Temple Issues Forum and Discussion organization will be debating an issue that often has a hard time gaining attention — reparations.
Reparation is a form of compensation given to the descendents of a group that faced unjust treatment in the past. The debate will focus on whether or not ancestors of slaves should receive recompense for African subjugation and African-American discrimination in the United States.
The debate will be held on Thursday, Nov.1 in Anderson Hall, room 22, from 4:30-6 p.m. Hosted by the Temple Issues Forum Debate and Discussion Club, it will feature a panel of several University professors.
House of Representatives member John Conyers, D-Mich., is the first African-American to chair the House Judiciary Committee. Even in his position, getting leaders to even debate slavery reparations has been impossible.
“We have never had any dialogue at the national level,” said Conyers at a meeting of the TransAfrica Forum, an organization that fights for slavery reparations. “When we raise the question of reparations, [it] leads many people to move toward the door, to exit as quickly as possible.”
Conyers believes the issue is difficult to raise because of the sensitive topic it surrounds. “The problem comes when you raise [the question of reparations] in relationship to the most sensitive question in America still unresolved – the question of race,” said Conyers. “So, this feeds into the important idea that we begin to lift the subject up, turn it over, and talk about it.”
According to the TransAfrica’s manifesto, the organization seeks to lift a veil of misconception that leads many to believe that the huge social and economic effects of slavery and segregation were contained solely in the time periods human bondage and suppression were legal in the United States. Everything started at zero for blacks at emancipation. Freed slaves lacked an education, adequate housing and perhaps most importantly, an economic history that allows one generation to benefit from the work of ancestors through inheritance.
“The experience of enslavement, segregation and discrimination continues to limit the life chances and opportunities of African Americans.”
TransAfrica reduces its argument for reparations into a simple logic: the U.S. paid reparations to families of Japanese Americans interred in camps during World War II, and they also participated in putting international pressure on Germany to pay reparations to Jewish people killed and interred by the Third Reich. TransAfrican also believes America should make restitution to descendents of slavery.
Whether or not TranAfrica’s efforts to bring about reparations for slavery are successful, it feels the lack of debate must end, and the issue must be addressed. Temple’s doing just that.