Tuesday, October 09, 2012

On This Day in History

On October 9, 1990, the United States government began making $20,000 payments to Japanese-Americans who had suffered internment in concentration camps during World War II. Despite the fact that no Japanese or Japanese-American person was ever convicted of spying for Japan during the war and despite the fact that the most decorated unit of the war (the 442nd Infantry Regiment) was made up almost entirely of troops of Japanese heritage, more than 110,000 (62% of which were U.S. citizens) were forced to move into "War Relocation Camps" that even President Franklin Roosevelt referred to in speeches as concentration camps. Old army bases and even former horse stables served as locations and as some of the horrified prisoners -- who had been stripped of their homes and businesses without opportunity to secure them for the future -- lost their minds and ran for the fences, they were shot without remorse.

The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan, called the government's actions "a grave injustice" based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership." Eventually, $1.6 billion was dispersed to those who were interned and their heirs.

My question: if four years of internment is "a grave injustice" worthy of redress, then what is four hundred years of slavery followed by another one hundred fifty years of Black Codes, Jim Crow laws and policies, segregation, public lynchings, police brutality, minority over-representation in the nation's prisons and full scale unapologetic educational, economic and social discrimination as recently as five seconds ago? I'm just sayin'.

2 comments:

Brotha Wolf said...

The U.S. couldn't afford the money that it would pay back to the black community who is largely the victims of today's injustices let alone the descendants of past injustices. Even if they could, they won't. They don't see it as worth their time and effort due to their own negative perceptions on black people being lazy and criminal minded.

Plus, one has to expect something like repaying for the sins of the past through money as a way of making up to the victims. Money does help, but the trauma will remain. The money will never serve its purpose unless it's put to good use, to help and empower victims out of good will.

Changeseeker said...

I agree with you on every point, Brotha Wolf.