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Gates’ ”Slavery Blame Game” Misses the Point…

April 29, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( In recent days an enormous discussion has taken form within many American quarters, as Dr. Henry Louis Gates has once again weighed in on the question of reparations for African Americans.

The Harvard Professor’s most recent article entitled, “Ending the Slavery Blame Game”, in which Gates produces information regarding those African nations which actively aided European slave merchants during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade has functioned to not only broaden the lens in which  this tragic event may be viewed, but has also served to explain the complexity in which culpability may be assessed.

Gates, within the article, makes mention of several Western and Central African populations, including but not limited to, the Akan of the Asante kingdom in what is now Ghana and the Kongo of what is presently Congo as  those groups that profited from the selling of Africans to European forces. FrederickAlexanderMeade The scholar even makes mention of the revered 17th Century Queen Njinga, ruler of the Mbundu, as he reveals her duplicitous station as opponent and business partner to Portuguese slavers.  

Professor Gates’ excursions into the history of the African holocaust and subsequent assessment as to those parties who may have been responsible therein are to be commended.  However, the scholar’s suggestions that the fact numerous African nations were considerably involved in the development of this horrific event, presents an obstacle regarding the payment of funds to the descendants of the victims may be inaccurate.  Such a determination may emerge, as the professor’s proposition lacks some measure of historical perspective.  

In Nazi Germany’s unfortunate efforts to enact genocide on its Jewish citizens, considerable hardships were endured by this population.  However, once this egregious affront to humanity was brought to an end, the prevailing world powers demonstrated little difficulty in procuring capital for the effected group.  This reality prevailed in light of the fact other nations supported and contributed to the creation of this unspeakable segment of Germany’s history.   

Aid to the Jewish world community surfaced to the extent that even a population – The Palestinians – that had nothing to do with the lamentable plight experienced by these European peoples, was displaced from its land so as to make available this resource to those surviving this holocaust; thus the creation of Israel.   

In the face of this historical event, Dr. Gates’ statements suggesting payment to African Americans for centuries of forced labor experienced by their ancestors may be compromised by virtue of the fact multitudinal nations partook in the heinous institution which caused the circumstance to exist, is without merit.

The United States government, as reflected by its past and current financial and militaristic support of Israel – similar to that of its aid to the citizens of Bosnia – has an established history of providing considerable resources to many of those groups that have experienced the profound sting of gross inhumane treatment.   Such has been the case; irrespective of whether the United States has been responsible for the suffering of these populations or not.

Additionally the professor’s thoughts, via this article, fail to address what ought to be the fundamental question regarding the reparations debate.

The primary question with respect to reparations for African Americans hinges not on who is responsible for these crimes against humanity, but rather what measures must be imposed by this people to bring this desired objective to fruition.  

At the very least the United States along with several European and African nations are culpable for the legacy of slavery within this nation.  If additional entities can be proven to have participated in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, they too, must be held accountable, and made to provide restitution to the descendants of those effected parties. 

The failure to pose this question on behalf of those scholars, who engage the subject of reparations, bespeaks a desire to avoid any serious discussion in regard to the matter. 

In the instance of Gates, it may be suggested that perhaps his desire to propose the garnering of reparations for African Americans lies on faulty ground, serves as a tactic designed to quell this group’s call for justice in regard to the issue.    

Such a reality is conceivable, as a demand for reparations from an African-American public increasingly disenchanted with our nation’s first African-American President, Barack Obama, would function to potentially compromise the political standing of Gates’ long time friend.

In an effort to curtail such a request, the reintroduction of information that would make the reality of obtaining payment for centuries of slavery less perceivable, functions to potentially accomplish this goal. 

The debate in regard to reparations has and will continue to be a source of contention among the American populace.  If African Americans are to ever engage this issue in a serious manner, those individuals influencing the discussion must frame the conversation to the extent the acquisition of such a goal remains the primary focus.  

Accordingly, intellectuals and or scholars who present ideas that run contrary to the ultimate realization of such an aim must not be permitted to orchestrate the debate.

It will only be under the condition of the African-American public’s unrelenting resolve to further honor their ancestors’ contributions to the United States of America in this manner, the realization of financial compensation for their centuries of toil will find its expression.  

In achieving such an end, the question for African Americans is not so much one of who is responsible for the legacy of North American slavery, but rather what must be done to secure payment for this disastrous event.  

The answer to this question is essentially all that counts.  

Written By Frederick Alexander Meade

Frederick Alexander Meade is a journalist providing analysis on social and political matters.  His works appear in news-magazines and publications internationally.  The writer may be reached at:


2 Responses to “Gates’ ”Slavery Blame Game” Misses the Point…”
  1. Moor Knowledge of Wealth says:

    THE PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE WHO CRITICALLY JUDGE AFRICAN AMEIRCANS, IS THEIR COMPLETE LACK OF HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE WHEN EXPLAINING AND DESCRIBING THE SOCIAL EXPERIENCES OF THE BLACK MEN BEFORE HE BOARDED THE SHIPS TO AMERICA AND AFTER HE got there. Everytime there are good black movements in the community, there are people like the In Your Face who bypass the documented events of black independence being sabotaged by White people in power. Like the FBI who took an unnatural interest in the Black movements of the 60’s and 70’s. Yes Africans did sell other tribes of black people, but it was under the intense pressure of the invading arabics and the homeland hungry Europeans who found they had a late introduction to the exploitation of the so called New World. Shiite muslims, and the Portuguese, French,Western European, many many nations of people participated in the trade of Blacks not just across the atlantic ocean, but across the red sea also.

    The true problem with Black americans and carribean blacks, is that the intense dehumanization of the slave trade has allowed the same nation’s who instigated it’s purpose to be able to tell us the story of what happened from there perspective and beacause of the conditions imposed on us, we weren’t able to keep are native tongue so we lost identity of where we came from.Many modern African historians point to the fact that the African kings didn’t sell their own people they sold people they didn’t have ties with.

    I believe we as blacks in ameirca and the carribean are part of the diaspora of the Lost Tribe Of Israel its the only plausible theory that can demonstrate why all the nations of the time participated in such brutal fallacies against us. we don’t have a positive historical framework to figure out who we were as a nation before we were enslaved.I believe that a vast overhaul of European ideas and interpretations of what happened to us need to be done in order to research who we were as apeople before we were subjugated by Greeks,Romans,Medes,Goths,Saxons, Ottoman Arabs, and African kings benifitting of the sale of his neighboring tribal enemies. I believe that the bible holds a powerful place for us as a Black Nation because the bible seems to be talking about US.

    And in the bible it teaches us to understand that there were 2 races of Black folks 1 was the Hamite and the other was the Caananite one lived in Africa the other lived in Palestine/Syria.The only people in history who fit the descriptions of the people of the bible are American and carribean blacks.

  2. InYourFace says:

    The problem with African Americans is they don’t want to know their past. So a man with no past cant have a future still holds true. African Americans place all of their accountability on a religion that they know nothing about or its origins. So there for, they stand on a platform of non existence blaming everybody but themselves for not having any social economic power. Whenever there has been good movements in the black community, they all have been sabotaged and ruined by the most religious in the community or should I say most scared.

    Professor Gates is the same person that was complaining about his incident sometime ago, why. If Gates really believe what he’s writing then he should have never complained about his incident. To show how psychopathic Gates is, is this. Professor Gates claims to be smart but he cant differentiate between whats reality and whats fantasy. Theres no such thing as fair or being treated fair because it impossible to treat 2 individuals the same. So with that being said, Gates should have accepted his reality and not complained one bit.

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