrees of brutality by various White and non-Black ethnic groups, then reparations aren’t only to be paid by Whites whose ancestors owned slaves, but it is also to be paid by non-Black people of color who are not of European descent as well. This includes my ethnic group of Arab Americans. 

Like the majority of Whites who didn’t have a knotted family tree of slave owners, most immigrants of color also do not have a history in the United States of owning African Americans. But as non-European immigrants of color, we have made sure to help European Whites to tighten the rope’s noose around Black necks. Essentially, a bystander who witnesses a crime and says and does nothing is as guilty as the criminal wielding the sword. 

We, as immigrants of color, rarely align ourselves with Blackness simply because we are too busy trying to move up the racial hierarchy in order to get closer to the ideal of Whiteness. Therefore, the mere act of supporting the racial hierarchy through selling our color out to the highest bidder makes us accessories to the crime against African Americans.

Isn’t it un-American to pay for other people’s sins? Crimes against individuals versus crimes against a specific race require very different forms of punishment. For instance, if my brother raped and murdered a woman, then certainly it would be considered unjust to imprison me for his crime. Most would agree that punishment for my brother would either be to simply place him in prison or execute him. It’s an easy decision to make because one, the evidence is obvious and two, the accused is alive. 

In contrast, the punishment for slavery is very complex. We can’t place dead people in prison for the rape and murder of an entire race. Although slavery was paradoxically both violently gory and methodically sterile, its aftermath needs to be paid through the same institutions that legally protected it. Reparations are not about retribution against individuals who committed a crime against other individuals. Rather, it is interested in seeking justice for crimes committed against a singled out race. 

Slavery and its consequences were a crime against humanity. The institution of slavery had nothing to do with the American belief in individuality. In fact slavery’s collectivizing nature was a crime to our democracy’s support of individuality.

In the current political climate of terrorism, we have a nation seeking punishment against groups who vandalized our soil with glimpses of Hell’s fire, yet we set a bad example of justice when we can’t even apologize to the generations of African American lives who were oppressed by the suffocating fumes of White superiority. Although slavery ended with the Thirteenth Amendment, the consequences are around us today. 

The fact that reparations is an issue that creates deep, divided racial lines is proof as to how many unresolved issues are left since 1865. Our racist beliefs have simply metastasized with the time by further permitting us to adjust the depth of our perceived divine rights to believe that Black pain is not real enough for reparations. 

Let us hope that it won’t take the same humbling experiences that Black people have continually faced for us to finally understand the necessity for reparations.

Copyright © 2002 Carol Chehade

*   *   *   *   *


Carol Chehade, writer and activist living in New York City, has written a controversial book en titled, Big Little White Lies: Our Attempt to White-Out America.  Born to Arab parents, and raised in Detroit, Chehade is among the self-described "colorless immigrants who choose to dye our chameleon-like racial and ethnic traits in order to blend in with Whiteness." 

Her stance on race is as complex as her multifaceted life experiences as a child of immigrants, whose fair skin and light hair belie her North African/Middle Eastern roots   Further information can be found at NEHMARCHE PUBLISHING 244 Fifth Ave. 2nd Floor, Suite F248 NY, NY 

Ugly Truths  Why We Owe Them    Big Little White Lies    The Racial View of 9/11 


*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

*   *   *   *   *

Andrew Johnson: The 17th President, 1865-1869

By Annette Gordon-Reed

Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth man to ascend to the highest office in the land, is generally regarded by historians as among the weakest presidents. Gordon-Reed has no intention of moving Johnson up in rank (“America went from the best to the worst in one presidential term,” she corroborates). So this is no reputation rescue. Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (2008), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, takes as her task explaining why we should look anew at such a disastrous chief executive. She reasons he is worth looking at, though her reasoning yields a far from sympathetic look. In a short biography, all bases can be covered, but the author is still left to exercise the tone of a personal essay, which this author accomplishes brilliantly. Her personal take on Johnson is that his inability to remake the country after it was torn apart rested on his deplorable view of black Americans.

 In practical terms, his failure derived from his stubborn refusal to compromise with Congress in the abiding post-Lincoln controversy over who was to supervise the Reconstruction, the executive or the legislative branch. A failure, yes, but more than that, a failure at an extremely critical time in American history.Booklist

*   *   *   *   *

Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007

By Matthew Wasniewski

Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007 beautifully prepared volume—is a comprehensive history of the more than 120 African Americans who have served in the United States Congress. Written for a general audience, this book contains a profile of each African-American Member, including notables such as Hiram Revels, Joseph Rainey, Oscar De Priest, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, Gus Hawkins, and Barbara Jordan. Individual profiles are introduced by contextual essays that explain major events in congressional and U.S. history. Part I provides four chronologically organized chapters under the heading "Former Black Members of Congress." Each chapter provides a lengthy biographical sketch of the members who served during the period addressed, along with a narrative historical account of the era and tables of information about the Congress during that time. Part II provides similar information about current African-American members. There are 10 appendixes providing tabular information of a variety of sorts about the service of Black members, including such things as a summary list, service on committees and in party leadership posts, familial connections, and so forth.

*   *   *   *   *


 Race, Racism & Reparations

By J. Angelo Corlett

Having supplanted "race" with a well-defined concept of ethnicity, the author then analyzes the nature and function of racism. Corlett argues for a notion of racism that must encompass not only racist beliefs but also racist actions, omissions, and attempted actions. His aim is to craft a definition of racism that will prove useful in legal and public policy contexts. Corlett places special emphasis on the broad questions of whether reparations for ethnic groups are desirable and what forms those reparations should take: land, money, social programs? He addresses the need for differential affirmative action programs and reparations policies—the experiences (and oppressors) of different ethnic groups vary greatly. Arguments for reparations to Native and African Americans are considered in light of a variety of objections that are or might be raised against them. Corlett articulates and critically analyzes a number of possible proposals for reparations

*   *   *   *   *

Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls

By Dorothy Sterling

Dorothy Sterling’s biography of Robert Smalls is Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1958). In most history books, the contributions of Negroes during the Civil War and Reconstructions are ignored. Robert Smalls was one of the heroes who is rarely mentioned. He was a Negro slave who stole a ship from the Confederates, served on it with the Union Army with distinction, and finally served several terms in Congress.

All this was accomplished against the handicaps first of slavery, then of the prejudice of the Union Army, and finally of the Jim Crow laws, which eventually conquered him. Besides its value in contradicting the history book insinuation that the Negro was incapable of political enterprise and that the South was right in imposing Jim Crow laws, Captain of the Planter is an exciting adventure story. Captain Smalls’ escape from slavery and his battle exploits make interesting reading, and the style is fast moving.—Barbara Dodds / Legacy of Robert Smalls

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)






update 4 February 2012




   Home  Dennis Leroy Moore Table  Reparations Table   Civil Rights: Struggle for Black Power

Related files: Ugly Truths    Why We Owe Them     Big Little White Lies  The Racial View of 9/11   The Political Thought of James Forman  Legacy of Robert Smalls

Control, Conflict, and Change    Haitians Demand Reparations  Haiti Makes Its Case for Reparations   Race and Reparations   Race Racism Reparations 

 Reparations for Darfur  Reparations and the Pan-African War on Genocide   Review of Essence of Reparations   Reparations Bill of 1967  

 Why We Owe Them  Delivering Good News to the Oppressed    Special Order 15  Forty Years of Determined Struggle  A Caring and Just Society