This op-ed was published today in the New York Times and was written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., aka Skip Gates, of Beer Summit fame. Skip Gates’ opinion on this issue is not necessarily representative of our point of view here at NewsOne but we feel it is our editorial responsibility to publish this article and allow the largest and most powerful community of Black people on the web have their say on this topic. -NewsOne Staff
THANKS to an unlikely confluence of history and genetics — the fact that he is African-American and president — Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to reshape the debate over one of the most contentious issues of America’s racial legacy: reparations, the idea that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ unpaid labor and bondage.
There are many thorny issues to resolve before we can arrive at a judicious (if symbolic) gesture to match such a sustained, heinous crime. Perhaps the most vexing is how to parcel out blame to those directly involved in the capture and sale of human beings for immense economic gain.
While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played. And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa.