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Should America Pay?: Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations Paperback – August 5, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Winbush, the director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and an editorial board member of the Journal of Black Studies, oversees a gathering of scholars, attorneys and grassroots activists who offer a smorgasbord of compelling arguments, most of which explain why reparations are necessary for rectifying present damage done by the U.S.'s slave-holding past. For many of the contributors, reparations do not merely involve individual African-Americans receiving a cash payment. Rather, it's about recognizing that the legacies of slavery continue to be manifest in negative cultural attitudes and inferior socio-economic conditions. Law professor Robert Westley delves into the relatively fragile circumstances of middle-class African-Americans and compares them with the cases in which European Jews and Japanese-Americans received reparations after WWII. Winbush details the forgotten practice of "whitecapping," where black rural landowners were permanently driven off their land by whites in the early 2oth century. And journalist Molly Secours confronts her own white privilege. With passages that detail slaveholder atrocities and resulting governmental benefits, the text is generally sobering and direct, though activist Tim Wise gets points for metaphoric ingenuity by referring to racism's legacy as a type of "historical herpes" that's infected Americans. Winbush also includes three essays that are anti-reparations, but John McWhorter offers the group's only comprehensive rebuttal. Beyond pro or con, most of the pieces here are more deeply concerned with having its readers confront their notions of accountability by looking at our collective past and present.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this collection of essays, Congressman John Conyers, Shelby Steele, David Horowitz, and others address the ongoing issue of reparations for African Americans from a legal, emotional, and practical standpoint.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad; Reprint edition (August 5, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060083115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060083113
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,691,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tucker Andersen VINE VOICE on April 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am very interested in the issue of reparations andpurchased this book based on the dust jacket blurbs and looking at the table of contents. While I found it very informative in some respects, I was quite disappointed and had to struggle to rate it three stars. My disappointments concerned three different issues, discussed below following a description of the book.
This is a collection of essays accompanied by thirty eight pages of documents with relevance to the reparations issue. The book is organized thematically, with sections providing historical context, a legal overview, organizational initiatives, opinion pieces, and alternative methodologies. Many of the selections are quite short; at one extreme some are heavily footnoted and scholarly in format, at the other extreme some are conversational in nature. The book is quite easy to read, and while I read it in its entirety (but not in sequence), each selection stands on its own. Its strength is that Raymond Winbush, the editor has provided in one place a meaningful and diverse introduction to the literature on the subject for those who are interested in the arguments supporting reparations. He includes many of early advocates of reparations articulately presenting the case.
My first complaint is that its strength is also its weakness. This is not a book that examines the issue in an unbiased manner, but rather a sermon being preached to the choir. Despite the book jacket proclaiming that the there would be sufficient counterarguments to provide balance, this is definitely not the case. There are only three such articles (Armstrong Williams, Shelby Steele, and John McWhorter) presenting a countervailing point of view, and they are among the briefest in the collection, totaling 27 pages out of 366.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you beleive in reparations, then this is for you. If you are one of those who dismiss it as a crackpot scheme to serve as an outlet for bitter people, it will at least enlighten you to their points of view.
The pro-reparations arguments vary. Some are rather scholarly indeed, especially the one that talks about the Ex-slave pension movement of the 19th century. That was very enlightening. The inevitable comparisons to the repaprations for German Jews and Japansese Americans appear. Others are from those who are from the extreme Black nationalist camp and filled with rhetoric (sadly, the completely ahistorical "Willie Lynch" letter is once again cited as fact when it has been proven to be an urban legend) and another wishes to dismiss all Black Americans who do not consider themselves solely as "Africans."
The sad part of it is that some of this rhetoric confirms this issue (at least to those who remain unconvinced) to be a product of the extremist camp of fanatics and unreconstructed sixties radicals, as was the case with the failed reparations march in 2002 which alienated people with crackpot speeches and a low turnout. In fact, little has been heard form the Reparations movement on a wide level since that fiasco.
The editors do a good service by printing a collection of relevant doccuments, such as General Howard's 1865 Field Order and Thaddues Stevens "40 Acres and a Mule" proposal (both of which were turned down by the reconstruction government, I might add, and NEITHER mentioned anything about money to former slaves). Section 4 of the 14th Amendment also ruled out any financial compensation for slavery, yet nowhere in this book does anyone comment on this fact.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brynn1220 on January 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In 'Should America Pay?' Dr. Winbush has succeeded in compiling a full spectrum of the arguments for and against reparations in such a manner that the average reader can gain a full understanding of the reparations movement. The most fascinating aspect of 'Should America Pay' is that Dr. Winbush has included not only historical reparations information but current happenings in the reparations movement including interviews of those living today who have been directly affected by slavery and the details of current reparations lawsuits filed against major American corporations.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By B. J. Peak-Graham on April 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
SHOULD AMERICA PAY?:
Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations
Edited by Raymond A. Winbush, Ph.D

I really should not have read this book. The fact that I know and am a fan of the editor, not withstanding.

The book " SHOULD AMERICA PAY?: Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations" is challenging, informative and insightful. The contributors were thoughtful and experienced. The documents of important legal ramifications are well worth the cost of the book itself to enhance a home library. What makes the book outstanding, however, is the clarity in which Winbush crafted his recognition of previously understood factors. One is that that the issue of reparations is complex for both Black and white Americans and for people on both sides of the issue and that reparations for American slaves of Africa has international contemporary relevance and world implications. If the issues presented in this book were to be successfully mediated, worlds Black and white, African and non-African, Western and European will be turned upside down. Until I finished reading this book I never understood how scary the notion reparations really should be. Nor did I understand how logical it should be. The book offers carefully balanced views, but extremely diverse voices within each of those groups.

Winbush and this focused collection place the issue of reparation in a cogent legal, cultural, global, political and human landscape. It is not too intellectual that it forgets that the slavers lashes still sting yet, not too soft that the complex legal and economic logistics are lost.
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