Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 5.27.14: Squaring U.S. history

Posted By on Sat, May 24, 2014 at 2:33 PM

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Over the weekend there was a report that Donald Sterling has authorized his wife Shelly to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, which would avoid a full-on legal fight and allow the NBA to avoid a lot of legal unpleasantness. But it may still come down to that, because reportedly the Sterlings' plan would allow Mrs. Sterling to maintain a minority share of the team. The NBA wants no part of the Sterlings any longer, and is prepared next week to terminate their ownership with a three-quarters vote of league owners.

Sterling's private racist musings went global last month, and the league, through its new commissioner Adam Silver, has declared that in 2014, in a sport that is 80 percent African-American, such comments are disqualifying. Few disagree.

But there have always been disagreements about what some in the black community have called for — reparations from the U.S. government to compensate for slavery, terrorism and sanctioned laws that colluded to put black people into ghettos, where they were overcrowded, overcharged and undereducated, brutalized by police and discriminated against by business. 

For over two decades now, Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers has submitted a bill in the House of Representatives calling for a congressional study of slavery and its lingering effects as well as recommendations for “appropriate remedies.” But as Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in the cover story of The Atlantic, maybe it's time for a serious examination of why or why not? 

Coates's essay is an argument for reparations for the black community in this country, which he defines as "The full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences," as the price that must be paid to fully understand the consequences of what has happened historically to blacks in America, even before it was the U.S.

"What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe," he writes. "What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling “patriotism” while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history."

That paragraph comes toward the end of the lengthy, but fast-moving essay. Maybe you'll disagree, but it's certainly worth your time to consider the case he lays out.

Stories we covered over the weekend that I'd like to bring your attention to: Charlie Crist made a quick stop for the press Friday night in St. Pete, and on Saturday hundreds protested against Monsanto and GMO's in downtown Tampa.

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