Monday, February 16, 2009


My piece on reparations on Episcopal Cafe today and tomorrow highlights Marco Williams' film "Banished."

The Feminist Sexual Ethics Project at Brandeis has some useful material "Sexual Assault and Exploitation under U.S. Slavery and Jim Crow" including an essay by Adrienne Davis, "Reparations for Slavery":

African Americas have tried to obtain reparations for slavery since the nineteenth century. Many leaders supported them throughout the twentieth century, including W.E.B. Du Bois and Queen Mother Audrey Moore. Taken together, the systematic political repression, economic discrimination, racial abuses of the criminal system (including blacks as both victims and defendants), brutal rending of black families, forced health experiments while denying basic healthcare, repression of literacy, and access to education warrant recognition and monetary reparation. Paying reparations would make us partners with others worldwide who condemn slavery and be a step toward making blacks real citizens in America. However, even with all of the recent writing on reparations, we still have not really grappled with the question of sexual reparations. Religious communities are particularly well poised to exercise leadership on this question. Religious leaders and institutions are especially powerful over matters regarding women, families, and sexuality. Yet, historically, mainstream religion, with few exceptions, refused to condemn, or even address or recognize, sexual abuses under slavery. Even in the face of public pro-slavery defenses of slavery, religious leaders remained largely silent, supporting slavery and its sexual injustices. The contemporary reparations debate offers religious institutions a second chance. They can exercise leadership in bringing reparations to public attention and also draw on their moral influence in the area of sexuality to insist especially that slavery's sexual injustices receive equal attention.

Walter Olsen, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of several books including "The Rule of Lawyers" wrote "Reparations, R.I. P." last Autumn in City Journal. This was the fuller version of a newspaper piece published in the LA Times. He blogs at "Overlawyered" where there were lively comments on his piece.

1 comment:

winnie said...

great post on episcopal cafe. thank you.
is there any chance that a proposal for a commission on reparations for slavery in the u.s. could come from the episcopal academic community? we have such powerful witnesses in this area in the larger communion.

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